General Raheel Sharif assumed command of Pakistan Army at a critical juncture. The country was gripped by terrorism, fear, despondency and appeasement. The majority of populace had lost hope in the future of the country. The economy was in shambles. The flight of capital and a visible trend of migration abroad by business community was on the rise due to insecurity leading to shaky investor confidence. Extortion and abductions by elements of TTP had reached major urban centers like Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad. A foreign sponsored narrative that Pakistan is a failed state was gaining currency. Alarmed by the situation, a few foreign think tanks propagated that Pakistan nukes were likely to fall in the hands of terrorists. Thus terrorism was becoming a hydra-headed monster. The general perception prevailed among the intelligentsia that any operation in South or North Waziristan, the hub of terrorism would lead to a blow back and devastation in the entire country. The extraordinary situation demanded extraordinary measures.

Thus to fill the gap, General Raheel Sharif emerged as an extraordinary man, a true leader, who united the nation for a forceful action against the terrorists and anti-state elements. An in discriminatory operation against terrorists of all hue and nationality was undertaken in the shape of Zarb-e-Azb. He not only led his own men from the front but also restored the confidence of all law enforcement agencies by providing them strength through capacity building to establish the writ of the government in lawless/turbulent areas of the country. He stabilised democracy by taking the elected government out of a fluid security situation. He took the bull of terrorism by the horns. Anti-state forces were neutralised through Zarb-e-Azab. The largest ever influx of internally displaced persons in FATA was managed peacefully and willingly during military operation due to his reassurance. After restoration of peace almost 65 percent of these IDPs stand rehabilitated today with better prospects in their homeland due to his personal effort. The process for rehabilitation of remaining 35 percent is in the pipeline and would be completed by mid 2017.

The majority of facilitators, abettors, and financers of terrorist outfits have been either killed or apprehended through intelligence based operations and combing operations in the length and breadth of the country. Daesh has been permanently uprooted before it could establish its footprints in Pakistan. A sharp decline almost 85 percent in acts of sabotage and terrorism has been witnessed. The image of the Pak-Army as an exemplary fighting outfit is acclaimed worldwide. He convinced his counterparts in US state department and stopped drone attacks in the country. He took difficult decisions in difficult times. He established military courts and brought hard core terrorists to the gallows, when civil courts were hesitant to penalise them for fear of their own safety and lack of evidence as witnesses never relied/trusted the civil judicial system. It was during his tenure as army Chief that militant RAW nexus was exposed and busted after the arrest of Kalbhoshan Yadev, The situation in Balochistan was alarming. The general public feared for life to hoist national flag due to threats by Baloch nationalists. He undertook positive steps in Balochistan by mainstreaming militants through talks and at times strong arm tactics. A new concept of border controls and management has been put in place by employing additional FC Wings along Torkham and Chaman border to check illegal crossings.

Thanks to General Raheel Sharif the city of Karachi is humming with activity and the traditional social life is back to normal. The dreaded image of Altaf Hussain has been cut to size, who is virtually now a non-entity and damned forever. General Raheel established himself as an impartial leader by penalising high ranking military officials on charges of corruption. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “for every scoundrel there is a hero, for every crooked politician there is a dedicated leader”. A hard core soldier to the hilt, he was there and everywhere the nation needed him. Thus, a hopeless situation in the country was brought to a hopeful situation.

Guarantees vis a vis security given to Chinese government proved catalyst for making C- Pak a reality. Thus, an economic boom after the nuclear capability is in the making. Internationally the image of the country has improved after restoration of secure and stable environments. On the international front, he pulled the country from defensive mode to offensive mode. Instead of international community asking us to do more he proved his sincerity of effort by taking practical steps and then asked the international community that Pak has done its bit and now its your turn to do more. Today Countries like US, Russia and European Union view Pak Army with greater respect for turning the tide against terrorism in the region.

The overall restoration of peace and stability in the country has paved the way for economic prosperity. He gained popularity for being a messiah. He crushed the thugs and terrorists and reached every affected place to empathise with the innocent victims of terrorism. Every Pakistani owns him as ‘My Chief’. A man of integrity, courage and character. He will be remembered in history as a true savior of the motherland. A role model for his officers and men, who was loved by the good and feared by the bad. A leader who was envied by politicians, revered, trusted and loved by the common man, a symbol of hope for the weak due to his courage and determination and an emblem of trust for the international community for being a man of word and commitment. The youth of Pakistan love him as a super hero. He won name and fame as a deliverer and an out class military leader whose actions spoke louder than words. An excellent combination of a soldier and a gentleman, who followed three CEEs as the cardinal principal in life. Character, Courage and Confidence. He shall be remembered in history as the right man, born at the right place, at the right time, for the right job. In short he is a proud son of the soil. His elder brother, Major Shabir Sharif Nishan-e-Haider sacrificed his life while gallantly defending the country, while General Raheel Sharif lived for his country to defend his people with audacity for greater national glory. Thus, the commitment and patriotism is in his blood. It was by dint of personal example that he taught his countrymen that if it comes to choose between freedom and subjugation, always prefer to fight on your feet than to live on your knees. Now that he is hanging his boots on 29 Nov, he shall be remembered in history for having enjoyed a larger than life image as an Army Chief. The legacy he leaves behind shall serve as a source of inspiration and guiding principle for those who will follow. Pakistan Army is a symbol of national pride and shall continue to produce such valiant heroes as the journey goes on.

 

The writer is associated with the Pakistan military.