General Ghulam Mustafa (Retired) is a War veteran Defense Analyst. The general is a former Commander Army Strategic Force Command and Commander 1 Corps Mangla during the regime of General Pervaiz Musharaf.
We had a talk with the general on the current situation of the country:-
The Narrative: What do you think where the civ and military relations stand, post MNS disqualification?
Gen Mustafa: In my opinion the civil and military relations are very bad now. The narrative being built by Mian Nawaz Sharif is fathomable because he is being disqualified and anticipate serious consequences of this, he has a political axe to grind. He is going after mounting a narrative that the Army behind handed the Supreme Court due to which Supreme Court disqualified him. Army has guaranteed him not once but many times that the army has nothing to do with Supreme Court’s judgement. Another distortion which Mian Nawaz Sharif is thinning out that the registrar supreme court precluded the same petition earlier but the same was accepted later. This is absolutely off beam, the petition had some technical demurral due to which it was rejected and later accepted once the technicalities were addressed. The Army does not like the venom being spited by Nawaz Sharif and his cronies on them, one must appreciate that the army has a unique and powerful internal dynamics of rank and file. The army chief may be accountable to the government on few things but he is answerable to his troops for everything. The officers and troops do not feel shy asking anything which bug their mind from their chief. They do ask the chief about the venom spited on them even after laying their lives for the country and countrymen. The civil military relations are deteriorating day by day and the political leadership is not realizing this.
The Narrative: Do you think political implosion is imminent in Pakistan?
General Mustafa: The way things are going, you can’t help it. But the political leadership does not comprehend that they are keeping Nawaz Sharif and family on one side and rest of the Pakistan on other side. What else has altered less the Prime Minister, the political government of same very N League is still in place and the system of the country is in place. Why are they beating the bush about Nawaz Sharif and his family why they do not talk about Pakistan? If you look at the matters being distant, you will feel that the whole lot has become hostage to one man that is Nawaz Sharif. Every Pakistani should have full faith in Supreme Court. The decision of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification is given by Supreme Court which cannot be undone in streets, is this he way to go about things. If they want to undo the decision of Supreme Court in the streets than they are calling in the political implosion.
The Narrative: The political leadership of national stature does not exist in in the country, do you think less Mian Nawaz Sharif is the leader of national stature?
General Mustafa: No, Mian Nawaz Sharif is not the leader of national stature in anyways. What say Mian Nawaz Sharif has outside Punjab? If PML (N) is a political party of national level than they should have strong presence in every province which they do not have. Regrettably, there is no political leader in the country who is of national stature who can be termed as statesmen, the one who thinks beyond himself, beyond his party lines and has a say in public from Karachi to Khyber. I am sure that national level political leadership never take the matters of Supreme Court to the streets and never try to create unrest in the country for personal misdoings. The decision of Supreme Court can be undone in streets in banana republics not in constitutional republics.
The Narrative: How serious you think is the democratic government to fight terrorism? Why there is no implementation of NAP yet?
General Mustafa: The decision to make NAP surfaced after a very tragic incident of APS Peshawar, everyone joined hands on NAP because of public fear as if they did not consent the NAP the public will turn against them, or due to some vested interest of gaining something out of this. Soon after the announcement of NAP, Moulana Fazal Ur Rehman and Siraj ul Haq took their real heart out of NAP, they both said we will not let this happen on religion basis. I am sure the stance of Moulana Fazal Ur Rehman and Siraj ul Haq set the tone of failure of NAP. Mian Nawaz Sharif and his team also realized there will be a lot of political price to be paid because of implementation of NAP. We must remember that the American success in war against terrorism is may be because of many reasons. But it is also because the Americans were able to put in place a very good organizational structure which was responsive to the need. War on terror requires an agile, very quick and very smart decision making which is nonexistent in Pakistan.
The Narrative: Is it right that there is no resolve at government level to fight the war on terror?
General Mustafa: I do not think our political leadership was ever thoughtful about it even after fully understanding the nature of war we are in, they are very brainy people. But they are petrified of going for this war heartedly because it will cost them politically.
The Narrative: It is not a war against terror, it is a full scale proxy war in which many international player are involved, and can army alone with no solid support from the government?
General Mustafa: No, this is not Pakistan Army’s war. This is a war of G4 and G5 level where you have international establishments, international corporations, international media, and vested international political and economic Interests are involved. This is all in the backdrop of struggle to dominate Indian Ocean and also the Euro-Asian landmark. These are the two strategic objectives for which the USA is present in the region, China is coming in very big way and the Russians have joined hands with them. If you take a look at the matters in this background, the role of Pakistan Army is not more than 5 to 7 percent. Rest has to be done by the government and political parties. It is the need of time that political parties should educate, make them aware and mobilize the nation because only political parties can mobilize the nation. Unfortunately there is no effort from the government side as well by the political parties.
“We must understand that there is an institutional balance inherent in the success of constitution”
The Narrative: What you think is the military stance on pleading the dawn leaks agenda by the democratic government on international forums like Khawaja Asif’s address to Asia society in USA as his stance was in total contrast to the statement of Army Chief?
General Mustafa: Khawaja Asif went way ahead of himself. He made imbalance statements without any proper thought on the subject. In my opinion the Military is upset on this because such stance by a foreign minister on international forum directly reflects on the military. The people of Pakistan must take a look at the whole matter in a back drop particularly of Dawn Leaks, the government conspired to build a narrative against the military. This is important to keep in mind that Pakistan Army does everything together with the political government, the army does not do anything in isolation or on its own. Most of the times political leadership give statements just for political consumption but one has to be very careful in making statements keeping in mind the national interest. Such actions by the government are doing nothing just weakening the country and making its own military controversial.
The Narrative: Why USA declared Jamat ud Dawa as terrorist organization?
General Mustafa: As far Jamat ud Dawa is concerned, they never fought or did anything against USA and they had not played any role in Afghanistan either. But still Jamat ud Dawa is declared as terrorist organization by USA and it is just because of strong Indian foreign policy and unfortunately our democratic government is supporting the Indian narrative. Indirectly you are backing out of your own Kashmir commitments. Jamat ud Dawa actually worked for the welfare of the Kashmiri people as well as Jamat e Islami. If ever Jamat ud Dawa worked for Kashmiri people, how does it contradict with Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir?
The Narrative: What is your opinion as why Pakistan Army did not invoke official secret act on the matter of dawn leaks?
General Mustafa: They could have and in my opinion they should have, it could have actually brought out what is wrong with your media? And how media and certain elements in the government get manipulated the matters of national importance? There is nothing wrong at all while the Prime Minister, office bearers of PM secretariat and the chief of army staff discussing anything on God’s earth. But you cannot deliberately manufacture or craft a news and deliver to the media with malafidie intentions.
The Narrative: We understand that the military support the democracy, but can it be at the cost of Pakistan’s sovereignty?
General Mustafa: Not at all, I personally feel that we are in impasse. Impasse is, at government level there is no understanding of the spirit of the constitution. I am fortunate to read the constitution and the explanation of the constitution written by a very fine jurist Justice Shababr Raza Rizvi. After reading the constitution I realized that this is very interesting document which everyone should read and understand. “We must understand that there is an institutional balance inherent in the success of constitution”. It is not being done in Pakistan.
The Narrative: Do you think, it is not about law, or institutional functionality, or best practices or morality but it has come to the point as to who has the muscle?
General Mustafa: In a way yes, absolutely right. Army is perceived to have all the muscles because they have the gun and general perception is since they have the gun, they can force the issue and they have done that in the past. But now there is a different environment altogether, army is not ready to do that. So, the muscle which army is supposed to have actually has not been used, therefore, the political government takes up that muscle. In this political government one man Mian Nawaz Sharif takes all the decisions which is absolutely unconstitutional. This political government was always unwilling to fulfil constitutional requirement. Supreme Court of Pakistan forced Mian Nawaz Sharif to call the meeting of the cabinet, Supreme Court of Pakistan forced the government to hold local body’s elections. There is a defense committee of the cabinet which is a constitutional body and they are supposed to meet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister to decide all the matters pertaining to national security, unfortunately this committee has never met. What do you expect Pakistan Army to do? Army is fighting war on terror, Army only gives suggestion of national significance to the government
The Narrative: The political government spreads a perception that Pakistan Army does not let them make foreign policy?
General Mustafa: This is absolutely false perception, foreign office is under the government, all ambassadors and embassy staff is being appointed by the political government not by the army. For four years the political government did not appoint the foreign minister, don’t you think somebody has to fill that gap? Previously General Raheel Sharif was taking a lot of burden of the government and now General Bajwa is taking a lot of burden. Firstly, it is not Army Chief’s brief, secondly the chief has so many other things to do. The decision making should be institutional, may that be foreign policy or national security policy but the political government does not want to do it, Mian Nawaz Sharif wants that whatever he says should be done.
To Be Continued……………