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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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Cricketer turned politician Imran Khans fears of revolt in the Pakistan Army are not unfounded. Indeed many in the Pakistan Army are increasingly viewing the war against terror as Americas war which Pakistan is forced to fight. There is also a growing feeling that America is lording over Pakistan and treating it as a client state.

Pakistan Army is a disciplined force and its soldiers have a long history of acting in accordance with the orders of senior army commanders. Various coups, insurgencies and national emergencies have not rocked the cohesion and discipline in the army. Now because of a variety of factors, loyalty and discipline of the army is being severely tested and fears of a mutiny in officers rank are mounting.

In Pakistan, till now, says Prof Anatol Lieven, (Pakistan - A Hard country), there has not been a military coup from below. Every coup has been carried out by serving army chiefs, backed by a solid majority of senior officers. Officers and soldiers of the army are keenly aware of the fact that it is the unity and discipline in the army that has held the country together. Along with discipline and loyalty, fear of India is drummed into the mind of every Pakistani soldier from the day he joins the army. Thus, apart from the unforeseen consequences of a mutiny in the army, the fear that it will provide an opportunity to India to crush Pakistan, appears credible and is widely believed by every Pakistani soldier.

Pakistan armys history shows that in the past commanding officers were westernized and secular in their outlook. Stephen Cohen in his book Pakistans Army has identified three generations of army officers. The first was British generation when the Pakistan army was set up. They came mostly from loyal westernized families and did not hold strong religious views. After the Second World War, when the Great Britain was not in a position to provide the type of aid which young Pakistan army needed, Pakistan turned to the USA and this spawned American generation of officers who were secular in attitude and unIslamic in outlook. But the tide turned after Pakistans humiliating defeat in Bangladesh war. And the American generation was replaced by Zia generation. General Zia wanted to build up a religious and puritanical army and with that end in view allowed religious groups like Tabligh-i-Jamat to hold classes and give discourses in the army units. Zia himself attended convocation of the group the first Army Chief to do so.

The new generations of officers hailing from middle classes are generally hostile to Western ideas and receptive to Islamic teachings. In a sense, younger officers reflect the larger society and are becoming more Islamic and anti-West. Many of them are imbued with anti-western, and particularly anti-American, sentiments. Shuza Nawaz, a well-known expert on Pakistan Army, speaks of the emergence of a different breed of officers children of the lower middle class, akin to General Zias own background, who chose the service because of its economic and social advantages rather than military traditions.

Now American raid in Abottabad and killing of Osama Bin Laden has caused within the army a deep sense of anger and humiliation. In a way it was a projection of American power and a clear message to Pakistan to align itself with America or face the consequences. Drone attacks on militants within Pakistan have also been causing acute sense of unease in the army ranks. It is said that using anti-American anger, without getting burned by it, has become a fine art with Pakistan. What is worrying the military leadership now is the sense of anger within the army, accompanied by a feeling of humiliation. Unilateral nature of some of the US decisions and actions has added fuel to the fire.

There is also a growing criticism of Pakistan Army Chief General Asaf Kayani within the country and in the army barracks. His close ties of Obama administration have not gone down well with the army. Overwhelming opinion in the army is that Americans pose a danger to Pakistans national security and it is the time that military leadership draws a red line. Terrorist attack on PNS, Meheran, a naval airbase in Karachi, has further exposed the army and ISI to public criticism for sheer incompetence. Deflection of public criticisms by blaming India or America is no longer working. Along with anti-American anger, there is also sympathy for Al-Qaeda. It is not precisely known how far the anti-American officers are wedded to radical Islam or if antiAmericanism reflects outright sympathy for the Talibans inside the army.

Situation in Pakistan is difficult and grim. It is rocked by ethnic clashes, jihadi terrorism and general lawlessness. It has become a dysfunctional state its economy is in a mess and the legal system has broken down. Its politicians are derided as clowns. Army, though supreme, with its badly tarnished image is sunk in the gloom. Further, Pakistan army is no longer as loyal and professional as before. A number of army personnel are members of Jamat-Islam. Some military and intelligence officers have been involved in assassination attempts against Musharraf. There is desertion and surrender of soldiers before the militants and there is a growing feeling among sections of the Pakistan army that they are fighting against their own countrymen at the behest of the USA.

A division among officers on ideological lines is thus neither unlikely nor impossible. Such a division would hasten the fragmentation of the army.

The split is likely to stem from differences among the officers with secular or Islamic leanings. A strong army has so far held together Pakistan, but if the army gets divided on fundamental issues like identity and purpose of Pakistan, or relations with major outside powers like the USA, and disaffected officers join the radicals to gain access to Pakistans rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal, it will indeed be a nightmare scenario.

The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

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