Retired Generals Vs. the Rest

Politicians ridicule ex-servicemen’s presentation
Say peace, dialogue with international powers needed, not Jihad; association denies sidelining air force, navy members
The News, February 09, 2009
By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association (Pesa) members on Saturday raised questions about how last week’s seminar on Defence of Pakistan gave the impression that the event was meant to promote the views of three retired generals — Aslam Baig, Hameed Gul and Asad Durrani.

With eloquent speeches at the seminar, the trio made its presence felt but many noticed the conspicuous absence of former servicemen from the PAF and the Pakistan Navy. The presentations made by the former spy chiefs — Hameed Gul and Asad Durrani — reportedly irked some of the retired servicemen and politicians.

Sources revealed the Pesa, at a meeting held on Saturday, decided that the three services would be equally represented at public fora to avoid heartburn. The move is apparently aimed at removing the impression that the Army dominates even the ex-servicemen association, just like it calls the shots in the armed forces.

At the seminar, former chief justices Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi, Wajeehuddin, Roedad Khan and others were not given enough coverage, as the three ex-generals dominated the scene. Also eclipsed was the presence of Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan and former naval chief Fasih Bukhari, source said, adding everyone felt it was a show of the trio’s intellectual prowess.

The Pesa session, held at the residence of Brig Mahmood, reviewed the deliberations at the seminar, where politicians assailed the presentation given by Gul on behalf of the ex-servicemen. The politicians openly laughed at the recommendations of the association, saying the ex-servicemen were still living in the 80s, and had no idea of the present-day threats and the challenges facing Pakistan. Required in the present situation, they stressed, was peace and dialogue with international powers, not Jihad, as they were propagating.

Sources said the objective behind Saturday’s meeting was to review things on which they differed with politicians — greatly disappointed by the views of the retired generals. People like Khwaja Asif rejected their ideas about national security as “outdated, flawed and obsolete”.

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