General Mirza Aslam Beg, Former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan
It is a day of reckoning for us, to recollect the failings of the past, and to carve-out a new destiny for the nation. No doubt Pakistan has faced serious challenges to its security, mainly due to foreign aggression in the region and our collusion with them. Having come full circle now, Pakistan is moving on the corrective course. Symptoms are encouraging:
One. The Parliament is laying down the ‘New Rules of Engagement’ establishing the correct level of working relationship with the United States and other countries.
Two. The judiciary is handling with discreet care, some very sensitive issues, such as, President’s immunity; the NRO cases; scandals and corruption cases of institutions and agencies. An independent judiciary is the hope for justice and rule of law to be established in lawless Pakistan, where even the President of Pakistan eulogizes the Prime Minister for his defiance of the judiciary.
Three. The Armed Forces of Pakistan, now honour the oath, which has been so blatantly violated by General Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf. The oath demands: “To uphold the Constitution of Pakistan, which embodies the will of the people, and not to engage in politics.”
This oath has been honoured twice at critical junctures of our history, during the last six decades. First, on 17th August 1988, when the three services chiefs namely, Admiral Saeed Ahmed Khan, Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah and myself, assisted by DGISI Lieutenant General Hamid Gul and Judge Advocate General of Army, Brigadier Aziz Muhammad Khan, restored the Constitution and handed over power to the people, within three hours of General Zia’s death – an unprecedented act of correcting the course of democracy. Secondly , on 18th October 2008, when General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani said ‘NO’ to General Musharraf’s plan of rigging the elections using military intelligence – a repeat of elections 2002. Thus General Kiani, corrected the course of democracy, to the great disappointment of the ‘Capitol Hill’, USA. Arnoud de Borchgrave, the editor of Washington Times and United Press, commenting on the elections results, lamented in his column, titled “Pak-Forces Align Against USA”:
“Washington’s Pakistan kibitzers will soon rue the day, they squeezed President Pervez Musharraf to restore democracy. “Democracy” is what has now emerged, or an unholy alliance of long-time American haters. Acting as behind-the-scenes catalysts are two prominent American-haters, Gen Aslam Beg, former COAS (1988-91) and Gen Hamid Gul. Both Beg and Gul are strongly opposed to military action, encouraged by the United States, against Taliban and Al-Qaeda safe heavens in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. What the United States and Britain describe as Taliban “terrorists”, according to the two generals, are the “freedom fighters” of a “Muslim world facing unprecedented oppression and injustice.” The new behind-the-scenes god-father of this broad-based anti-US coalition is Nawaz Sharif, chief of the Pakistan Muslim League. This also puts Kiani in a quandary, Musharraf has handed over his military powers, along with a Rubik’s Cube.”
In fact, the military high command decisions of 17th August 1988 and 18th October 2008, defeated the plans of the ‘Nexus’ – a combination of America, Army, Judiciary and the ever compliant politicians – to bring about Regime Change in Pakistan. No doubt the Nexus is defeated, but the powers behind the Nexus, are active and alive, trying to reverse the process, are targeting the judiciary, the armed forces, the national intelligence agencies and the political parties, who say ‘NO’ to their machinations.
General elections are likely to be held soon, and a new parliament would be in place to tackle the challenges, which are serious, particularly those that threaten the core of national existence, such as:
One. Indian ‘water hegemony plans’ seriously threaten Pakistan’s economy and agriculture. On 27 February 2012, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the government to implement the 2002 project to link major rivers in India, ‘in a time-bound manner’. The over $100 billion project will link around 30 rivers. The project is split into the Himalayan component, with 14 linkages and the peninsular component, with 16 linkages. It is the Himalayan component which will dry-up the rivers flowing into Pakistan. India, continues building 300 small and major dams, linking the rivers to contain Pakistan’s water share, has allocated $212 billion for turning the water courses of Chenab, Jhelum and Indus from North to South. These include 24 projects on River Chenab, 52 on River Jhelum and 18on River Indus. Thus India will deprive Pakistan of its share of water and establish Indian water hegemony – an all-encompassing strategy to ruin Pakistan’s agriculture affecting seven million acres of fertile land. According to articles 3, 4 and 7 of Indus Water Treaty, India could not construct water reservoirs, over western rivers of Chenab, Jhelum and Sindh nor it could divert the catchment areas of tributary canals of these rivers. New Delhi is also bound to notify Pakistan in advance about the water schemes but so far it has failed to do so.
Two. The Pakistani nations’ ‘ideological base’ is badly tarnished, weakening the ‘National Purpose’ as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, i.e. to ‘strive for a democratic order, based on the principles of Quran and Sunnah.’ The ‘component of democracy’ is protected by the parliament, the judiciary, the Armed Forces and the civil society, but the ‘ideological component’ has been relegated and subordinated to the political authority and expediency. For example the government at the centre, and governments in the three provinces, enjoy secular orientations – just one step away declaring Pakistan a secular state, once the Muslim League government in Punjab is pulled down.
The threat to National Purpose, thus has become endemic, because United States has succeeded in achieving ‘Media Management goals’, and now is aiming at ‘Perception Management’ of the Pakistani nation. For this purpose, a huge sum of US$ 1.4 billion has been allocated by the US Congress, to be spent in Pakistan for ‘Institutional Support’; Support to the Civil Society and for ‘Perception Management.’ Therefore, protecting and safeguarding Pakistani nations ‘ideological base’, is the most serious challenge. If the parliament doesn’t take this matter seriously, then the impacting ideological forces of Afghanistan and Iranian revolutions and the Islamic surge within Pakistan, would gain overpowering influence over the masses, and cause violent change. Change is inevitable, but must be induced through the democratic dispensation.
General Aslam Beg is one of the most authoritative analysts in Pakistan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org