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Who Sets Agenda for Pak Army?

Hafiz Saeed addresses a rally in Lahore (File)

The wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the chief of notorious Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)  sets the agenda for new Pak chief General Qamar Bajwa…writes Syed Abdul Rahman

Hafiz Saeed addresses a rally in Lahore (File)

Every time a new general takes over as the chief of Pakistan, terrorist leader Hafiz Saeed, a protégé of Pakistan Army, makes it a point to make a loud and boisterous call for Kashmir Jihad. This has been his trademark way of setting the agenda for Pakistan Army chief.

Not that the Pakistan Army needs a prodding from one of its proxies to know what to do. But Saeed makes sure, by raising the bogey of Kashmir, he remains relevant to the new bosses in Rawalpindi and that his business of jihad continues as ever.

It is too early to say that how the new chief of army staff, General Qamar Bajwa, would deal with the army’s traditional allies like Saeed, leader of anti-India terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). But Saeed is letting it known that he is very much available for hire.

Saeed was obviously very close to Bajwa’s predecessor, Raheel Sharif, who kept terrorist leaders like him and Azhar Masood, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, good humoured and safe from all the anti-terrorist operations he boasted of launching and winning.

Photo released by Pakistan’s Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) shows Pakistan’s new army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa (L) receives the change of command baton from the outgoing Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif (R) during the change of command ceremony in Rawalpindi, Pakistan (File)

The problem with the Pakistan Army has been that it has always been purblind, in strategic terms, when it came to dealing with India. The traditional thinking, honed over decades of hatred and failures, has been that India was the enemy, and the only enemy Pakistan has, and they must throw everything they have, including the terrorists like Saeed, at India. But any sensible person would realise that this policy has been a humongous, cumulative failure for the army and the country which it vows to safeguard. This strategic blind spot, no doubt bolstered by the history of following the path, howsoever disastrous it might have been, is no mean measure sustained by terrorist groups like LeT which have a stake in the status quo.

If the new chief were to even reflect a moment, he would realise that the terrorist groups are the army’s proxy but they are not really friends of the country they profess to represent. In fact, if Pakistan has any enemy today, it is within. It is these groups like LeT and JeM and their leaders like Saeed who keep the populace misled, brainwashed and violent.

At a rally in Muzaffarabad recently, Saeed ranted on everything, from surgical strikes to the Indian Prime Minister and his country’s national security advisor Sartaz Aziz and then capped it with saying that jihad was the only solution to his country’s peace and progress. Saeed was flanked by Syed Salahuddin, another terrorist and Fazlur Rahman Khalil, an old hand at terrorist acts.

Now Saeed is not the sort of mascot which Pakistan needs today. General Bajwa would know it better. Not that his predecessors did not; but they were blinded by hatred and self-interest. They all knew Saeed and his ilk were a liability for any country which seeks an honourable place in the world. No one in Pakistan wants a country which is looked at with deep suspicion all over the world and its citizens under surveillance for being terrorist suspects. Rarely does anyone read or hear good news about Pakistan. Whenever the country’s leaders travel to western capitals, they are compelled to hear from world leaders how they must rein in terrorists like Hafiz Saeed.

So why should terrorists like Saeed be allowed to besmirch the country’s name? Only because they seemingly have some utility in hurting India? But as it is clear, it is Pakistan which has faced the brunt of their `harm India` policy than India. People like Saeed have led Pakistan and Pakistanis up the road of destruction. Saeed and his ilk are the real enemies of a country in progress and not an external neighbour which is, and has always been, keen on building a viable and friendly relationship with Pakistan.

Pakistan and its leaders, including the new Army chief, must do well recognise this simple but hard reality—persons like Hafiz Saeed are the real enemies of the people of Pakistan and they must be treated as such.