Zarb-e-Azb is the biggest challenge faced by the Armed Forced of Pakistan under the able leadership of General Raheel Sharif the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). The focus this time is to cleanse the motherland of all terror activities. The Khakis are looking inwards this time not outwards as usual to please their arms suppliers in the West. National interests have taken precedence over other benefits; the Khakis have clearly shown that they are no longer hired guns.

Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan the first Prime Minister (PM) had a vision of Pakistan that was progressive, democratic and non-aligned while Ayub Khan the first Desi Commander-in-Chief (CnC) desired to rapidly arm his ill-equipped army. The PM resisted external pressure and refused to sign international treaties, it was the Desi CnC who turned the Armed Forces of the first Islamic democracy into hired guns. Liaquat Ali was assassinated in 1951 while Ayub Khan consolidated his grip over power. There was some resistance like the Pindi conspiracy case in which senior army officers were punished which also included intellectuals like Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Ayub Khan had a very mediocre career and should have never made it to the top. He was super seeded by the father of the nation himself and there were nine senior officers above him yet he was able to move up the ladder against merit. He managed to equip his force with modern Western weapons but ignored the fact that there are no free lunches. By signing treaties like SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) and CENTO (Central Treaty Organisation) Pakistan lost its non-aligned status and also its membership of Non-Aligned movement (NAM) National interests were compromised. US bases like Badaber were established at the cost of agonising the USSR.

In 1962 during the Sino-Indian Conflict Pakistan had the perfect opportunity to liberate Kashmir but he chickened out and went on a vacation to Hunza during that period. One phone call from Washington DC was enough to dislodge him from his control room at GHQ. On the promise of economic growth he derailed democracy internally and externally he allowed the use of Khakis as hired guns. As the opposition was neutralised we the young comrades of the first generation of the country came on the streets. There were pitched battles but we were able to topple the usurper.

General Yahya Khan, the second dictator, had a better military career as compared to Ayub Khan. He accepted the democratic demand of one-man one-vote and held the first free and fair elections in 1970. Hoping for a split mandate the General thought he could prolong his rule but democracy prevailed. Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman in Eastern (160/162) and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) in Western wing (81/138) won big. When power was not transferred and guns were used to suppress democracy against the advice of the commanders on ground (General Sahibzada Yakub Ali Khan and Admiral S. M. Ahsan) civil war started.

ZAB came into power of what was left of Quaid’s Pakistan. He pulled the country out of international treaties (SEATO, CENTO) and re-gained the status of being a non-aligned nation. His Awami Hakumat brought the Awam into the corridors of power. The unanimous 1973 constitution and the Nuclear Programme were the highest of his government. He remained on track till 1975 when the status quo politicians managed to surround him. The dismissal of NAP-JUI elected governments in KPK and Baluchistan followed by military action and Hyderabad Tribunal brought the Khakis back into the main stream of power.

July 05, 1977 will always remain a black day in the history of Pakistan when Zia-ul-Haq took control of the country. In return for power he sold his country and its armed forces by indulging into dirty international games. Till today, the nation continues to suffer from this misadventure.

Musharraf the fourth Khakis usurper was no different. One phone call from Washington DC was enough to indulge in another un-ending debacle and complete u-turn with total compromise on national interests. His NRO was another debacle that brought back the political plunderers. Despite the sellout he could not retain his presidency and had to resign in disgrace and faces legal action under Article 6 of the Constitution. Now he has to fake illness to save his skin, which is shameful for a General.

Rules of the game have now changed. Raheel Sharif (born 1956) and Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani (born 1952) represent the first born free generation of Pakistan, compared to Zia-ul-Haq (born (1924) and Pervez Musharraf (born 1943) their approach is different. Both Kiyani and Raheel have succeeded in restoring the lost respect of the Khakis. They are now looking inwards and not jumping on phone calls from Western capitals. Zarb-e-Azb has been ably led by the son of the soil, born in Quetta and raised in Lahore. His family has finest military credentials. Two highest awards for gallantry have been earned by his kin for ultimate sacrifice of life (Major Shabbir Sharif, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti).

Today the, Khakis are ‘Hired Guns’ no more as the ‘Hired Siasis’ of the ‘Hired guns’ of the past have no future. Political firing squads await them. Zarb-e-Azb should now move towards an honest and fool proof ballot to bring back credible political leadership, the way it was before Ayub Khan’s hired guns took over and we were derailed as a nation. It is back to the drawing board and nation building. No more personal or external agendas. It is correction and retribution time; it is a test of the first born free generation of Pakistan in which failure is not an option. We are destined to deliver Quaid’s Pakistan to our coming generations.