The fundamental task of all militaries is to destroy. This is part of their training and is based on the premise that they have to face external enemies to defend the country. Thus, they are given a binary choice: Friend or Foe (FF). One has to be courted, the other has to be destroyed.
From this follows another basic fact. If militaries get involved in other affairs, such as politics, they see all politicians as foes since they try to wrest control from the military’s vise-like grip. This is amply demonstrated in multiple locales around the world, especially the Muslim world.
Some militaries go in search of enemies or even create them where none exist. The US military is a prime example. Since the end of the Second World War, it has attacked a number of countries without provocation. Its belligerence went ballistic after the events of 911.
This was part of the script prepared by the American neocons, the vast majority of whom are hardcore zionists. Even while it faced humiliating defeat in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, that has not deterred the Washington warmongers from opening new theatres of aggression.
The same applies to the zionist occupation army in Palestine. It continues to perpetrate horrific crimes against the Palestinians. The basic purpose is to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous inhabitants to make room for illegal squatters from North America and Europe. It is guilty of egregious war crimes.
The militaries of two Muslim countries—Egypt and Pakistan—have pursued a remarkably similar path in their conduct with the same disastrous consequences. The Egyptian military grabbed power in 1952 in what was pompously called a ‘revolution’. It has not relinquished control ever since, barring the brief interlude of Mohamed Morsi’s rule from June 30, 2012-July 3, 2013. The Egyptian generals’ itchy fingers could not tolerate in power an elected civilian president for more than a year.
In Pakistan, the military started to manipulate the political scene from behind the curtain soon after the country came into existence. It grabbed power directly in October 1958. The military coup was led by General Ayub Khan, an incompetent military officer but master of political intrigue.
Unfortunately, the judiciary became the handmaiden for Ayub’s coup in what was termed the “doctrine of necessity”. The Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Muhammad Munir became the architect of this disastrous doctrine. Successive dictators have used this so-called doctrine to grab power.
Some people will argue that Pakistani politicians are corrupt and incompetent. This is undoubtedly true but the solution is not for the military to grab power. Had the political process, however flawed, been allowed to continue, it would eventually have found its balance and created a semblance of normalcy.
The military’s repeated storming of the corridors of power in Pakistan has badly skewed the political process. Lacking popular support, politicians vie for the military’s favour to get into power. When not in power, they conspire with the military to overthrow those in power.
Let us look at the similarities between the Egyptian and Pakistani militaries. Rhetoric is one of their favourite tools to fool the masses. “We will crush any enemy that casts an evil glance toward the country” is an oft-repeated refrain. The reality, however, is very different.
In Egypt’s case, zionist Israel was projected as the principal enemy because of its illegal occupation of Palestine. After four wars—1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973—the Egyptian military was sufficiently chastened to abandon the war option altogether resulting in its surrender to the zionists.
The June1967 war was a complete disaster. Egypt lost its entire air force in the first 20 minutes of the war. It also lost the entire Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. True, others fared equally badly. Jordan lost the West Bank (both Gaza and the West Bank are Palestinian territories) and Syria lost the Golan Heights.
Pakistan’s experience vis-à-vis India has been equally disastrous. In the wars against India in 1948, 1965 and 1971, the Pakistani military did not perform its primary task of defending the country. Not an inch of territory has been liberated from the clutches of India in Kashmir, notwithstanding the loud rhetoric. Despite tall claims of victory, the September 1965 war was at best a stalemate. It need not have been had Ayub Khan not shown cowardice.
The 1971 war was totally unnecessary and turned out to be an absolute disaster. Instead of respecting the wishes of the people who had voted for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League, another thuggish general, Yahya Khan decided to “teach the Bengalis a lesson” for voting for a party the army did not like. Instead, Yahya Khan was given a bloody nose by the invading Indian army as 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered in a humiliating spectacle at Dhaka Race Course grounds.
Unfortunately, even a disaster of such astronomical proportions did not chasten the generals sufficiently to stop meddling in politics. They were back at their favourite game when another generalissimo, this time the moustached Zia ul-Haq grabbed power and the same tired routine continued. He was followed later by General Pervez Musharraf.
The fact that no general has been held to account for such illegal acts has emboldened them to continue their troublesome meddling in politics. Today, the situation is no different. While unable to fight India despite their loud rhetoric, the generals continue to disrupt the political process and install their puppets in power.
The Pakistani generals have also taken a leaf from the playbook of their Egyptian counterparts. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has embarked on several grandiose projects like building a new capital city at a cool price of $55 billion or widening the Suez Canal that cost $10 billion. No benefit has accrued to the Egyptian economy. Instead, the generals’ bellies have grown bigger.
The same approach is now visible in Pakistan where the military has embarked on a process of handing over the country’s sea ports, airports and other assets to foreign governments and/or entities. This, it is alleged, will pump some money into Pakistan’s bankrupt economy. Even if any money comes in, it will be stolen by the generals and their hangers-on who have become professional thieves instead of soldiers.