By Masood.Ur.Rehman Khattak, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, October 14, 2013
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is set to retire on November 29th, 2013 after serving 42 years in Pakistan Army on many key positions. General Kayani played an important role in the political and security issues of Pakistan. He would be remembered as a “pro-Democracy General” in the history of Pakistan. During his tenure, he got many chances to topple the corrupt government, but he always supported democratic norms in Pakistan. Instead of coup, he settled many political issues with patience and tolerance and allowed democratic government to flourish.
He spent six years as Chief of Army Staff, the most powerful job in Pakistan army. During these years, he had to face many challenges including internal subversion, bitter relationship with India, Afghanistan, America and rest of the world.
From 2007 to 2013, Pakistan has faced numerous security challenges. The phenomenon of suicide attacks emerged after the Lal Masjid incident in 2007. These suicide attacks played havoc with the security situation of Pakistan. Other major challenge to General Kayani emerged in 2007. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan emerged as an organized group to carry out war against Pakistan government and military. In two years, they were able to control most parts of tribal areas and Malakand region. Under the leadership of General Kayani, Pakistan army was asked to eliminate militancy from FATA, Swat and its adjoining areas. Pakistan army carried out successful operations in Swat and South Waziristan agency against Mullah Fazalullah and Baitullah Mehsud group. TTP lost its stronghold in south Waziristan and they were compelled to take shelter in other tribal agencies, Afghanistan, Karachi and other parts of Pakistan. Mullah Fazalullah with his cronies moved to Afghanistan, and, according to reports, is still hiding in Nuristan or Kunar province in Afghanistan and carrying out its militant activities against Pakistan. This group has carried out many cross border raids against Pakistan security forces from Kunar and Nuristan province in which many innocent civilians and military personnel lost their lives. Under the leadership of General Kayani, Pakistan military dealt with these cross border raids and improved security situation close to the border with Afghanistan.
General Kayani during his tenure played an important role on Afghan policy. He declared many times in his six year tenure that Pakistan’s interests and concerns must be respected in Afghanistan. He thoroughly defended Pakistan’s position on Afghan reconciliation process and extended his full support for Afghan peace process.
He declared that Pakistan wants peace and stability in Afghanistan. He urged many times in the past that dialogue and reconciliation process should be Afghan led. This is the reason that Pakistan has released Afghan Taliban in their custody to speed up dialogue process in Afghanistan.
General Kayani also raised Indian influence and its negative role in Afghanistan and condemned it on many forums. He believed Afghan soil should never be used against Pakistan. During his tenure this issue was raised that India is providing funding and training to militants in tribal areas and Balochistan.
Moreover, his policy on war against terror needs appreciation. He defended Pakistan’s stance on many occasions with high profile delegations of the US or NATO forces. After Salalah check post attack by the US and NATO forces, he took a tough stance against America. First he ordered an inquiry into this incident, in which it was clearly declared that the US and NATO forces were responsible for the attack. The next step was to block the US and NATO supplies from Pakistan. Many delegations from NATO and America during this period tried to convince General Kayani, but his response was simple and clear that “I am not convinced”. This shows his acumen and love for his men and country. He dispelled any pressure or threat from the US or its allies. The US and their allies were compelled to accept their mistake.
General Kayani in his speech clearly declared that Pakistan is not facing any major threat externally, but it is facing a major challenge internally from terrorism and extremism.
Terrorism and extremism played havoc with Pakistan’s internal security. More than 50,000 people in Pakistan lost their lives in the war against terror. Hundreds of Pakistan army officers and soldiers were martyred in last one decade.
General Kayani not only raised morale of his men in uniform, but also gave hope to the people of Pakistan. He never succumbed to the pressure and always showed his resolve to take on these militants who are challenging the writ of the state.
His policy of non-interference in the politics of Pakistan remained unchanged throughout his stay in office. Although Pakistan’s previous government was involved in heinous crimes, including Memogate issue, corruption, mismanagement, gruesome situation of governance, sacking of CJP and anti-Pakistan policies, he supported it and did not topple the elected government.
General Kayani’s policy towards India has also been remarkable. His comments on India’s Cold Start doctrine and military modernization were laudable. He said we built our policies on enemy’s capabilities, not intentions and any policy whether it is Cold Start Doctrine or proactive military operations, would be taken as a total war against Pakistan and its consequences will be uncertain.
His policy against India was based on rational approach. To counter Indian aggressive doctrine, Pakistan army conducted largest military exercises with the name Azm-i-Nau under the command of General Kayani. Test and induction of Hatf-IX missile also took place in his tenure. This missile is short range and would be used to checkmate any Indian aggressive move against Pakistan. He believed in credible minimum deterrence against India. With least resources, he ensured Pakistan’s security from any external threat.
His role in the rehabilitation of Balochistan can never be forgotten. Under his command, thousands of Baloch youth joined Pakistan army. He embraced Baloch youth and brought them to limelight from isolation and darkness. His steps in Balochistan ensured Pakistan’s unity and survival.
Pakistan army under his command opened many technical training schools and institutes in tribal areas. These initiatives by General Kayani would help these people earn a respectable livelihood and they would never join militants or Taliban. This is a long term investment by General Kayani for the better future of Pakistan. Other than these technical institutes, General Kayani has started a de-radicalization program in tribal areas and Malakand division. The purpose of this program is to eradicate terrorism and extremism from these areas and educate captured militants in the light of Quran and Sunnah. General Kayani, throughout his tenure, stood with his Jawans. He visited his men after Giyari sector incident; he visited his men after any major terrorist attack in tribal areas or Malakand division; he always led from the front and embraced his men and raised their morale on many occasions whether it was Eid or any other event. General Kayani’s role in Pakistan will always be remembered. He will be remembered by the people of Pakistan for his support to democracy, rule of law, and his fight against militancy and extremism.