On the news that Gen. Raheel Sharif may accept a military advisor role in the Saudi sponsored so called anti terror coalition.
By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.
I hope the news isn’t true. If it is, then possibly this one of the most ill thought through decisions that Gen. Raheel has taken in his entire career.
For several reasons.
One. He must understand that he’s no Guderian or Rommel or Manstein. And he was able to deliver in Pakistan as a consequence of the brilliant well oiled machine called the Pakistan Army and it’s superior General Staff.
Two. While he must be credited with the decision to launch Zarb e Azb, it was the strategic and professional brilliance of Lt. Gen Ishfaq Nadeem his first CGS who masterminded and planned and executed all those brilliant successes which we lay at Raheel’s feet. The Raheel of the Ishfaq Nadeem CGS period vs the Raheel of the Zubair CGS period are two very different Raheel’s.
The former in command and control with successes in the war against terror and Karachi and the move against corruption within the Army. The latter Raheel, adrift, with Nawaz running rings around him, as I had warned in one of my earlier articles.
Let us also not forget the tremendous work done by Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in this war against terror and the battles fought in SWAT and BAJAUR by the likes of Lt. Gen Tariq and others much before Raheel took over.
While I don’t have first hand knowledge but many people who I spoke to and were close to the high command also credit Lt. Gen. Tariq Khan for his very critical, strategic and operational inputs in the planning and execution of Zarb e Azb.
Gen. Kayani’s military successes and brilliant strategic planning in cleansing 6 of the 7 FATA regions, except North Waziristan, have unfortunately been overshadowed by other events.
Or as one recently retired 3 star, a person of unimpeacable integrity, said “Exaggerated reporting of non-events”.
Gen. Kayani’s deserves much more credit than he gets and hopefully with time his true contributions will be acknowledged and the unfortunate shadows on his name, cleared, if that be the truth.
All the above is to illustrate that our military successes were the result of great minds coming together. And Raheel being Chief deserves all praise for taking the final decision.
Three and most importantly he cannot be seen to be siding with Saudi Arabia in its battle for Regional hegemony against Iran and clearly divided on sectarian grounds. For that is exactly what the Saudi sponsored so called anti terror coalition is. It’s a hugely divisive issue across the Muslim world and especially in Pakistan. Also irrespective of the sectarian contours, a very large segment of Pakistani society squarely blame Saudi Arabia as the prime mover behind Pakistan’s terrible journey of terror.
How can he in his right mind, therefore, support a country, Saudi Arabia which has been the prime source of terrorism not just in Pakistan, the Muslim world but the entire globe?
A country that has directly and indirectly financed and equipped Daesh, Al Qaeda and their proxies in Syria and Iraq in its battle against Assad and Iran.
A country that has bombed a poor impoverished fellow country, Yemen, to the stone age, killing tens of thousands of innocent people, women and children.
Finally, the Saudis will use him and discard him like tissue paper, leaving him without honour and reputation which he has so painstakingly built up in Pakistan.
And Nawaz Sharif wringing his hands in glee having cut down to size a larger than life figure.
Some people have equated taking up this assignment as being similar to a business consultant like myself making their services available to whoever can pay the price.
Here’s how I see this
Military consulting as one could call it, also goes by another name, “A Mercenary for hire”.
This is a soldier of fortune who will go and fight for anybody who pays him the right price
Raheel is not a mercenary but will be if he takes up this assignment, despite what he has done for Pakistan. Which was his duty, by the way!
Our Army has never had in its entire history a former Army chief, selling his services to another country, irrespective of objective.
The only formal process is where we offer our services under the UN flag.
That’s principle number one.
Of course we have had occasions where senior officers have been employed by foreign governments.
Recently we had Gen. Pasha being employed by UAE. This was and is frowned upon and not liked.
In earlier days NO RETIRED ARMY OFFICER could be employed by a foreign government under the rules, unless expressly approved by the Army Chief and the President of Pakistan. This may have changed.
Of course we sent military contingents and or advisers, all in service and in uniform to other countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Zimbabwe etc under a government to government formal agreement.
But never retired Pakistan Army Chiefs up for sale! And that too negotiating his assignment while in office. What’s depths have we fallen to?
It’s like Malik Riaz was the Chief!
The second thing is that this so called Saudi anti terror coalition is nothing but a front created by Saudi Arabia to legitimize their proxy war and battle with Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and Yemen.
It is really strange that all these five countries, who are in the forefront in fighting DAESH and ALQAEDA are the only five countries not included in this so called coalition?
Lest we forget, Raheel will join a coalition, which Pakistan refused to join based on a Parliamentary vote.
So while I laud everyone’s love for Raheel, which I also have and I also consider him a national hero, but I will always call a spade a spade.
And in this case the Emperor is not wearing any clothes!
And yes in many ways, all those who ‘sell” their services to other countries, including me, are also mercenaries of sorts.
Because we also sell our services to the highest bidder. Money being the only criteria.
And hence we are no different to those wonderful people of the “oldest profession”!
But this doesn’t make us being either a mercenary, or a member of the oldest profession, a nice thing!
Raheel you played a good innings and the nation is forever indebted to you for Zarb e Azb. This is not to take away your tremendous leadership and clarity of command.
You took a bold decision and you are our National hero!
One wished you had thrown that evil woman Maryam Safdar behind bars for leaking the Cyril Almeida story with the full connivance of her father Nawaz Sharif to the Press and bring public disrepute to the Pakistan Army.
One would have hoped that you had used the Rangers in Punjab, much the same way as you did in SIND. One would have hoped that you had somehow evicted these leeches Nawaz Sharif and Zardari from their stranglehold over Pakistan for a better and brighter future for all of us.
One would have hoped much more but we understand you couldn’t.
You did what you could and we are grateful to you and the Army for that!
But for God’s sake.
For your own sake and for Pakistan and for the sake of this army which has given you so much honour and respect do not take this stupid and foolhardy decision to go and work like a mercenary for a country and a ruling family whose hands have the blood of millions of innocent people.
You and all Pakistanis will always be “Miskeen” running to them with our tails between our legs when they throw money at us. And I’m sure they’ve thrown plenty.
But, Raheel we all know you are a person of unimpeachable integrity and honour. There have been unconfirmed reports of your donation to a Shuhada Foundation. If true, clearly you don’t néed the money nor the prestige.
What more prestige can you ask for over and above than being the Chief of this great Army?
I smell a great conspiracy to besmirch your hard earned reputation and that of this Army through this “money trap”.
Beware the evil plans of Nawaz Sharif. Nothing is beyond him in his desire for total control. Including using his Arab “friends” as he did in the infamous Qatari letters in Panama.
Nawaz Sharif is capable of anything.
If as some say; he can get the Indians to start firing across the LOC when he’s in trouble, he can go to any limits to destroy this Army and bring it to heel and use Saudi Arabia to do his dirty work.
So please for the sake of your honour, dignity and self respect and do not accept this “money trap”!
You owe it to your country, to your Army to your family and to yourself!
This is postscript to my piece on Raheel’s role as Military Advisor or Commander in Saudi Arabia.
It appears and from what one hears, Raheel may be finally accepting the role, after all. Or perhaps has already accepted.
Perhaps he has reasons and or compulsions that we don’t know and clearly he thinks its the right thing to do.
And also, for a person like him, money is not the lure.
He may have a vision of playing a greater role for the Muslim commonwealth, perhaps in uniting them and save them from destroying each other, as they are doing in Yemen, Iraq and Syria and other sectarian conflict environments like Pakistan.
So, unfortunately, if he has decided to go and take up the offer, and the proverbial die is cast, here are some suggestions for him to make an impact. Or make an honourable face saving exit, if the Saudis don’t agree
Leverage your role Raheel, and your stature and your equity.
Rather than take on the role of a military commander or advisor, use your equity with the Saudis to engage the OIC and under the aegis of the OIC, take on the task of “Special Ambassador of Unity” or some such title.
This will then convey to main belligerents within the Muslim world that you are apolitical and not aligned to one group, such as Saudi Arabia.
The first objective of this role should be to bring the two major warring parties, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the conversation table.
Negotiations will come later. They must come together first to start conversations.
You should become the major interlocutor, facilitator, prime mover between the two countries and have them start negotiations to agree on some key common denominators and end this terrible proxy war which is destroying the Muslim world.
Chiefly, here are five things OR objectives you can set for yourself.
1. Everyone to agree that DAESH and AL Qaeda and their proxies such as Fatha Al Shaam are the common enemy.
2. Iran will not attempt, directly or indirectly, to destabilize or attack the Saudi monarchy and other Gulf monarchies.
3. Saudi Arabia will withdraw all direct and indirect, support to Al Qaeda and their proxies in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
4. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries and Iran will stop funding and financing Sunni and Shia sectarian outfits in other countries. This includes clamping down on funding by non government groups and citizena and residents of these countries.
5. The creation of a NATO type, military alliance, under the OIC, and not Saudi Arabia, to fight the war on terror against, Daesh, Al Qaeda and their proxies. This alliance must include Iran, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, the only five countries actively fighting Daesh and Al Qaeda. Raheel, you can then head this body, staffed by outstanding planners from member countries, including Pakistan. Especially senior Field Commanders and General Staff planners from Pakistan ( e.g Ishfaq Nadeem, Tariq Khan) as well as others from Iran, Iraq and Syria, and other countries who have the greatest experience in fighting DAESH and AL Qaeda. Another major goal should be to have a united policy approach towards the USA, Russia, China and the EU
Raheel, you have taken on a huge task. Controversial no doubt and complex.
Please remember, you will be judged, not by what you say about your intentions or what your well wishers say, but what history says about you and what you were able to accomplish or not accomplish.
Your success will be conditional to being seen as an independant leader, and not in the pay of one country or the other.
Please also remember, that the Pakistan Army is perhaps the finest fighting force, certainly amongst the Muslim countries. And it has the huge added force multiplier of its nuclear capability and missile delivery systems.
It is the biggest bulwark against the enemies of Pakistan and in many ways, the enemies of other Muslim countries.
The enemies of Pakistan are making and will continue to make every effort to cut down and destroy this Army, its leadership and its soldiery, with very willing partners in crime within our own country.
The Quislings of Pakistan.
And we all know who these people are and how they want to bring this great Army to its knees.
Nawaz Sharif, tops this list!
So, whatever you do, remember, it will have huge repercussions, both good and or bad.
Tread carefully, my friend. History’s judgement awaits you!
Your legacy will be written by your final acts.
Either a De Gaulle or a Petain.