The armed legacy
Change of Command in Pakistan Armed Forces
The change of command in Pakistan Armed Forces is never an ordinary event. The reason is simple. Pakistan has been under military siege for so many years in her short history that everyone from the ordinary people to politicians are interested in the new face of Military top management. Those who claim that behind the curtains Pakistan is run by the Generals have learnt from the history. Seeing the legacy of former Military Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, one can get the hint that the generals have learnt from the history as well. Strengthening democracy to boost economic growth of the country has been one of the finest silver linings of General Kayani’s tenure. Despite certain inviting conditions he never went against the democratic values and that probably is one thing he would be remembered for by the leading political parties of the country.
The new face on the block is General Raheel Sharif. The serene looking face of Pakistan Army comes from a family of highly decorated Army officers with two Nishan e Haiders (Highest Military Honor) in the family. Sharif is just not another General Kayani. His major work is that as a Military strategist and he is considered as the pioneer of counter-insurgency plans against the Taliban threat in Pakistan. At times like the ones Pakistan is facing at the moment, appointment of General Sharif comes as a positive move by the government. The complicated Taliban challenge and the current hot and cold situation with our allies in war on terror, the US is a test of the new General’s Military strategy as well his ideals of democracy.
There is however a twist in the story of smooth transition of power. The Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is notorious for his intervention in the corridors of military power. It’s the same intervention that first promoted General (Retd.) Parvez Musharaf out of ranks in 1998 and then invited his wrath in 1999 for another such promotion. The current appointment of General Sharif seems like a Déjà vu as the Senior General in line; General Haroon Aslam was overlooked for appointment as Army Chief and thus tendered his resignation. Though he called it a military tradition but some sense the same tension in the air as in 1998 or 1999.
The new Army Chief does not only have a legacy of democratic values to defend but he has to take charge at a stage when any chances of peace talks with TTP have already been ruined by the killing of their chief Hakimullah Mehsud. Would he be grateful for the opportunity provided as an out of ranks promotion or would he wish for more power? No matter what the General thinks, the people of Pakistan do not want another tug of war between the institutions of Army and the Parliament. They support democratic values and a peaceful Pakistan. They hope that the Sharif duo delivers it.