By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Who will be the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan?
The above mentioned question is the hot topic on television screens of Pakistan because Prime Minister of Pakistan has prerogative to promote any three-star general as four-star general and appoints him as new COAS. This prerogative has been granted to the Prime Minister of Pakistan by the constitution of 1973.
Historically, seniority in rank is one of the criterion for the appointment but not the only criteria and other points also come under consideration while appointing the new chief of the army.
Discussions evolving the issue of appointment of new COAS include observations of television anchors about what qualities Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif considers in a man to make him Chief of Army Staff.
Incumbent COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif was appointed by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif although he was not the most senior but he was elevated over two senior generals. The most senior was Lieutenant General Haroon Aslam who resigned over the appointment of Gen. Raheel Sharif as COAS while another senior General, Rashad Mahmood was appointed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif is quite experienced in appointing COAS and tries to find the best one for the country instead of following the simple rule of seniority.
He picked Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf who was a junior Lt. General but he was appointed by Mian Nawaz Sharif as the COAS.
Now journalists are fishing in water and different names appear on television screens as new would-be COAS. Guessing who will be new COAS is a dangerous discussion and is like dragging the top secret and sensitive issues of Pakistan Army into streets. Such discussions can help only enemies of the country. Certain television anchors are playing the most dangerous saying that Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif is habitual of picking person (new COAS) while considering his personal interests instead of following national interests. This claim elevates by certain journalists suggest that sitting COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif and former COAS Gen. Musharraf were picked on personal likeness instead of their competency while competent and deserving generals were denied their due right of promotion in past.
The allegation against Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif for picking COAS through his personal likeness is frequently coming from television anchors those are known as “Paratrooper Anchors” among journalistic cadres.
Senior journalists have been claiming that certain circles are promoting non-journalist cadre of television anchors. Journalistic cadre use terminology of “Paratrooper Anchors” for anchors those entered electronic media without having any experience and knowledge of working journalism but got exceptional status and positions with the alleged help of certain circles.
These paratrooper anchors have been criticizing democracy; parliament and prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and have been generating hatred among masses for democratic and constitutional institutions including higher judiciary and process of electing members of parliament —–Elections.
These paratroopers have gone so far that now they are claiming that Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif will appoint man of his own choice as new COAS who will serve his (Nawaz) political agenda. Such discussions can damage the integrity of Army as an institution.
One Russian propagandist of early 70s wrote a report for the then politburo and said:
“State must refrain from crafting media-men because such media-men are considered as “unofficial spokesmen” of the State by enemies as well as masses and any stupid statement come from their mouths can become extremely dangerous for the State and its institutions”.
It may be mentioned that there was no private media in former Soviet Union and propagandist was referring to media persons who were working in state run media. In Pakistan we have huge private media and crafting of media-men is a popular game by certain State institutions. Now these media-men having known cordial and close relations with certain State institutions have gone so far that they are telling how Prime Minister should appoint a new COAS and who deserves most to become new COAS.
Interestingly, paratrooper anchors are taking the lead role in directing the State how it should act and who should be new COAS of Pakistan Army. Does this trend progressive and positive for State institutions of Pakistan?
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.