14 November, 2006
By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
From all counts Dargai attack was in retaliation to Bajaur killings. Sad as it was, yet it is a matter of immense satisfaction that by and large the people of Pakistan have not approved of it. The NWFP assembly, who was most vocal on Bajaur killings and had reasons to be so, not only condemned it but also offered Fateha for the dead recruits. Electronic media has aired very sympathetic live interviews of the relations of some of the dead military recruits using words like Shaheed and Shahadat for them. Letters and articles appearing in the print media have also not only condemned it but shown great concern for the dare and ability of the extremists to take on the military in their own garrisons. This all shows that though the people at large are ostensibly not in favour of the military rule, yet they are not against the army itself. They still hold it in some affection and consider it to be their own army. This is a big positive attitude and such feelings should be nurtured to blossom further.
Dargai attack is a very serious matter and whether it was an act of some individual extremist of his own accord or of an organization, whether instigated by RAW and/or KHAD or even CIA, MI-5/6, NATO etc. (to sabotage Pakistan's signing the 'deal' with the tribesmen), it all tantamounts to an open declaration of hostilities against the military by the extremists. This must be nipped in the bud but not necessarily by force. Actions generate reactions that could be misconstrued. Therefore, the need to understand them rationally. The unfortunate attack will inevitably compel the armed forces to adopt still more strict security measures, thereby putting up more barriers around their installations, more security checks at public utility places and of the private and public transport, more traffic control for VIP and VVIP movement etc. This all is bound to cause further inconvenience to the public and add more to the acrimony already held by them against the forces Hence, the need for the people to understand it and put up with it patiently.
The hate-military syndrome mostly led by the religious extremists must be countered by the army as well as all well-wishers of Pakistan. While the military has to show more of compassion to win over the extremists than to crush them by force, the media and the intellectuals have yet a greater role to play in this regard. They have to counter the subtle but highly dangerous scheme of the enemy psy-warfare experts engaged in driving the wedge deeper and deeper between the civil and the military of Pakistan. President Musharraf has used so many times the synonym of ‘leaves of the tree of terrorism’ for the suicidal bombers and has advanced the strategy of going for the roots and trunk of the tree instead. Military should, therefore, reach the roots and trunk through the respected and sane elders of the tribesmen and open the doors of negotiations with them and pursue the matter patiently and compassionately with them appealing to their sense of patriotism and the well being of the misled miscreants. Army might have to go an extra mile to prove its sincerity, service, loyalty and respect for them. Once the tribesmen develop the sense belonging to the army and the army belonging to them, they will never cause any harm to it or let anyone else cast an evil eye towards it. After all, no one ever damages its own property.
An army without the support of the people cannot achieve much. And the people need the army to defend them during war as well as peace. In it lies the survival of both. Both must, therefore, do every thing possible to save the country, the nation and themselves.
It is never too late to make mends for one’s mistakes.