Challenges to The Chief

By Zafar Sultan.

The newly appointed army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa has formally taken charge of the armed forces of Pakistan. Given the current situation of the country and global scenario, the general has to start straight away. Presently Pakistan is facing plethora of problems, both at internal and external fronts, and the chief has to challenge them all.

While there is little doubt that operation Zarb e Azab has attained significant success, but still the menace of terrorism is far from over. These achievements need to be sustained which can be done by chasing the challengers of the state to their sanctuaries. During operation, many of them fled to Afghanistan, while countless mixed again with the common public. Even numerous, sought refuge in their patron and promoters: politico religious parties. There is a dire need to thoroughly investigate the coalition partners of the government if there are some or many challengers of the state who have hibernated in their ranks. This sounds a little challenging, but it has to be done.

Next, it is imperative to complete registration of all religious seminaries; all madrassas ought to be registered (not closed) under National Action Plan. It is necessary to maintain a record of all students, teachers and source of funding to these seminaries. The government is reluctant to carry out this registration to avoid the ire of its coalition partners. Nevertheless, it will have to swallow this bitter pill for the larger good of country. All students should be brought to the main stream so that they can play a productive role to build Pakistan, and not fall a prey to obscurests.

Also, the national census which has been delayed many times, ought to be conducted on urgent basis. There is a pressing need to maintain a record of the indigenous population, foreigners and immigrants in Pakistan. There is a need to figure out the exact number of refugees in Pakistan. Our brother country Afghanistan has gained considerable stability and can easily welcome its national back from Pakistan. Though this move would be resisted by some religious and ethnic political parties because their sizeable vote bank and business relations would be affected. But the government will have to nip this pill tool.

Moreover, our western border needs to be secured further. To this end, number of FC personnel has to be increased and ditch defence executed. The ditch based defence, less costly to enact, would be effective for the economy of the personnel. In fact the FC has successfully implemented it in Chamman and Zhob.

Sadly, operation in Karachi appears to have died down after initial furore; it seems to have become selective to hunt and catch specific targets only. Karachi requires cleansing at a massive scale. The miscreants should be tired in the military courts instead of handing over to the police.

Too, Punjab needs to be purged of malefactors. All enemies of the state, pushed by Zarb e Azab and Karachi operation have accumulated in Punjab. Similarly there are ethnic organisations which need to be cleared off. Procrastination in operation in Punjab is fuelling provincialism, so the chief would have to expedite efforts to launch across the board operation there.

Recently, the line of control has experienced relentless Indian shelling, adding woes to the dwellers of LOC. The recent Indian shelling on a passenger bus in Neelum has made the situation even precarious. There is a prompt need to train and arm the people residing near LOC so that they can defend any possible Indian onslaught. The students and teachers should be trained for self-defence and first aid training. Wretchedly; there are no or less properly equipped health centres near LOC. Besides, the link roads are dilapidated. Sadly, the recent children wounded at Karen sector lost battle because they couldn’t be ferried to Charhoi, because of road. Even at Charhoi Civil Hospital, medicines and trained staff is insufficient to treat such victims in future.

The chief would have to walk an extra mile to address the issue connected with LOC. The army deployed there should be ordered to respond befittingly to silence those enemy posts which target the civilians. Despondently, in a protest where tens of thousands of people protested and opened the Neelum Road, asked Pak Army to bomb  them if their guns and artillery are  helpless against the Indians. It is imperative to restore confidence of the locals in our armed forces.

Undoubtedly, the challenges are daunting but keeping in view the past professional career, and legacy of Raheel Sharif, it is hoped that General Bajwa would talk bold and swift steps to steer Pakistan to success. Good luck general.

The writer is an academics and can be reached at

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