How The Army Has Won The Support Of Most Pakistanis

23/09/2015 8:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - SEPTEMBER 18: Pakistani soldiers cordon off the area outside an air force base attacked by Taliban militants at Badaber on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on September 18, 2015. Pakistani Taliban militants on Friday attacked an air force base camp compound and killed 16 worshippers performing morning prayers while an army captain was killed in the fighting with the insurgents. (Photo by Bilal Khan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Last Friday was not an ordinary day. It would have been "ordinary" had it been before the start of the Pakistani military operation Zarb-e-Azb last year. In the early hours of the morning, militants attacked the Pakistan Air Force base on the outskirts of Peshawar. They left 29 people dead including an army captain. Later in the day, military spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa confirmed on Twitter that 13 terrorists had been killed. Later on, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif flew to Peshawar to meet the injured and attend the funeral of the martyrs. Like before, responsibility for this attack was taken by the Taliban, according to their spokesperson Muhammad Khorasani. "We proudly claim responsibility for the attack on Pakistani air base. This base is being used by fighter jets for bombing us."

There was a time when two to three terrorist attacks took place on a weekly basis in Pakistan. Headlines of newspapers and breaking news on television channels kept reporting deaths of people. Every citizen had become used to them. Earlier the deaths of even a dozen citizens wouldn't seem a lot. But now things are different. It has been over a year since the military started taking down terrorists in the country's North Waziristan region. At least 3000 militants have been killed since the launch of the offensive. There has been a decrease in militant attacks nationwide and now a single killing seems like one too many. Yes, we are getting back to normal and going back to the time when we also valued human life. However, post Friday's attack, our Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that the personnel of the armed forces quickly responded to the attack of militants on PAF base camp and averted a "big loss".

Supporting democracy or dictatorship is not the question here, but the armed forces of Pakistan have undoubtedly received the support of a huge number of Pakistanis in just a year. The rule is simple: citizens will always love a leader who works for the betterment of the country and its people.

Whether it was last year's army school massacre or last Friday's attack on the PAF base, people have expressed their solidarity with the armed forces. After all they have delivered for us, including during the Karachi heat wave when they set up emergency treatment centres, and during the floods in the northern part of the country when they performed rescue operations. No one will welcome dictatorship in Pakistan for the fourth time, but there is no harm in supporting the army for all that they are doing like never before.

No wonder the people of Karachi are okay with portraits of COAS hanging on the poles of street lights around the city. Maybe this is why Independence Day and Defence Day were celebrated with so much patriotism this year. No wonder salesmen at local clothing shops are doing such brisk business in "green and white" clothes. Every day, the front pages of newspapers in Pakistan carry at least one news item related to the armed forces. And then just this month, Pakistani newspaper Dawn's magazine, 'The Herald,' carried the picture of General Raheel on its cover page. How about the Twitter account of the army spokesperson which has 1.35 million followers? If this is ordinary for you, then what isn't? Those days are long gone when the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) would worry about anybody criticising or defaming the armed forces of Pakistan.

With regard to the Friday attack, an army spokesperson said that a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group had planned, executed and operated the attack on Pakistan Air Force base in Peshawar from Afghanistan. This year, a 70% decline has been seen in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Hate them or love them, the armed forces of Pakistan are playing a major role in making Pakistan terrorism-free which has been the wish of every Pakistani ever since conditions in the country started deteriorating years ago.

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