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Personally for me and most patriotic Pakistanis, the army stands as the bulwark of a nation’s sovereignty, defending its people and safeguarding its borders against external threats.

It embodies the collective strength and resilience of a nation, serving as a symbol of unity and national pride. It embodies a profound appreciation for the soldiers’ selflessness and bravery in the face of adversity.

Equally significant is the reciprocal relationship between the army and its people, where mutual respect and affection foster a bond essential for the nation’s stability and progress. As the guardians of national security, the army’s love for its people and their reciprocal love form the bedrock upon which the prosperity and well-being of the nation rest.

As children, we were taught by our parents and teachers to hold the army in high esteem, instilling in us a deep sense of love, respect, and pride for our valiant armed forces.

I fondly recall the days when we eagerly gathered to witness the army parade at Ayub Stadium in Quetta, enthusiastically saluting the passing army vehicles and feeling a sense of honor as the soldiers returned our salutes. Those moments filled our hearts with admiration for what we believed, and still believe, to be the best military force in the world.

However, while soul-searching about why political leaders, certain segments of the general public, elements in Balochistan and KP provinces, and social media activists criticize and denigrate the army and its leadership, one glaring fact became apparent: the army is not being criticized for its core function of defending the country from external aggression, but rather for issues unrelated to its primary mandate.

The army has faced criticism for its alleged interference in political affairs, purported human rights abuses in conflict regions like Balochistan and FATA, media censorship, and its economic dominance across sectors, raising concerns about monopolies and lack of accountability.

It is perceived to prioritize security interests over diplomatic solutions, handling Balochistan insurgency and imbalance of power favoring the military over civilian institutions. The criticism directed towards the army has unfairly intensified, becoming more aggressive and vitriolic, particularly on social media platforms.

Social media activists, both within the country and abroad, seem to have free rein to express their so-called grievances against the army without fear of repercussions.

During a recent press conference, the Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (DG-ISPR) extensively addressed the harmful use of social media to spread negativity against the army.

He warned that existing regulations would be rigorously enforced, and new laws would be proposed by the parliament to curb, silence, and penalize those who were spreading malicious content against the army.

Qamar Bashir

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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