Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022
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Jackboot Prints

Jackboot Prints

A cornered Pakistan army can now be asked to loosen its hold

Jackboot Prints Jackboot Prints

It was a scene unprecedented in the annals of Pakistan. Behind the closed doors of Parliament, in an in-camera joint session of the two Houses—the Senate and the National Assembly—the top military brass, sullen and sheepish, briefed the representatives of people about the intelligence failure of May 2, arguably Pakistan’s worst in six decades of existence. Billed as ‘a rare civilian moment’, the military for the first time ‘surrendered’ itself to Parliament and fielded questions about Operation Geronimo. Wasn’t the close proximity of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s hideout to the country’s elite military academy testimony to the isi’s incompetence? Wasn’t it an abject failure of the military that it was oblivious to the US strike in the heart of the country until Washington informed Pakistani leaders about it?

As military bosses risked Parliament’s censure, ISI director-general Shuja Pasha declared, “I am a disciplined person.... If the prime minister wants me to resign, I am ready to leave. I accept the responsibility and apologise if any negligence is established.” Such pious nods at accountability had dark undertones as well. The air force deputy chief, Air Marshal Muhammad Hassan, said Pakistan did not have the means to detect a stealth chopper—a significant disclosure from an institution that gobbles up 70 per cent of the annual budget. When a parliamentarian complained about US drones encroaching upon Pakistani air space, Hassan deftly responded, saying the PAF could shoot down drones should the prime minister issue such orders.

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