The most important part of the COAS’ speech is about the external challenges of regional peace and stability, which he directly and rightly linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute by calling it the “jugular vein”
Every year, the nation withits armed forces marksthe 30th of April as “Martyrs’ Day”, commonly known as “Youm e Shuhada” – atradition started by the armed forces under the command of ex-COAS, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani.
Every year, the speech of the serving COAS holds importance for many analysts, as people see it as an open address not only meant for closed circles but also to the general masses, and to the nation on behalf of the families and the blood of the martyrs that was spilled while defending this nation.
This time around, the speech delivered by the COAS Gen Raheel Sharif delivers many open messages, while discussing the upcoming challenges for the nation and, subsequently, for the institutions responsible for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan. These are the internal and external challenges.
While carefully going through the tone and the message delivered by the COAS, one can adequately conclude that it was a brief but comprehensive, balanced and powerful speech – amotivational message for all and caution for some. The Chief has clearly drawn a line for the institutions of the state, the armed forces, the constituent assembly and media, especially giving an assurance of holding their end of the bargain, by not transgressing the constitutional boundaries, but at the same time reminding others to do the same. The statement and gesture shows that the ongoing war of turf between a prime institution and a private corporation is going to end soon, through a bargain and assurance from both sides to keep the national interest intact. The message was later taken positively by different political and social quarters, to the extent of saying that the “freedom” they are enjoying is because of the Armed Forces.
To all those who harbor any doubt about the capability and professionalism of our armed forces, the Chief reminded them of the Army’s role in International Peacekeeping. By repeatedly seeking out the services of Pak Army, the UN has shown confidence in their abilities. This also should boost the morale of the junior officers and instill professionalism in them.
It was also reminded to the miscreants, who hold no respect for the constitution and law of Pakistan, that though the Armed Forces acceptpeace talks as a ground reality, but there should remain no doubt in the minds of the political bodies, the mediating committees and above all the insurgents, that the capability of taking out the insurgents at any given time is not out of question. This message came before the message of Shahidullah Shahid, who repeated the same decadent line of striking the interests of Pakistan, but this time around,with a shaky tone.
The Chief in his speech appreciated the role of the civil armed forces by acknowledging their efforts and sacrifices in the war against terror, (Police, rangers, levies, etc.). By embracing these martyrs as their own, the COAS has given a beautiful and much needed message of unity and solidarity with the civil armed forces, and at the same time, communicating to the enemy (internal and external) that they are on the same page, united in the war against terrorism. One can safely assume that with this all-encompassing message by the Chief, the armed forces have assumed a big-brotherly role which duly warns the miscreants (especially internal) against any shenanigans, even though the police is highly politicized in the country.
Addressing the public directly, the Chief asked them to be patient, reminding them that wars are not fought overnight, particularly when the enemy is an insidious one. When wars are imposed, one does not dither but fights them and should be prepared for sacrifices. This was a reiteration of the fact that it is “our war”.
The Army Chief’s addressing the youth is a mark of their importance in society, and he alluded to their role in Nation building. The message showed that the armed forces encourage them to become responsible citizens and fulfill that role. The reference to the tribal children studying in army schools give a message of love for the people of FATA and to remind the people of the fact that the armed forces is their well-wisher and is concerned for their rehabilitation.
The most important part of the COAS’ speech is about the external challenges of regional peace and stability, which he directly and rightly linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute by calling it the “jugular vein”, once again repeating the same notion given by the founding father of the nation, Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The message is given on the occasion when the elections under the occupying forces are rejected in Indian occupied Kashmir by the Kashmiris and they sent a clear message to the people of Pakistan, to which the COAS replied aptly.
The Chief not only linked it to regional peace but also warned those external elements who were sending messages of covert or overt operations within Pakistan. This is taken as the most thought-through and unambiguous message for all those elements which are keen to take advantage of the internal issues of Pakistan, especially when the pull out of the allied forces from the western side is on the move. The COAS assured not only the Kashmiris but also Pakistan about the policy of Pakistan’s prime institution.
The maturity in responsibility that Kiyani left behind as a legacy, Raheel Sharif is more than preserving it. He is extending its borders to new limits of even more responsibility – without allowing any “media twisters” and/or “stunts” causing rifts between the Armed Forces and the Civil Government. The past days have been buried, with glorious sacrifices remembered and lessons well learned from history; a new, brighter future awaits Pakistan as a whole with Allah’s will.
The policy narrative that can be drawn from the COAS’ speech is both rational as well as aggressive in nature. No compromise on the sovereignty of Pakistan, its constitution and the rule of law, similarly, no compromise on Pakistan’s vital interests such as Kashmir and regional peace, delivering a befitting message for both internal and external enemies, from the platform of an institutionresponsible for the security, defense and stability of the nation and its national interests.