DG ISPR press conference & commitment to democracy by Abdul Q Kundi

I wish you all an advance new years greetings and pray that it brings prosperity and happiness to all of you individually and to the Pakistani nation collectively.

Before commenting on DG ISPR press conference I would like to reiterate that our soldiers are the pride of the nation. Their sacrifices and selfless service not only inspires but also ensures the nation has a secure and prosperous future. Their sacrifices have broken the back of terrorists and their strength is the strength of the nation.

The key take away for me from DG ISPR press conference yesterday was that the army led by Gen Bajwa is a new army which is disowning the past armies led by Gen Musharraf, Gen Zia, and Field Marshal Ayub Khan. This new army respects the constitution and wants democracy to get stronger. But it is also a reality that this new army is struggling to find a balance between their past involvement in politics and their current commitment to democracy.

DG ISPR before answering the question on Saad Rafique speech took an unusually long pause. That pause is a symbolic indication of the struggle the new army is facing between its past and present. I wish after the pause Gen Asif Ghafoor would have stated to have no comment but instead, he did make a comment as well as issued a veiled threat to abstain from future or face repercussions. It was only natural after that response that someone would ask him about Gen Musharraf recent statement. To that question, there was no pause but an instant response that Musharraf is now a politician but apparently he is not the same kind of politician as Saad Rafique so his statement does not warrant reminding him the constitutional restraints. This kind of duality exposes the struggle inside the army.

DG ISPR also challenged PML N to present evidence of their involvement in a conspiracy to oust their former PM Nawaz Sharif. I would leave that to PML N but if DG ISPR wants evidence of army continues influencing politics then I can provide him that evidence reported by many media. Politics engineering between PSP-MQM and promoting mainstreaming of extremist religious organizations is not the role and responsibility of the army or their subordinate organizations. DG ISPR press release that State should negotiate with the religious intolerant organization during Faizabad Dharna for harmony was also not appropriate. The state should deal with religious intolerance and hate with an iron fist regardless whether it is TTP, Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Capt Safdar, or General Musharraf. All state institutions should help with suppressing intolerance rather than appeasing them.

Finally, DG ISPR requested that mainstream and social media activists should refrain from promoting unconfirmed news that could be detrimental to the country. I fully support that position and assure that I have never forwarded as received messages. But the worry for me is that many senior level ex-Servicemen (brigadier and above) are not only actively writing posts that are derogatory towards civilian elected politicians but are also spreading such posts through forwarded as received practice. Can the country remain secure and strong if we are undermining our democracy willingly using the fake info?

But we cannot blame military alone for their intervention in politics. Our civilian dictators are responsible. To undermine their opponents to gain power they can go to any length. Mian Nawaz Sharif wore the black coat in memo-gate to weaken PPP government and now Imran Khan has become the torch bearer of undermining democracy through his dharna and lockdown.

We can only prosper as a nation when all of us do our jobs rather than step on each other toes.

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