The Pakistani government and #Military have stated that India’s surgical strikes did not take place. Despite the denial, a high-level meeting took place between the military and civil government. During the meeting, the government voiced concerns about #pakistan’s increasing isolation amidst international demand to target terrorists. The military officials indicated that the government is free to arrest anyone. To this, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif replied that the government and police do arrest terrorists but the military works behind the scene to free them.
Dawn and Cyril Almeida
The journalist who reported this was #Cyril Almeida of Dawn. One of Pakistan’s most respected journalists, Almeida has written extensively about the army, amusingly calling them 'the boys'. He is brave enough to overlook the dangers associated with criticising the army, but also eloquent enough to display a fair and balance account. However to some, Almeida’s work is blasphemous. The military is seen as the back-bone of Pakistan.
Apart from states that have military dictators in power, no other country, especially a nuclear-armed democratic power, has a military as powerful as Pakistan’s. There is a saying one comes across whilst studying Pakistani politics; every country in the world has an army, only the Pakistani army has a country. Through Pakistan's history the army has acted with impunity. Any criticism and one is called a traitor for daring to ask questions from glorified public servants.
‘Good terrorists, bad terrorists’
It is without a doubt that the Pakistani military harbours terrorists, lovingly referring to the ones who target Afghanistan and India as ‘good terrorists’, whilst the ones who have brought Pakistan to its knees are ‘bad terrorists’. Hilary Clinton famously once said that Pakistan cannot keep snakes in its backyards and expect them only to bite its neighbours. Therefore, the meeting between the civil government and the military is much appreciated with the military giving the go-ahead to start targeting terrorists within Pakistan’s borders. However, the military weren’t relying on Dawn publishing an article about it.
Weakness of the civil government
Some civil officials gave accounts of the meeting to Dawn and Almeida to show themselves in a positive light internationally and locally; that the democratically elected government is standing up to the military and ordering them to stop protecting the ‘good’ terrorists. However, the military doesn’t broadcast news unless it makes them look good. Pakistan’s officials, whether civil or military, have very big egos that need to be tended to.
Between the power struggle Almeida found himself in hot water. The government officials who leaked the story tried to shift the blame to Almeida, putting him on an exit control list. How is placing a journalist, who citied official sources, on a no exit list fair? The Nawaz Sharif government looks weaker than ever done before, firstly by leaking the story to appear more powerful than the military, then by bowing under military pressure to name the source and banning a journalist. How can reporting on a government and army meeting be punishable? And what a severe punishment at that! How dare Almeida fly to Dubai for a family holiday, whilst the government has to present itself to the army?
Job advert: Pakistani military needs a marketing general
The Pakistani army has a Twitter general. General Director of the Inter-Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa took charge of the press conference at the surgical strike’s target spot. Bajwa did something that the Pakistani army has never done before. Journalists were allowed to investigate the scene and form their own conclusions. Could it really have been the beginning of something new? No. What the army really needs is a marketing general, someone who understands that Almeida's article on the meeting actually received praise.