Editorial: What the generals must apologise for
Daily Times, February 1, 2008
The group of retired Pakistani generals and military officers who have asked General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf to resign as president of Pakistan have now reportedly decided to “apologise” to the nation “for imposing martial laws in the past, abrogating the Constitution several times, and not letting democracy flourish in the last 60 years”. The first “apology” session was to have taken place Thursday to which the retired brass had invited President Musharraf himself.
There is a newspaper report that the “letter” to President Musharraf by the retired generals was mishandled because the group, led by General (Retd) Faiz Ali Chishti, could not organise its composition properly and had allowed names to be named without first getting permission from those named. However, the first speaker is said to be General (Retd) Abdul Majid Malik, “who was a major in 1956 when he drafted a resignation which General Ayub Khan forced President Iskandar Mirza to sign”. He will presumably also apologise for siding with General Musharraf when he took over the government of the country in 1999 and split his party, the PML.
He will be followed by General (Retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, a former army chief, “whose political ambitions had forced the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan to nominate Gen Asif Nawaz as the new Army chief three months prior to Gen Beg’s retirement”. The newspaper report says: “His role in the famous Mehran Bank scandal and misuse of ISI funds for electoral/political manipulation is still fresh in public memory”. The report adds: “His then DG ISI, General (Retd) Asad Durrani, who had distributed Rs 140 million to win over the “for-sale” politicians never felt ashamed of his role or offered an apology”.
One has to add that the retired generals have more to answer for than what has been designated in the announcement. Most of them will get a free ride condemning what they have not done directly and will succeed in targeting President Musharraf as a political gimmick unless they also do some more navel-gazing and confess to professional and moral crimes which they committed when they were in service, including acquisition of properties and mismanagement of military operations.
General (Retd) Aslam Beg will have to also apologise for bringing the Supreme Court in contempt when he admitted that he had influenced the chief justice. When confronted with challenging a general, the Supreme Court under Justice Zullah forgivably got cold feet and let Gen Beg go scot free. (We saw what happened to the Supreme Court in November 2007 when it tried to stand up to a general.) General Beg must also apologise for warning the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto off a large area of internal and external policy in 1988. He has also got to apologise to the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for violating an agreed foreign policy decision to send Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, and for trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran without consulting Mr Sharif.
We must insist that General (Retd) Musharraf apologise for the Kargil Operation which was more an example of professional incompetence than defiance of the Nawaz Sharif government whom he accuses of having agreed to the operation. He must apologise for undermining the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when Mr Sharif was prime minister. But at the same time we must insist that General (Retd) Hameed Gul should apologise for planning the disastrous Jalalabad operation in 1989 as a prelude to the ISI setting up a government of the mujahideen. He has been boasting of having organised the IJI against the PPP. He must apologise first to the PPP for having done the sordid deed; after that, he must apologise for lack of wits because the IJI could not maintain its two-thirds majority for long.
General (Retd) Faiz Ali Chishti, who heads the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society, which last week issued a blunt open letter signed by more than 100 senior officers, calling on President Musharraf to quit, has to apologise, not only for being a willing and core partner in the military coup of General Zia-ul Haq in 1977 but of the thoughtless things he has since been saying on TV. By the same token, many senior officers have to confess to having less brains than needed for commanding an army. It is only after confessing to all the personality and intellectual defects of the generals that the Ex-Servicemen Society will be seen as justified in trying to get President Musharraf to step down. General (Retd) Chishti not long ago came on TV to explain why the army did not educate the nation. His answer was: if the roof is leaking why put good furniture in the room?
The biggest crime to which many retired generals must confess, and then apologise for, is the policy of seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan because the consequences of this policy are now threatening to actually spell the end of Pakistan itself. In fact, some of these retired generals are too tainted for mouthing principles that the civil society of Pakistan has decided to uphold. They should keep zip up unless they are ready to give up what they have enjoyed over the years and are still enjoying at the cost of the nation. *
Also See:Retired generals refuse to apologise,but want Musharraf to go - The News