Lt. Gen. Tariq Khan’s (Retired) Rebuttal

My 37 years of association with the Army has been taken by a few as an automatic disqualification in giving any political opinion and, at the same time, my opinions are taken as the voice of the establishment.

My service in the Army somehow limits my citizenship rights to either put up or shut up. Fortunately, these critics are a few and far apart. Some may not have understood me others may have a fixed position and are not willing to hear anything else. I did not want to clarify my position because I felt having given it, was enough; nor did I want to defend myself since this was not about me but about my country. Yet listening to the half-baked arguments that came out, I thought it was necessary to enumerate the gist of what was said/posted only so that my suggestions are not mistaken for frivolous and casual remarks they are being made out to be:

  1. My views are being confused with a military solution which I took pains in explaining that they were not. Critics took the opportunity of first situating the argument that I was recommending martial law and then arguing why I was wrong. A hypothetical argument was presented that since I was hoping that the courts would take action and since the courts have no clout as such the Army would be called in. A self-defeating argument where it is being suggested that unless the Army supports the courts, the courts are meaningless in this democracy. And then they cry hoarse in support of this democracy. Which court has an Army to support it as it hold PMs and Presidents responsible the world over. I strongly suggest that one should take out the time and read article 184 and 190 amongst many others before giving out a limited perspective.
  2. They fiercely contest the idea of a technocrat government on the basis of precedence. They obviously cannot weigh the matter for its merit, having been deprived of merit for so long. They are strongly advised to study what’s happening in Greece and Italy today and what happened in China yesterday. Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea are good examples that show how nations are built and our kind of democracy is not one those models; in fact it is our kind of democracy that has no precedence in making a country an economic power anywhere in the world.
  3. Being critics is one thing but then contributing to a useful argument means getting to the substance not discussing superficial and peripheral matters around the topic? What have Ayub, Zia and Musharaf to do with what I am suggesting? None of them were technocrat governments and were established military governments. They failed in the end because of having no exit strategy and then in search of an honourable exit, became ‘politicised’. They let in the same politicians that they set out to remove. If the Supreme Court gave Musharaf 3 years what has that got to do with my argument? It is this very matter that I am trying to address. We do not need new faces but a new system so elections will not deliver at the moment under this system if its change we are in search of.
  4. I too am advocating democracy but a truer form and that too by reforming the judiciary, depoliticising the police etc, why would one want to continue with this system unless he is a beneficiary of it? Why is one objecting to accountability across the board and cleaning the slate and then having free and fair elections under a more balanced system. What is wrong with that?
  5. The only argument one comes up with is that it never happened before, it cannot happen, it is impossible, it is not realistic etc. etc. So are we doomed to this and are all of us to be subjected to this democracy? Is this what the few want for all of us; are we satisfied with what we have, a finance minister who cannot sign his own cheques and is an absconder, the Chairman of the National Bank who was previously the manager of an Old Home in London, a corrupt SECP, a dysfunctional FBR, a manipulated EC, an influenced NAB – is this what democracy means where a disqualified person can summon a cabinet to London and appear in court with pomp and panoply as if he is a king?
  6. If the process can bring in an improvement I am all for it but how can that system put right what it corrupted itself? How can any political party bring any change or make the hard decisions needed; do they have the moral capacity and the political will to do so? This is not about PMLn, it’s about all parties. Zardari was probably our worst example, a president who the people had the lowest expectation from and he lived up to it. So this becomes another rhetorical argument that our critics come up with; that this is PTI language etc; the same can be said about them, that they are PMLn representatives. It has no bearing on the discussion and is just another irrelevant squeal that is hooted into the wind when one has no argument and chooses to attack the messenger. To reduce the discussion to personal attacks.
  7. If this system has to be changed and needs to be corrected then we need a technocrat government that can apply themselves without political affiliations or political considerations, who can work only in the national interest and their only consideration is the welfare of the people. Is this wrong?
  8. Now if people feel that there is no need for this change, we are democratic enough and that this is how the country should run, well I respect their opinion, they are entitled to it and am only thankful that they remain a pitiful few. I for one am convinced we have reached the end of the rope and do not have the economic or political depth to survive another onslaught by the stalwarts who have so far robbed and stolen from this hapless nation. We need a democracy but not this one.

So this is a clarification to inform my critics that I too want democracy but it’s just that I am not willing to accept this low standard being passed of as democracy. At this moment, the maulvis have blocked Islamabad, demanding Qadri be announced a Shaheed, Asia Bibi to be hung and the minister of Law be handed over to them, all this while our dysfunctional Interior Ministry is paralysed into inaction!!!!

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