On April 7, Gen. Raheel Sharif surprised the country with what has widely been taken as a principled statement of soldierly solidarity with Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former Army chief who remains Al Qaeda’s prime target for assassination and the ruling party’s No. 1 enemy. Sharif announced that the Army would “resolutely preserve its own dignity and institutional pride.” The Army chief said this at the headquarters of the commando Special Services Group, to which Musharraf once belonged, in response to a soldier upset about the grotesque Army bashing on television—especially by the defense and railways ministers. The two ministers have been taunting Musharraf, asking him to act “like the son of a man.” The defense minister, Khawaja Asif, has accused Musharraf’s “supporters” of being “mentally unbalanced” and accused them of planting explosives in the former president’s path for sympathy and political point-scoring. After Sharif’s statement, which was politic and remarkable for its context, the pathological screed against the Army and Musharraf noticeably declined on talk shows. An upset Asif, who is likely to lose the defense ministry, played victim by blaming the media for misrepresenting his “principled position” and saying that he would “die for the Army.”
From our April 12-19, 2014, issue.