General Raheel Sharif, the 15th chief of Army Staff, has earned a reputation as a courageous, patriotic and professional commander since assuming the command of Pakistan Army in November 2013. The security situation in Pakistan was rather chaotic and volatile when he took over command of the most powerful institution of the country. At thee time many violent non-state Actors, namely the TTP and its various splinter groups, were posing an existential threat to Pakistan. Regrettably, despite being in the a state of war, there didn’t exist the required degree of resolution and commitment on the part of both military and civilian leadership in the country to fight this war at that time.

Pakistan army did not conduct any significant military operation since the conclusion of Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan agency in December 2009. Resultantly, various militant groups got the opportunity to reorganize and reunited in the tribal areas. General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the then COAS, owing to his dilly-dally approach to this issue, somehow failed to launch an all-out military offensive against the miscreants in these areas. The PML-N couldn’t evolve any comprehensive counter-terror strategy after forming the government following its victory in the 2013 General Elections. It did nothing beyond holding APC’s and initiating an open-ended dialogue process to bring peace in the country. PTI, the second largest political party, has also been obsessed with the idea of dialogue to tackle the issue of terrorism ignoring altogether the actual realities on the ground. Similarly, the so-called religious political parties were also covertly supporting the agenda of these militants in some way. Besides all this, a section of the media and the intelligentsia has constantly been complicating and confusing this issue in our country.

In this uncertain and confusing state of affairs, Pakistan Army, under the command of General Raheel Sharif, courageously and sagaciously decided to inflict a decisive onslaught on the miscreants by launching Operation Zarb-e-Azab last year. This military operation has virtually broken the backbone of the terrorists in the country by destroying their hideouts and dismantling their command and control structure. So far, almost all the area of North Waziristan has been successfully cleared of these militants. This integrated and well-executed military operation will certainly go a long way in completely curbing the menace of terrorism in Pakistan for good. The role of Pakistan Army in the entire relief and rehabilitation process for the IDP’s of North Waziristan is also commendable. During this military operation, General Raheel Sharif was also frequently seen among the IDP’s to express solidarity with them.

Terming it an ‘attack on nation’s heart’, General Raheel Sharif took the unfortunate APS Peshawar terrorist attack quite seriously and sensitively. He was right there in Peshawar as soon as this tragic incident took place last year. He was also present in the APS Peshawar when the school was reopened after an extended winter break to boost the morale of school children, and to give a strong message to all the miscreants. After this incident, Pakistan Army intensified its intelligence-based surgical operations to eliminate militancy across the country. It also built considerable pressure on Afghan government to counter all anti-Pakistan elements on the very soil of Afghanistan. It also played a pivotal role in formulating the National Action Plan to effectively curb terrorism and extremism in Pakistan. Trying a terrorist in the court of law is purely a responsibility of the civilian government but Pakistan Army has also readily assumed this task by setting up the military trial courts in the country. All these daring actions of the army necessarily reflect the strong determination and commitment of its commander.

Now, for the first time in the history of our country, we can observe an army chief openly speaking against the alleged foul play of the Indian intelligence agencies, the RAW, in Pakistan. The higher military and civilian authorities in Pakistan have conveyed a strong message to India to call off its disruptive activities in Pakistan through its hostile intelligence apparatus. Now, after the recent Safoora bus attack in Karachi, Pakistan has decided to formally evolve a strategy to counter RAW’s current maneuvering in the country by employing the effective tools of counter-intelligence and aggressive diplomacy.

Presently, the Pakistan army is also standing shoulder to shoulder with the law-enforcing agencies in Karachi to rid the city of undesirable criminal elements. For this purpose, Pakistan Rangers has proactively launched a clean-up operation in the city. All the criminals are being dealt with an iron hand irrespective of their political affiliations. The LEA’s have also conducted full-fledged raids on the headquarters of a political party that has been a no-go area for these agencies for a long time. The overall law and order situation in the city has significantly been improved since the launch of this operation. The military leadership looks quite determined to continue this operation till the complete elimination of target killers and extortionists in the city.

The planned China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being generally referred to as the game changer in this region. In view of its utility and importance, Pakistan Army is also taking keen interest in the successful and early completion of this megaproject in Pakistan. It has already decided to form a special division to provide security to the Chinese in Pakistan. These arrangements will certainly help in addressing all the security-related issue vis-à-vis this megaproject in Pakistan.

General Raheel Sharif has also played a positive and constructive role in ending the political impasse in the country following the PTI-PAT sit-in in Islamabad last year. He constantly maintained his neutrality and impartiality in this prolonged political crisis. All the speculations about the ‘third empire’ were proved wrong at the end of the day. We have observed that the military commanders had been quite disinclined in resisting their temptation to make their entry into the corridors of power in the event of such political crisis in the country. Therefore, by exercising maximum restraint in the political crisis, he has considerably strengthen the fragile democratic institutions in the country.

At present, the geo-strategic imperatives and the general state of the economy of Pakistan necessarily demand a harmonious civil-military relations in our country. So far, the pro-active, but positive, attitude exhibited by the General Raheel Sharif has been instrumental in improving the security situation in Pakistan and stabilizing its economy. In Pakistan, various military commanders have been running the affairs of the state as well as this institution in a personalized and arbitrary manner which has brought a bad name to this institution. Characterized by the professionalism, patriotism and pragmatism, there is another so-called General Raheel Sharif model in Pakistan. Now, this model should be idealized and followed by the succeeding commanders of the army in the lager interest of the country as well as their own institution.

The writer is a lawyer and columnist based in Lahore.

mohsinraza.malik@ymail.com

@MohsinRazaMalik