Lt.Gen (R) Tariq’s Farewell Note

This is to all my very dear friends and even to those who chose not to be too friendly. I have been posting my views for the last three years and that’s all what they were, my views. I thank you all for participating in the discussions that these views caused and I am grateful for your opinions. I apologise to those who I may have inadvertently offended; that was never my intent.

My posts were never an attempt to display a perceived superior intellect, since I am well aware that being an ‘officer’ of the ‘armed forces’, intellect could never have been my forte! My posts were about an experience that I was exposed to and I always welcomed and invited others to share such experiences with the different backgrounds they had observed and lived through. It always enriches the discussion and educates one another. However, some were offended as they confused experience with intellect and questioned my posts as if I was implying that intellect was only the domain of three star or two star generals. No, intellect always belongs to whoever has any and I have often been pleasantly impressed by many of my subordinates who displayed a sophisticated sense of intellect. It is why I am dedicating my book, ‘Fata Chronicles’, to the Young Officers who I had the pleasure to command and without whom success in the troubled regions would never have been attained. So this was not an intellectual examination as much as sharing of experiences which some confused as an exercise in measuring intellect.

There are others, who accuse me of pessimism; far from it. Those who know me would know I am anything but a pessimist and have been a part of turning a difficult situation around to comfortable one against bad odds. Something that was done on ground and not in the comfort of a sofa chair in a drawing room. Nevertheless, these posts were not about me. They were about our Country, the State we live in. My posts were usually driven by the concern I suffered, that was so affected by the happenings around us. Yet I admit, that I may have missed the good things that others always so easily recognised and so frequently experienced. I missed all those wonderful developments and progress as we progressed from one day to another, that many of my fellow citizens so easily identified, assimilated and found so comforting as they jubilantly marched on into a better future. Put it down to ‘limited intellect’ but it is what I missed, a consequence of my own limitations.

Yet others accused me of stating the obvious but not giving any solutions to the problems that I had highlighted. I beg forgiveness for not having come up to their expectations, but I would like to draw their attention to the many reforms I had recommended and the many suggestions I had made which remain on record. Of course the insignificance of what I may have proffered would have paled before the sophisticated wisdom of my critics and they may have overlooked those suggestions for innocuous noises, too small to impress and too farfetched to be relevant. They usually related to honesty, impartiality, justice and merit, a rarity in Pakistan’s ruling classes and so easily overlooked by many.

My concern pertained to lack of governance and was not meant to focus on any political party, though the ruling party would obviously remain the source of any criticism just because they were ruling. This did not absolve other parties but being apolitical, which political party was ruling, never really bothered me. I was convinced as I am now, that all these parties are a consequence of a failed system and are no different from the other. That the label of democracy and the rallying cry of ideology are two such matters that were exploited by the unscrupulous and unprincipled respectively. Slogans remain without substance, as our society is whipped into a frenzy of support, for the charlatans and swindlers who make false promises and fraudulent assurances. We now have the recent case of a Provincial Chief Minister elected to his chair with 544 votes. Our sense of justice is so callous that the Model Town killings are an illustration of how to turn the victims into the accused. We have a government, where parents forgive their child’s killers as the State forfeits its responsibility at the altar of divine laws. Where corruption rules the roost and where mosques are filled up five times a day but no child is safe on the streets. Where religion is pursued at the cost of the Almighty who is forgotten in the dust and confusion of intolerance. Where sins and crimes cannot be differentiated and human sacrifice for the State is belittled as it is politicised to accrue mileage.

In this chaotic confusion, the labyrinth of contradictions and hypocrisy every Pakistani looks outside and feels he can fare better in any other country than his own, I hope my critics will forgive me for the concern I show. I seek no office, no recognition, I am too old to hope for anything in my own life time; my concern is more for my grandchildren and their generation and for what we collectively leave for them to either suffer or appreciate. After all, death is a definite event that cannot be avoided but being remembered is an outcome of how one chose to live.

Nevertheless, though I am convinced and committed to what I believe in I am equally sure that there may be many other ways to look at things and I shall never grudge a person holding a different view as long as it is to promote the wellbeing of our people and the State. Yet it is also my belief that there is nothing in this system that we now call democracy, that there is nothing of substance in the governments that we have had or are likely to have. I am convinced that elections under the present system is a nonstarter and that it will only drag us down further even when we have reached rock bottom. How can I expect anything good to emanate from the very arrangement that has brought us down to our knees? The World Bank has finally begun to show concern, the region and the world sees us with suspicion while our PM played at being the FM or was the FM playing at being the PM? We shall never know as we are slowly consumed by the games that these people play. Incompetent leaders, so lacking in every capacity, dishonourable and shameful people, can never be our saviours and we are wrong to have any such expectations. I am usually accused of being anti-democratic and that I am always arguing for martial law but this so far from the truth that I am amazed that I have to explain myself over and over again. By not accepting this flawed system, this farce and fraud, this exploitation of the State and the people for personal pelf and privilege, cannot be equated with being anti-democratic. In fact it is my love for freedom and liberty, self-determination and individual autonomy that I continue to criticise what we have for a government. That, in fact, by singing praises in defence of this aberration of a democracy, is parallel to hooting in the wind like a jackal.

Maybe it’s only I who cannot see the good in this system that others do and maybe I am pessimistic and cynical about what we have; maybe this is democracy at its best and it is only from here that this nation will rise; maybe I am wrong in what I preach and in the sermons I deliver. But then, when I seek clarification, I only get accusations against the ‘establishment’, sometimes the Army, at other times the intelligence agencies. Everyone appears to know something a little bit more than I and my experience does not account for anything anymore. It seems either I am lying or that I am ignorant. I agree that the Army has been involved in so much in the past that one could write a volume on it but one ought to remember, there is a context and an obtaining environment that has to be understood and assimilated. Matters are never discussed in isolation. It’s not about winning an argument under any circumstances but seeking the best for one’s nation.

Now, that we have drawn inferences from history that suit each of us in our own ways, let us move ahead and examine the present and current situation. It is this that needs to be corrected, we cannot change history. History is being unfolded before us and we can make a difference if we try, rather than relive yesterday, wailing over what happened and what did not. In this vein, today, when I see the misery that envelopes us, the shadows that surround us, when I complain about irreversible damage, it’s about everything, Zainab or Mashal, Modi or Trump, the World Bank or IMF; there is no relief in sight.

Expecting a change by doing nothing is a false expectation.

I, thus beg the Supreme Court to search for the relevant constitutional clauses to help bring about the change we need, this cannot go on. You, Sirs, have the constitutional power, the capacity and the authority; all you need to find within yourselves is the will and your sense for doing the right thing. History has very rarely put anyone in such a situation where the future of a nation of 200 million people lies in anyone’s hands but it does in yours.

Like me, you too have lived most of your lives, like me you too have a limited time at your disposal; will you even now not do what is expected of you?

- How can imposters such as these be permitted to govern a country and make a laughing stock of us before the whole world????
- Where an unqualified and disgraced PM is a de-facto PM and the sitting PM is a ceremonial one.
- Where leaders justify their theft and thievery on the basis of technicalities,
- where the guilty walk away only because they managed to circumvent the laws they made for themselves,
- where our champions use the constitution as if it was made for their protection alone and that it does not apply to anyone else,
- when our government itself works against the State,
- when our ministers let down their own institutions;

It is time, my Lords, it is time, that you do the right things, which are:
 Judicial Reforms.
 De-politicisation of the Police.
 Establishing institutional autonomy.
 Merit orientation.
 Relevant amendments to the Constitution.
 Separating religion from politics.
 Enhancing the current provinces to about 28 or 30 or as many as we need.

With this farewell note, I depart from FaceBook and other social media events, I depart from television and interviews.

Firstly, I do not think that my appeal, emotional or logical, however you may see it will affect anyone or anything and why should it? After all, why should my concern be of any consequence when it is probably lacking in intellect and so based on pessimism? I probably alarm many, though I know there will be many stalwarts amongst us who shall remain unfazed; but then nothing would faze them anyway; not this government, neither this administration and certainly not what they refer to as democracy.

Secondly, I bid farewell because having been offered a position and I am no longer able to broadcast my views and opinions. My suggestions and recommendations could easily be misconstrued to be those of the office I will hold.

Thus I bid farewell to all,
- may you all see better times,
- may our nation rise above petty arguments,
- may we have leaders who lead by example and not sermons,
- may our children learn to live life without malice or prejudice,
- may our society become tolerant and learn to mind its own business instead of everyone else’s,
- may we also learn to live for our religion than only die for it,
- may we celebrate in who we are rather than invent who we wish to be.

Farewell all.

Lt.Gen (R) Tariq Khan

Posted on Jan 24, 18 | 5:44 am