Pakistan is today safer than it has been during any previous time in the 21st century. This newfound safety which is the foundation upon which the dream of Naya Pakistan is being erected, ought to be recognised throughout the country as a direct result of Pakistan’s Army remaining a disciplined, highly effective, patriotic and intelligent force which has led to the physical and now the political salvation of the nation.
This is not to say that rumours of the Army “controlling” the government are true. It is instead to say that no nation can function normally if there is undue hostility between the civilian government, judicial system and military. Imagine if incredibly vast countries China, the United States or Russia were operating in a constant tug-of-war between the military and government? Such nations would not be military superpowers if this was the case. Meanwhile, Turkey has addressed the problem of decades of conflict between the Army and multiple governments, which then led to the terrorist infiltration of parts of the Army by the Gulenist Terror Organisation (FETO). Today, Turkey has embraced a new era in national leadership, whereby the military and government work harmoniously in order to create more national unity and security for the Turkish Republic.
In Pakistan, arguments about the role of the Army in shaping the country’s fortunes are largely moot for one major reason: at a time when the governments in New Delhi and Kabul continue to exercise hostility against the peace within and the very existence of Pakistan, without a strong Army to defend the state, the state would descend into chaos as terror groups supported by foreign regimes would eventually overpower both regional governments and the national government. This would be the fate of Pakistan if one would be so naive as to think that discussions about democracy were any match for a highly skilled Army in fighting well known sources of nearby external aggression. Were the Army not always ready to protect lawful governance from foreign infiltration via terrorist agents, Pakistan would enter a new dark age – one which no peace loving people ever deserve to experience. To suggest otherwise would be to accept the black propaganda of foreign regimes who project their own violence onto Pakistan and in so doing, blame Pakistan’s establishment and also her people for the chaos that external forces have caused since the time of Pakistan’s founding.
Just because the worst of the years of terror are over, this does not mean that it is sensible to let down the collective guard of the nation. With India’s extremist BJP looking to use every dirty trick in the book to secure re-election and with the situation in Kabul far from stable, the time is rife for those who have always wished ill upon Pakistan to stage violent provocations against both civilians and against Pakistan’s genuine partners, including and especially China. The latter was seen in late 2018 when the Pakistani Security Forces heroically thwarted a major terror attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi.
For the cloistered elites of Islamabad, Lahore and other generally placid metropolises, the threat of constant terror might still seem remote. After all, such elites often have private security contingents as their first line of defence against any and all acts of criminality. As such, they have the luxury to debate about the merits of a democratic ideal which even in generally peaceful Europe is not holding fast, but is instead falling victim to popular agitation and the fomentation of both right wing and left wing extremist movements. Rather than congratulate the nation itself due to the fact that 2018’s general election was the most successful in terms of peace and efficiency in all of Pakistan’s history, such elites instead weave tall tales about Pakistan’s Army acting in a devious manner in respect of its relations with civilian government.
Such people tend not to recognise that Donald Trump’s closest confidants tend to be of a military background, while they also fail to recognise that in China, Xi Jinping is not only a civilian leader but like the US President, is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. By contrast, Pakistan’s Prime Minister takes a fully fledged civilian role but must necessarily work with rather than against the Army and ISI in order to keep the country safe.
If Pakistan’s Army were to be degraded, debased, under-funded or treated without the respect it has clearly earned, there would be no democratic governance in the country for there would be nothing to secure it against enemies on multiple sides of Pakistan’s borders. Likewise, there would more importantly be no economic renewal as the physical guardians of CPEC and other potential future projects with partners including Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey, would simply never get off the ground if the weight of the Army’s deterrence through strength did not produce international investor confidence in Pakistan.
Naya Pakistan is a civilian project centred on the concept of building internal harmony through the power of sustainable economic development. Yet in all the nations that have achieved great things on this model, none have done so by letting their guard down against those who know only how to resort to violence in order to destroy the productivity of others.
Naya Pakistan essentially rests on four main components:
1. Forward thinking policy making and enforcement by the civilian government
2. The collective will of a young population ready to work towards building a bright future
3. Foreign partnerships with multiple nations across the globe in order to rapidly achieve sustainable development goals
4. The security of the Army which enables all of the above to happen in the first place
The once stable United States is being laughed at as the President and his Congress cannot agree on seemingly anything, whilst the main US opposition party is now guided by the sole purpose of impeaching the president. In France, months of street protests have crippled the government’s ability to actually rule the nation. In Venezuela, a man in the street has declared himself President and no one knows how the military will react. In Britain, the nation is more divided than at any time in over 100 years over relations with the rest of Europe and yet these nations which have all existed long before the independence of Pakistan was declared, are in many areas, facing a rockier road in respect of their democratic development than that of Naya Pakistan.
Rather than look to score points based on insignificant and petty nitpicking, Pakistan’s elite ought to realise that at a time when both the Army and civilian government are doing their job and at a time when the Army continues to guarantee the safety of a nation surrounded by hostile actors, the very peace and prosperity that many assume pure democracy will bring, are concepts that can be amended at the ballot box but are ultimately only protected by the strength of an Army and ISI. This is because Pakistan’s Army leaders realise that the threats to Pakistan’s safety are vast and more significant than that which is imagined by elites who equate constant criticism with actual patriotism.