“… the mil­i­tary has been fall­ing short of the ex­pec­ta­tions of the peo­ple ‘to cor­rect the course’ ”

- Gen. (R) Mirza As­lam Beg, for­mer Chief of Staff, Pak­istan Army

Southasia - - Cover story -

Gen­eral (R) Mirza As­lam Beg shares his learned views on the chang­ing per­cep­tion sur­round­ing the Pak­istan Armed Forces: Neg­a­tive im­age of Pak­istan Armed Forces in light of re­cent events:

It is not the im­age which has been im­pacted but the mil­i­tary has been fall­ing short of the ex­pec­ta­tions of the peo­ple ‘to cor­rect the course’, re­gard­ing the de­fi­ance of the court or­ders; re­tard­ing the process of ac­count­abil­ity and ram­pant cor­rup­tion by the sit­ting gov­ern­ment. Peo­ple, now have the feel­ing that the armed forces may them­selves have be­come ac­com­plice to the crime. Fac­tors con­tribut­ing to cor­ro­sion in pub­lic per­cep­tion:

The main fac­tor is the same as men­tioned above. Un­der the cir­cum­stances, it is the armed forces who must in­ter­vene un­der Ar­ti­cle 190 of the Con­sti­tu­tion. Hes­i­ta­tion to do so is a mat­ter of con­cern, as it is fraught with a dan­ger­ous drift. How to im­prove Armed Forces’ im­age:

The armed forces must come for­ward to “cor­rect the course”, which means:

• Pro­vide pro­tec­tion to the apex court to im­ple­ment court or­ders and es­tab­lish rule of law.

• Pro­vide pro­tec­tion to the apex court to carry out above board ac­count­abil­ity, without in­ter­fer­ence by the gov­ern­ment.

• In or­der to check cor­rup­tion and mal­prac­tices, early elec­tions are the only an­swer, to be held un­der a Na­tional Gov­ern­ment (Bangladesh model). This is the col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the peo­ple and the armed forces. Me­dia’s pos­i­tive role in safe­guard­ing the na­tional in­ter­est:

They have played a very pos­i­tive role by high­light­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions of the peo­ple from the armed forces at these very try­ing mo­ments. Some may have trans­gressed the limit. In do­ing so, in their very mo­ment of anx­i­ety, they share with the broad masses. Me­dia has cre­ated a level of aware­ness, which was totally miss­ing in 1971, when Dhaka fell, to the ut­ter dis­may of the na­tion. ISPR’s role in pro­mot­ing im­age of Armed Forces in cor­rect per­spec­tive:

ISPR mainly car­ries out cri­sis man-

age­ment tasks. It needs to fol­low a long-term pol­icy of ‘en­gage­ment with the me­dia,’ and the peo­ple, based on open­ness, in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and dis­crete con­tact both at higher and gross roots level. Me­dia’s in­flu­ence on think­ing of gen­eral pub­lic:

It has been able to main­tain a high level of pub­lic aware­ness, with re­gard to all the ma­jor is­sues. It has not acted against na­tional in­ter­ests. A few ex­cep­tions may be there but, by and large, it has acted re­spon­si­bly, cre­at­ing a de­gree of aware­ness amongst the peo­ple, which I con­sider an as­set and the driv­ing force for change. Fu­ture role of me­dia in safe­guard­ing the na­tional in­ter­est:

Me­dia also has a role to cor­rect things where they go wrong. For ex­am­ple, they have the shared re­spon­si­bil­ity to join the ef­forts and find peace with our trib­als, with whom we are en­gaged in a run­ning bat­tle for the last six years. This would help Pak­istan to also pro­vide a safe exit to the oc­cu­pa­tion forces from Afghanistan – the “mother of all evil.” ◆

In­ter­viewed by SouthA­sia

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