by Ahsan Waheed
Recently, General Headquarters – Pakistan’s army Headquarters (GHQ) – took note of a case before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament in which military officers posted to the National Logistics Cell (NLC) had taken decisions that led to huge losses. GHQ has ordered a high level inquiry to investigate. This decision puts the matter on the right track towards resolution after all the facts have been considered and this decision also takes the matter out of the media spotlight that could have turned into a circus. This is a decision that other institutions could emulate in their own interest and that of the country.
This decision-taken quietly without preamble or fanfare-is one of several that have been assisted in the recent past by GHQ. Each one has helped the country steer clear of mishaps. There was the question of the restoration of an illegally ousted judiciary. This had been politicized and was heading towards an ugly showdown. Just at the right time a quiet word defused the situation and the judiciary was restored in response to the public demand. Then there was the question of Pakistan’s ‘no first use’ policy and here again a timely clarification settled the issue. For decades NATO faced with a vastly superior Warsaw followed a similar policy to deter the threat. Yet again there was the question of placing the Inter Services Intelligence Agency under a Federal Ministry and of sending the ISI Chief to India in response to the Indian demand post 26/11. In both cases a correct decision was taken – strategic intelligence is not a single Ministry’s concern, and investigations are best conducted under an agreed joint investigation agreement that still does not exist. The fine print in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill would never have been read and re-read if concerns had not been voiced to highlight them. After the US-India Civil Nuclear Technology Agreement, there was unanimity in the view that this agreement had dealt a mortal blow to non-proliferation (NPT) and that it had turned the Nuclear Suppliers Group Guidelines (NSG) on their head giving India 8 unsafeguarded reactors and access to technology and nuclear fuel. After this there was no way Pakistan was going to agree to a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) and another decision was taken.
There will be situations that will demand more deliberate and considered decisions. The US pressure to prematurely push into North Waziristan is one such situation. The US threat of expanded Drone strikes in areas other than the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is another possible situation. The orchestrated unrest in Baluchistan and the engineered killings in Karachi could also be situations requiring decisions in the national interest. And the declining economic situation may warrant a bold decision at the right time. The nation can be confident that there will be no civil-military or any other institutional confrontation that jeopardizes decision making in the best interests of the country. This bothers those who want instability and encourages those who want sustainable democracy and stability.