System of Meritocracy in Pak Army

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Ali Anwar

It is just due to the system of meritocracy that a person hailing from a middle-class family becomes the commander of the world’s strongest army.

It is a fact that meritocracy is the basic hallmark of the Pakistan Army. The words “merit” and “discipline” are enough to summarize the institution of our army. All the appointments, transfers and postings are made purely on merit in our armed forces. The Pakistan Army is one of the strongest forces in the world just due to its transparent system based on strict discipline and merit. Our civil institutions lost their prestige over the years when they started compromising on the system of meritocracy. Sadly, politicians used these civil institutions for their personal and petty interests and therefore they lost respect and prestige among the masses. Since the inception of Pakistan, our army never compromised on the principle of meritocracy, which is largely why our soldiers enjoy great respect among the people. During the recent floods that have created havoc in the country, Pakistan Army once again proved that it is the most strengthened institution. Brave soldiers of the Pakistan Army rescued the people stranded in far-flung areas while also shifting their livestock to a safer place. It all happened just due to the strong system of meritocracy adopted by the Pakistan Army.
It is really unfortunate that Imran Khan is showing his political immaturity during his TV interviews and public rallies since he was ousted from the Prime Minister’s office as a result of a purely democratic move. First, he talked about a foreign conspiracy behind his removal from office. This foreign conspiracy narrative has been exposed on many forums as there was nothing in it. Later, Imran Khan started finding some internal hands behind his ouster but he failed miserably in proving it. We all know that Imran Khan is known as a man who takes “U-turns” from his statements and policies. Every political leader should select his choice of words very carefully but Imran Khan lacks this basic ability of a good politician. Just recently, he stated during a public rally regarding the appointment of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He tried to make the appointment procedure of COAS controversial ignoring the consequences of his statement. Such remarks coming from a person who held the most coveted office in the country are disappointing. A befitting reply came from the DGISPR who categorically stated that the appointments in the army are made purely on merit and all the generals are capable of leading the force.
We all know that an army General has to travel a long journey that he starts as a Lieutenant years ago. A Lieutenant has to undergo a hectic exercise to become a Captain. Then, a Captain reaches the rank of a Major after passing many hurdles. Similarly, if the hard work and luck favour the Major, he becomes Colonel. From Brigadier to Maj Gen and from Maj Gen to Lt Gen, the man reaches the highest office of the Pak Army after a successful career. After becoming the Lt General, he becomes the potential candidate to lead one of the strongest armies in the world. From a cadet of PMA Kakul to a professional General, there is a long journey that he had travelled successfully. From the loneliness of the border to the difficult terrain of the North, from the desert of Cholistan to the glaciers of Siachen, Lt Gen travels a long journey during his career. It is tantamount to insulting the services of that Lt Gen when someone tries to make controversial the appointment of an army chief. All the contenders for COAS are professional and equally able to command the force. It is part of our history that every COAS of Pakistan reached the prestigious office after following the system of meritocracy. No one can question even today the ability of all the previous army chiefs that Pakistan had. They became the commander of the world’s best army just due to their ability and dedication.
There is a set procedure in Pak Army to appoint the new COAS. The names of four to five senior most Generals are sent to Prime Minister by the army itself through the Ministry of Defense. The Prime Minister recommends the one Lt Gen to the President of Pakistan to appoint him as the COAS. All the senior most Generals who are mentioned in the list sent by Defense Ministry are equally capable and professional. It is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to select anyone while also having input from the institution. The Pak Army follows the system of meritocracy in its true letter and spirit. It is just due to the system of meritocracy that a person hailing from a middle-class family becomes the commander of the world’s strongest army. We have many precedents in Pakistan where we witnessed the army chiefs who came from a very humble background and they got an opportunity to command the largest army in the Islamic world.
It is the responsibility of our politicians to think carefully while talking about the army and its commander. The whole nation thinks that the Pakistan Army is the only institution that follows merit religiously. Every Pakistani thinks that the system of meritocracy should be implemented in every institution of the country the way we saw in the military. It is the Pak Army only where the child of a poor man can get the opportunity to become the commander of the world’s strongest army. The soldiers are the son of this soil and the Pak Army is our pride.

The writer is an old Aitchisonian who believes in freedom of expression, a freelance columnist, entrepreneur and social activist.