That Jolting Moment when a tweet shocked Pakistan. “I don’t believe in extension and will retire on the due date” — DG ISPR Lt. Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa quoted COAS General Raheel Sharif in a series of tweets on 25th January 2016. I was Googling ‘The Echoed Mountains’ by Khalid Hosseini when a twitter notification of Asim Bajwa pops up on the screen with the ‘preview’ “Speculations about COAS extension…” & there I felt the ‘tremor’ of the tweet! I love my iPhone if not for ‘101 Reasons’ but surely for ONE SPECIAL reason …Never ever I must say any pop up notification saddened me… they always make me smile when I see ‘@P_Musharraf Retweeted…’ , or ‘@AsimBajwaISPR: …COAS Visited…’ , ‘Mentioned by @ARYNEWSOFFICIAL …’ etc … but this one tweet from DG ISPR quoting the COAS was really shocking!
Who knew before that this date will be a beacon in the ‘timeline’ of Pakistan’s chronology! Soon after the statement, the whole media was abuzz with discussions, analysis, political statements and hashtags. The popular General Raheel Sharif, as he is, was the top trend on social media. There was respect, support, tribute and well wishes for him, for the Pakistan Army. From the whole list of tweets, these were the two lines which I liked the most:-
This was the most tweeted line:
“Tussi Jaa Rahay Ho…Tussi Na Jaao. Please! 🙁 ”
How simple it is yet expressive with all the feelings of request, respect and sadness summed up in one sentence.
The other line was very interesting:
“Hope the next COAS would also have a moustache”
Very funny , isn’t it?
This was the general public; as on the other hand there was ‘rejoice’, ‘relief’ and ‘excitement’ among politicians and their statements. Added to this there were ‘neutral’ comments by journalists, anchors and media persons. Personally I felt that in terms of ‘meaning’ they were similar to political statements. I have summed up in a paragraph as summary, the common political and ‘neutral’ statements and their ‘meanings’ (with added in bracket my own ‘reaction). This is easy as compared to mentioning each and every name that will only spoil the mood of readers and also mine.
“General sahab!(as if he really is listening to them) tareekh ap ko hamesha yaad rakhay gi…aap ka naam sunehri haroof main likha jae ga” – History will always remember you. your name will be written in golden words. (As if this nation has a long memory). They have forgotten the good name of General Pervez Musharraf whose vision, foreign policy and anti-terrorism policies the army is following till this day. Respect for him has increased many times and by this decision that requires a lot of courage he sets the example that the institution is larger than individuals. (Does respect of Pakistan Army only lie in retiring on time and what about the good work that they do for the public if ever they cross the ‘extension’ limit for the sake of Pakistan? What about other state institutions and political pillars where nothing happens on merit?). He held the constitution high. (Ok! That same ‘rusted’ constitution of 1973, from which many articles, clauses and sub clauses are not even read by judges of courts themselves before ‘disqualifying’ or ‘indicting’ someone on the basis of Article 62,63 and Article 6 respectively?)
The world media also reacted to this news and some newspapers quoted it on their front pages. Two foreign media statements I liked most!
‘Pakistan’s powerful army chief says to step down when term ends’ — Arab News (Newspaper of Saudi Arabia)
‘Pakistani General’s exit may be good for democracy – but bad for stability’ — Washington Post
The same day General Pervez Musharraf had an interview with ARY News where he said for the sake of Pakistan, General Raheel should have taken extension. It is Pakistan that should always be first. Though it is the institution that is larger but also equally important is the individual that leads it. However, he said it is the personal decision of General Raheel which he must have taken after consideration. Despite this, the statement had saddened him and also us. Whether this is the right decision or wrong, time will tell. But my take on this is that we have very short memories. In this land, sweets are distributed on 12 October 1999 when General Musharraf steps into power and ‘Tamasha’ is seen silently when he is indicted in Article 6 case, for his ‘crime’ to ‘save Pakistan’! Then what is the guarantee that the same will not be repeated with General Raheel? So our beloved #ThankyouRaheelSharif General will be leaving us in Novermber 2016…when one more 29 November will be spectacular like that of 2007!