Media is picking up selective lines from my book 'yeh khamoshi kahaN tak?' This is creating a very wrong perception. I hope to correct it tonight at ARY News at 8 pm.
The title of my book 'yeh khamoshi kahaN tak?' does not imply that there are secrets being revealed; though truth does expose hidden facts. This, ironically, has been the sole focus of the electronic media up to now. And this is natural; but I do hope we will soon settle down and come to the bigger issues. The silence referred to is of those who know everything and yet choose to remain silent. This is not such a time. The silence also refers to the silence of those who have no option but to suffer quietly, like lambs. The building anger and spite in their hearts will one day blow up in our faces. And that day doesn't seem very far. Speak up today before it is too late. Speak up if you can feel their pain. This is the message of the book.
Till we believe in the facade that is being presented to us and continue to pretend that all is well, nothing will change. I see very hard times lying ahead. If this nation sinks, so will its armed forces. So will all who are now silent. And our children will bear the cost.
This book is not about Kargil, and not about the military takeover. Certainly the focus is not General Musharraf or even the Army. It is a book about human experience of life; the story of a weak man stumbling through his life; pushed by his fears and dragged by his desires; torn apart by love, transcending with time. It is a book for the youth of this nation, to learn from the mistakes I have made, to see how life twists and moulds each one of us. In this endeavour I have laid my life bare, and exposed myself to all forms of criticism. I did not expect any less. And this is the least price I must pay for the suffering that some of my mistakes have caused to this nation.
However, these were in a certain environment and in a particular time frame. In retrospect, things are seen differently; we are all wiser. If some of us feel that I did not speak when I should have, my colleagues should be able to answer to that; for I could only speak in defined forums and not in public. And speak, I did. I have never shied away from speaking the truth. And who else is speaking; even now? It is this silence of my colleagues to which I refer. I have spent a lifetime in the Army, and I have not been an unknown entity. The entire Army knows me; what I have done and what I have not done. I have always been an open book.
I have resigned twice from the Army, once as a major and once as a lieutenant colonel. Then I was penniless and homeless, with four young children. I could have resigned as a general too, when I was comfortably well off and my children were settled in life. Why I didn't -- please read the book to find out. And as I speak today, my entire family is once again dependent on me, with only some rentals to live on.
My colleagues who are still in uniform can only vouch for me within their circles, but those who are now retired can speak whatever they know of me. Each one knows the truth of what I have said. Do not choose the comfort of silence. I have risked everything I have, only for this nation and this Army. Even my grandchildren are under threat. What more do you ask? I do this out of love for your children; for the children of Pakistan, who are dying with each day, as we sit in front of our televisions and as we lament at dinner parties.
I have no agendas. I am member of no group. I have no political ambitions. I am a soldier of this country and this Army, and it is for these that I fight. My father (Brig Mike, whose glimpse you can see in the archive in 'Remembering Mike') taught me to stand on my own feet, and not on crutches; and he taught me to stand up for the truth. My life will pay homage to him, and to my younger brother who laid his life for this Army and this nation in Kashmir in 1971; and to all those soldiers who are still sacrificing their days and nights in defence of this country; and those who laid their lives smilingly, so that we can continue to laugh.
Army is the best institution in the country; it is the backbone of Pakistan. Yes, there are faults in it. And it is only to these that I refer. I have seen these grow during the military regime. Every military regime has left its scars on the Army. It is to these that I refer. Army is my love. It is in my blood. I was born in it, and I will in sha Allah die a soldier. I can never betray it. If my silence could improve things, I would have chosen to remain silent. But I see things deteriorating by the day. And there seems no other way to control it, but to make it public. I fought all my life to protect the Army, protect it at great risk to my career. I do not imply that the Army is a corrupt organization. But yes, there are pockets and it is to these that I refer. If we do not check it now, it will become irreparable.
I do not speak to damage the Army or its discipline. The Army operates under the orders of the government. It was the political leader, in uniform, who slowly induced the Army to become party to US massacre in Afghanistan. It is now the baby of this political government. The Army must submit to political decisions; and its officers to its chain of command. And the Army's leadership must advise the government not to place his troops under such severe moral strain. It might damage the Army critically. That is what I am trying to prevent. I am hearing their silent, disciplined pangs of obedience. They must remain steadfast. Such times do not last forever. Stay together, for you are holding the security of this country in your togetherness. And do not be disrespectful to your superiors, for being respectful is the pride of every soldier. Always salute smartly, and look into the eyes of your superior when you salute him; and also when you are saluted by the soldier -- look into his eyes and you will know his pride or pain. If you do not learn to obey, you shall never be able to command. The decision of the commander has to be obeyed. It is only an immoral decision which is unlawful. The commander knows and appreciates what you may not know. Trust in him and be as one. Take pride in your loyalty. Have patience and fortitude and trust in Allah. He will deliver us.
Why now? This is Allah's will; as is everything else. I spoke when I was liberated by the law of silence. I wrote in 2009, two years after leaving government service. I spoke on the TV. The focus, however, remained on personalities rather than issues. I too, then, chose silence; but the pain of sufferings I saw each day and the political tamasha going on, was overpowering. So I decided to write a book. It took this much time. And isn't it the best time? Our problems on the line of control are peripheral; only being blown up as part of a larger game. And when is it that we are not in some kind of a problem? I have not seen such a day in many years.
This is a good time because another meaningless election is around the corner. A new set of lies is afloat. A new government will be formed, and then we shall all settle down to another period of injustice, tyranny and plunder. What better time than this to wake up to truth? Truth never causes damage; only untruth causes pain and sorrow; and destruction.
If India is exploiting whatever I am saying, should that fear keep me silent? They will always exploit everything. But covering up and pretending that we are great, will not make us great. Standing up to truth can only put our house in order. And are we to shrivel up, only so that we can please the onlookers?! If the world is saying, "Look Pakistan is such an irresponsible state, how can we allow them to remain a nuclear power", well, they are not too far from the mark. And they are not stupid that they needed to wait for my declaration to come to this conclusion. It is written all across our forehead. Aren't we already labelled as a 'state sponsoring terrorism'?
If Nawaz Sharif says his Army Chief betrayed him, than he should have had the spine to sack him there and then and court-martial him. And he should have resigned too, for failure to control his Army. That is leadership. Whenever he came to know, if he did not agree, he should have raised his hands and said, "No more. Stop now and pull back". The peace process would not have been derailed. My soldiers would not have died in vain. That should be the calibre of the leadership of a nuclear power. Not one that is bending backwards to please the world and keep the Army Chief happy. Or the one that tries to shift responsibility and blame; and show himself as the innocent helpless babe. If you are the one sitting on Pakistan's throne, then you are responsible for every pain that this nation suffers. And if you can't take the burden, then step aside. It takes guts to rule a nuclear power and it takes brains; and patience, and grace, and wisdom and above all it takes faith. Yes, our government, even today is incapable to stand up to the stature of a nuclear power. We have been left with little self respect, why should the world respect us? We need to mature, as a nation, to that stature; and we have very little time.
I implore you to speak up to save this nation and its armed forces. I do not ask you to speak in my favour. Your views may be very different. I will respect them, if you respect this nation, its honour, its security and my children -- the children of Pakistan. The pressures on me and all these insinuations are merely to force me to shut up. Genuine concerns are also, at best, parochial. See the larger picture. Please realize the intent and motives of those who do not want things to change from what they are today; those who do not want to come out of this decaying, putrid stagnation.
May Allah be with all of us and may he continue to protect and guide us -- from darkness unto light.
p.s. Please make comments only after reading my book. And no, it will not make me a millionaire.