The bag­gage of Ra­heel Sharif

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Lt Col (R) Khalid Ma­sood Khan

AS per the re­cent state­ment re­leased by ISPR, General Ra­heel Sharif plans to re­tire from his as­sign­ment as COAS when his term ends. In or­der to curb the hype cre­ated on the me­dia about his ex­ten­sion, the COAS has very hon­ourably de­clared that he would re­tire when his three year term ends and would not ac­cept any fur­ther ex­ten­sion. Cer­tainly this is un­prece­dented in our his­tory. That's what is ex­pected from a deco­rous man who hails from a very dig­ni­fied fam­ily. His bag­gage is too heavy to stay on af­ter the due date of re­tire­ment. General Sharif comes from a fam­ily that has two Nis­han-e-Haiders and one Si­tara-e-Ju­rat to their credit (among close blood rel­a­tives) and the fam­ily is highly re­spected all over the coun­try due to their sac­ri­fices and loy­alty to the na­tion. Un­doubt­edly he has the hon­our of be­ing one of the most re­spected and well re­puted Chiefs of the Pak­istan Army and has, in a mat­ter of less than two years, done for the coun­try what couldn't be done in the pre­vi­ous 8-10 years. The na­tion today stands united be­hind him to curb the men­ace of ter­ror­ism as well as fi­nan­cial ter­ror­ism from Pak­istan. Un­for­tu­nately though, he has to re­tire and go home in Novem­ber 2016. Bar­ring few small pock­ets of re­sis­tance in Shawal Val­ley, op­er­a­tion Zarb-eAzab has been suc­cess­fully com­pleted in the North West­ern ar­eas. The other phase of the op­er­a­tion which had started si­mul­ta­ne­ously against the ter­ror­ists and fi­nan­cial ter­ror­ism in ur­ban ar­eas is in full swing. The ques­tion is, will he be able to bring his mis­sion to a "log­i­cal con­clu­sion" as he had been pro­fess­ing, with only about eight months to go?

Op­er­a­tion Zarb-e-Azab com­menced in June 2014. The op­er­a­tion was planned and ex­e­cuted in a bril­liant man­ner which en­tailed the evac­u­a­tion of refugees from the tribal ar­eas and evict­ing the ter­ror­ists from the rugged ter­rain of North and South Waziris­tan by launch­ing his di­vi­sions and cap­tur­ing and hold­ing the far­thest ends of the tribal ar­eas, which even the Bri­tish had failed to do dur­ing the colo­nial pe­riod. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, a cleanup op­er­a­tion was also con­ducted in Karachi by the Sindh Rangers. Tan­gi­ble re­sults from this op­er­a­tion are ev­i­dent af­ter about a year and a half, in the shape of sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion in tar­get killings and bomb blasts and the reign­ing in of the "Bhata Mafia" (ex­tor­tion mafia). The op­er­a­tions in KPK and Balochis­tan are also meet­ing with great suc­cesses. Op­er­a­tions against fi­nan­cial ter­ror­ism have re­cently started. Most im­por­tantly, elite crim­i­nals, who un­der the cover of dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties are in­volved in fi­nan­cial ter­ror­ism, have also been ar­rested. This is strongly re­sented by the po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Of spe­cial note is the re­open­ing of old cases in­volv­ing sit­ting MNAs and Min­is­ters of the rul­ing PML-N. This has led to as­per­sions be­ing cast by the rul­ing elite upon NAB, which is lead by an ex Mil­i­tary Of­fi­cer and is said to be men­tored by the Mil­i­tary.

The sad news of his im­pend­ing re­tire­ment has dis­mayed the en­tire na­tion, es­pe­cially the ed­u­cated class, which had high hopes that the on­go­ing op­er­a­tion would lead the bleed­ing Na­tion out of the crises of ter­ror­ism and cor­rup­tion led by a "mes- siah" who had fi­nally ar­rived in the form of Ra­heel Sharif. Con­versely, how­ever, there are a few peo­ple who are very happy and did not hes­i­tate to ap­pre­ci­ate the ISPR an­nounce­ment for the ful­fill­ment of 'con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments' by the General. Mr. Zar­dari is at the lead in giv­ing a state­ment hail­ing this de­ci­sion fol­lowed by the MQM lead­er­ship. Ad­di­tion­ally, a sec­tion of the me­dia that has cre­ated a fake yard­stick of pa­tri­o­tism for General Sharif in re­tir­ing on due date is also ve­he­mently beat­ing on the same drum.

His­tory tells us that when­ever mil­i­tary chiefs take over the coun­try from cor­rupt politi­cians the na­tion ini­tially hailed their ac­tions but even­tu­ally, af­ter a pro­longed stay, re­viled them. Ayub Khan's pop­u­lar­ity reached its peak af­ter the Indo-Pak war of 1965, which was even­tu­ally fol­lowed by his down­fall in late six­ties, General Zia's ini­tial pop­u­lar­ity when he took over from ZAB but be­came in­creas­ingly un­pop­u­lar dur­ing the lat­ter part of his rule. A sim­i­lar fate be­fell General Mushar­raf's, whose pop­u­lar­ity waned in his fi­nal years of rule. Genen­eral Kayani's case, how­ever, was dif­fer­ent from his pre­de­ces­sors, as he did not take over but in­stead, got a three year ex­ten­sion as COAS. This fac­tor must also have been care­fully con­sid­ered by Ra­heel Sharif, fur­ther adding weight to his bag­gage.

Hon­est lead­er­ship yields can­did and ded­i­cated com­pan­ions. His­tor­i­cally, great lead­ers who have changed the tide of his­tory due to their dy­namic per­son­al­ity traits tended to cre­ate de­voted teams around them­selves that were in­spired by their lead­ers and achieved their goals no mat­ter how dif­fi­cult they might have been.

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