He said that our armed forces are second to none in fighting the militants, they had proven far better than many western armies fighting the IS and other militant factions without much success throughout the Middle East. The command of army is in professional hands now, there is line of senior officers capable of taking command from the present COAS to carry on their legacy to future generation.
Fall of Dhaka
Commissioned before the 1965 war Lt Gen (Retd) Ali Kuli Khan said his father, Lt Gen Habibullah Khan, motivated him to fight well for his regiment and for his country.
“Blaming the military alone for the fall of East Pakistan is not correct, I do not want to start a blame game but the war in East Pakistan was lost even before it began,” he said. “The Army did make a lot of mistakes but unfortunately the military debacle overshadowed the political catastrophe building over years.”
“In a BBC interview Indian COAS Gen Sam Manekshaw praised the Pakistan Army, he said he had an overwhelming superior strength of 16:1 and the Pakistan Army was fighting under adverse conditions,” Gen Ali Kuli elaborated.
“Our leaders have been robbing Pakistan and rampant corruption has damaged us beyond repair,” he said. “People inside uniform or outside uniform are now chasing those who robbed Pakistan. There was no governance in Karachi, the army has brought some stability.”
He complained that while shouting “well done Army” nobody comes forward to report wrongdoers to the LEAs.
In Pakistan, he added, we have no religious or sectarian discrimination, we are all Pakistanis and we would not like to fight wars in Yemen, etc on sectarian grounds.
‘Army of today’
He said: The Army of today is different from the past because all personnel in armed forces are battle hardened and battle-hardness matters. This battle experience has made the army far better than during his time.
“We are fortunate to have a professional COAS who is doing very well in combating terrorism,” the retired general lauded. “Raheel was given a task and he is accomplishing it well.”
He said there are many others like Raheel Sharif who are ready to take over when he retires with honor.
He said he had seen Kargil as a major, Lt Col, COS and a Corps Commander but all those who were involved in Kargil at the military hierarchy level did not prove worthy of their positions.
Product of hard training
Mr. Shuja Nawaz, author of “Crossed Swords”, a well-researched history of the Pakistan Army, praised the Army of today. He said instead relying on theoretical text books, real-life experience is being written by battle-hardened instructors.
“The facets of war have now changed from conventional warfare to asymmetric warfare, this is reality to the hilt. The armed forces and people are together again as they were during 1965 war which is a positive sign, they can now fight the enemy in a perfect unison inside and outside Pakistan,” he said.
From an army projected to fight wars on the frontlines this role was later redefined to fight internal wars. As Commandant PMA, Gen Raheel Sharif started training of “quick reaction forces” to deal with militants and terrorists. The present COAS today is a product of hard training and reflection of past experience, he added.
“The instructors and students now have Swat and FATA battle experience and are capable of handling complex internal security problem.”
“In Swat I saw the missing element, the close coordination with civil society and the armed forces needed to rebuild destroyed battle zones,” Nawaz said. “The shift from conservative thinking in armed forces is a positive sign. The armed forces must not stay longer than necessary in civil affairs, after doing its incisive operations they must hand over charge to civilians. The operation in Karachi was launched as consequence, success in Karachi is now a case-study success story.”
Ikram Sehgal said I know Gen Ali Kuli Khan since last 51 years, he is a straight forward soldier. On a lighter note he said Major Shabbir Sharif Shaheed, Nishan-i-Haider, elder brother of the present Army
Chief and Gen Ali Kuli were the two outstanding cadets in 29th PMA and fought boxing against each other in PMA.
Sehgal said that the military and Rangers have done an exceedingly good job in Karachi, after 2008 there is a tremendous change in army’s achievements.
No army has got success against militants in the world with all their vast resources like Pakistani armed forces, he added.
“This momentum must carry on into future. The realization has come but it will take some time to be fully effective. We are no more supporting the culture of proxy wars,” he said. “People are now speaking out their grievances against the Government and Politicians.”
He said it was important that if the army is to succeed they must be sensitive to their credibility and for that the army must carry out self-accountability and rationalize some perquisites at the higher level.
Dr. Jabbar Khattak, President CPNE, said that the Pakistan Army is has been playing a positive role in Pakistan in addition to their duties on border, this has impacted our country’s history both inside and outside Pakistan.