Friday, April 13, 2012

The Pakistan Army - Beyond Borders


The recent catastrophe that befell on 135 odd soldiers plus the civilians accompanying the soldiers on 7th April is an awakening as to how far the Pakistan Army goes in defending even an inch of our country. But there have been numerous instances where the Pakistan Army has been called for help by other states, mostly Muslim but there have been even non-Muslim nations that have had worked closely with the Pakistan Army over the years.

Today we sit to look at all those points in the history when the Pakistan Army has thought beyond borders, cultures differences and even kept aside history and ventured out of Pakistan to save its brothers and sisters.

Pakistan Army has been brought up in a culture where they view India as their direct foe but there have been some indirect ones as well that the Armed Forces have never sidelined as non-existential threats, countries like Israel and if we are prudent then, United Kingdom and United States, though with the latter Pakistan shares an uncomfortably close relationship for reasons known only to the elites in the Armed Forces and politicians. The events when Pakistan Armed Forces rendered help to other foreign countries are:

1.   In 1967, Pakistan Army under the leadership of Zia-ul Haq was stationed in different Arab countries, mostly Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. The Arabs were aided by volunteers of Pakistan Air Force during the war and they succeeded in bringing down ten Israeli jets, including Mirages and Vautours without any loss of their own. It was a remarkable achievement for Pakistani pilots as they did all this while using Egyptians, Jordanian and Iraqi aircrafts.

2.   In 1973, 16 PAF pilots, again, volunteered against Israel to assist Egypt and Syria in what is now called as Yom Kippur War. Though Egypt had signed on a ceasefire treaty with Israel which still stands to date but Pakistani pilots went to Syria which was still in a state of war with Israel. The PAF pilots became instructors for the Syrian Air Force and the Syrian government later felicitated PAF pilot Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi for his services during the war.

3.   In 1980s, the super-power of the world United States of America went to seek assistance of Pakistan Army in ousting the invading forces of the Soviet Union. Pakistan Army, though admittedly received financial assistance from USA, as well as its intelligence agencies provided support and training to the local Afghani forces that would pick up weapons against their enemies - the Soviet Union. A note to remember, the dramatic loss at the hands of raw and crude Pathan fighters led to the demise of USSR.

4.   The on-going Kashmir Issue, although Pakistan blatantly never accepts it but we are proud that Pakistan has, is and will always continue to support Kashmir for their independence from a country that doesn't seem to understand independence, even though it boasts of independence from the British. Although the struggle is on-going since 1947, but it sprung to life right after the end of Soviet's war in Afghanistan, and to this day the struggle hasn't ended. The Armed Forces along with the ISI and faithful fighters have made the illegal occupation of nearly eight hundred thousand standing army of India a difficult place to occupy. For nearly 40 years Pakistan waited for the world to decide the fate of Kashmir, but by late 1980s, the water had gone over their heads and that is when Pakistan decided to take matters into their own hands.

5.   During the Civil War in the island of Sri Lanka that spanned for nearly three decades turning into a proper full-fledged war between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the former got direct support from Pakistan. Pakistan at one stage had become the sole supplier of arms and logistics for the Sri Lankan Army during the last stages of their war against Tamil Tigers. Apart from million dollars of equipment, arms and ammunition that was provided by Pakistan, Sri Lankan Army personnel were trained in Pakistan and high-ranked Pakistani officers were also placed in positions understood to be sensitive of attacks from Tamil Tigers.

This and many other achievements of Pakistan Army are note-worthy as well as that has won respect from their peers and have over the years been a source of pride and inspiration for fellow Pakistanis. One example that could we have in front of us is that Pakistan is the second in the list of highest number of personnel acting under the United Nations with a number in excess of 10,600 as per 2010 report. However, it must be added that this institution has had its ups and downs over the course of period but let’s be honest, since the history of mankind every army has made errors that have resulted in either loss of lives or complete results of wars and battles. Pakistan Army has been no different and it’s good it’s no different. It makes them human, a realisation that we conveniently ignore only to regrettably construe it later when 140 soldiers are buried alive. To stand for your country is one thing, Pakistan with all its never-ending conundrums have actually managed to stand up and fight for the Muslims. Shame that few have stood up for us, when we still require a supporting hand in our days of darkness.
There is no one perfect in this world but history is witness to Pakistan Army's role that acted as a solid fort for the Muslim countries. Sadly, today Pakistan is paying the price for that. Yet we are proud of Pakistan Army. Pakistan Zindabad.


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