30 August 2018 shall be remembered as memorable day in the history of Pakistan when Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan visited General Headquarters Rawalpindi along with few cabinet ministers. On arrival in GHQ Prime Minister was received by Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa Chief of Army Staff. He was presented with guard of honor and later on introduced his Principal Staff Officers of General Headquarters including DG ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar
It has been a memorable day on many counts. This is first time in the history of Pakistan when Prime Minister of Pakistan visited GHQ and spent 8 hours and purely discussed professional matters. He was briefed on defense, security and service matters. It was wonderful display of civilian and army being on one page. It was also first time in GHQ when Prime Minister occupied head chair that too all alone and nobody sitting by his side. This is how it should have been; it simply reflects that we have really entered in to Naya Pakistan.
In the past other Prime Ministers have also been visiting GHQ but with very low profile. They all came sat and after some time went away. Their visits were merely a formality and for a very short duration and therefore one can term those visits as courtesy calls as nothing could be discussed in such short periods. It will be interesting to quote an example of first lady Prime Minister Shaheed Benazeer Bhutto when she visited GHQ; Gen Mirza Aslam Beg Aslam Beg was the Chief of Army Staff who received her without head gear which is otherwise mandatory for all officers to wear it whenever any high dignitary visits GHQ. By not wearing head gear, he violated code of conduct of officers the main purpose behind this dis respect was not to salute her, little realizing that it shall form part of history of Pakistan. He introduced his all the principal staff officers who were also all without head gear. It was an act of bad discipline as full and proper protocol was denied to sitting Prime Minister who had won elections but not with sufficient votes to form government at the centre. Unfortunately while handing over of government to Shaheed Benazeer Bhutto there was reluctance on the part of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan but due to certain compromises she made because he had no choice. Now things have changed. Former Prime Minister also wanted some changes but he chose undignified methods that ultimately led to his downfall due to own follies. It is interesting he has the unique privilege to appoint more army chief’s than any other head of state but very unfortunate could not keep good relations with any of them. He had some unknown fear that is not again understandable at all. Memo gate scandal during PPP regime and Dawn leaks during Sharif’s tenure were in bad taste, in any case the beneficiaries were others who exploited him to their own benefit
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to General Headquarters is certainly historic because it provided him the opportunity to have direct interaction with the top hierarchy of the army and freely discussed all type of issues in confidence and utmost secrecy not like Dawn leaks. He must have raised many questions and must have been very vocal by giving his comments on each and every issue. His 8 hours stay in GHQ is very meaningful and shall have far reaching results. His visit has created great impact within country and abroad, a very clear message has gone to everybody that there is no such thing as civil military divide. Whatever he has done in 15 days could have taken months but that shows he means business and is not going to sit idle and do something for the country. His visit to GHQ is also message for those who are always busy finding faults in the army. He gave assurance to army that his government shall do its best to meet the needs of defense forces and defense will be further strengthened. Prime Minister applauded the role of armed forces in combating the menace of terrorism from Pakistan and praised the valuable sacrifices rendered by our brave officers and soldiers.
The history of Pakistan is changing, we see a new dawn appearing with Imran Khan as Prime Minister of Pakistan and credit goes to him for discovering civil military relationships with greater degree of confidence and self reliance
The writer is a freelance journalist and defence Analyst.