Daily The Business

Blood and bread both

Muhammad Usman

The blood is life and in English slang, bread is money. Men in arms gave both on eve of Eid-ul-Fitr for the causes which they always consider larger than themselves. One day prior to festive day, Imran Khan tweeted, announcing military’s unprecedented voluntary initiative of stringent cut in defense expenditure for next FY because of critical financial situation of the country despite multiple security challenges. It was the bread and blood followed. Two Frontier Corps troops were martyred in a terrorist attack when on patrolling on Eid’s security duties in Harnai, Balochistan. Three officers including a Lt Col and one soldier, embraced shahadat when their patrol vehicle was hit by an IED, laid by miscreants in area of Kharqamar, North Wazirstan.
In classical sense, no action of our Armed Forces is unprecedented becauseits essence never changes. It could change the form, not the substance. National cause always comes first and their comfort and lives second. Thisis not only confined to their mandated responsibilities but goes far beyond its confines because nation cannot be left at mercy of circumstances. Nationhood is engraved at deep recess of their hearts. The oath is instilled in them before it is taken. A mere look on what they did ungrudgingly, over more than a decade, would attest the fact. Undoubtedly, that was the most turbulent time of our national life. The tasks within their designation and beyond, included terrorism, militancy in Balochistan, civil disorder in Karachi, frequent escalations at Line of Control, Indian intrigues in league with Afghanistan, taming US mantra of Do More, pressing diplomacy/international commitments, massive reconstruction/rehabilitation work in tribal areas, affected by terrorism, gigantic task of fencing Pak Afghan border, security of CPEC, relief work in natural disasters, help in organizing national events of national importance as of national census, general elections and IPL matches and emergencies calling SOS response etc.
The terrorism entered in our alleys and households while posing existential threat to our society and country. The role of state institutions could not be over emphasized in combating terrorism but practically, all of them were nearly dysfunctional.Numerous fissures made their way in our body politics. These ought to have severe repressions of its own particularly, when going is tough and treacherous. In Pakistan, democracy continued with twists and turns and obviously failed to plant its feet firmly however, still remained an aspiration of people andprobablythe only way out from morasses of almost all types, we have fallenin.In our environments, democracy had one permanent downside. It remained prone to fall hostageto our erstwhile ruling elite. The continuity in democratic system was considered an imperative to break their shackles which would certainly entail cost as well as extra burden for someone else to carry until system gets mature.
This was the setting and Armed Forces decided to take up the challenges with extra load at their back for sake of the country and rose to the occasion. Now country is relatively far better placed however, still a long way to go, to be out of the woods completely. Consequently, they have not lowered their guards and stand ready to assist government in whatever way they could. The martyrs’ blood spilled on Eid days and voluntary cut in defense spending is an apt manifestation of their unrelenting resolve and readiness. General Bajwa has said that impact of cuts in military budget would be managed by tightening belt in areas where it did not affect operational capacity. This is no favor to nation. We are one, through thick and thin. It is another apt illustration. The nation trusts because they have demonstrated it many times before.
On the other hand, there is ruling elite which cast aspersions upon them. They call them a state within state or an ultimate arbitrator. The insinuations of such sort stood hollow when PM Imran Khan visited GHQ. Everyone from top to down was seen avid to receive him, salute him and brief him conscientiously, not to miss out anything which he ought to know. It was a natural expression of trust by a body, ready to follow a man whole heartedly who could take the country to its ultimate destination of shared destiny. The ruling elite needs to know that trust, respect and prestige are earned in office. Its abuse could only scuttle them. There are some critics who raise eye brows on defense budget and may try to belittle instant monetary sacrifice of Armed Forces. They need to know that in terms of resources, our Armed Forces may be the biggest in world but in view of threat perception, these are the smallest. The freedom has no price because in a country, either there would be own Army or of enemy. They need to shun illusions or something else which prompt them. It seems, being out of power and accountability of their misdeeds, ruling elite could do anything which could revive their fortunes. At present, their potshot is on economy and PTM to aggravate the situation faced by the country. They misrepresent/influence everything which could reset broken economy on track. They have aligned themselves with PTM; a foreign sponsored organisation. This is more alarming when seen in backdrop of Dawn Leaks and Memo gate scandals. This is not politics. It is working against the state. They need to be dealt with severely.

The writer, retired Lt Col, is
freelance columnist based in Islamabad

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