Naveed Aman Khan
SENATOR Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum HI (M) is amongst the few retired General Officers who have rich politico-military experience. In his nearly 38 years spotless military career (1966-2004) he earned war experience in 1971(Indo-Pak war) and also remained member faculty National Defence College (now a university). He observed statecraft functioning from a very close quarters when he was Military Secretary to Moeen Qureshi and Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto and later after retirement as a political worker and as a parliamentarian. The General also has the honour to head as Chairman and CEO of the two largest industrial complexes of Pakistan in the commercial sector namely Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) which peaked their performance in his tenure. In fact PSM first time in history not only cleared all its debt liabilities but also earned huge profits and paid about Rs.6 billion income tax to the Government. The General is a credible Politico-Defence analyst. Presently he chairs Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production, besides being a member on four other Committees including Defence, Kashmir, Anti-Narcotics and Statistics. He was sent to the UK as former Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Kashmir. He is author of five books mainly based on his columns.
During the current week in a very pleasant atmosphere me and the General interacted for exchange of thoughtful views. He was of the view that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has its economic, social, cultural and strategic dimensions that is why this multidimensional project should remain our top priority but unfortunately present government was still unable to even comprehend its geostrategic and geoeconomic significance. Damaging statements issued by the high Government officials created ripples and has given the impression that CPEC is now on the back burner which is very unfortunate. He added that Parliament should be taken into confidence regarding every matter of national significance especially the CPEC, Afghan peace process, preconditions for loans from friendly countries and conditionalities proposed by the IMF.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has surely enhanced Pakistan’s strategic significance which is attracting investment from many countries including Russia, France and Saudi Arabia. Playing down infrastructural and energy projects under CPEC, initiated by the previous Government, can retard progress and push the country again in to the energy crisis. No doubt CPEC is a visionary project, a zipper which connects land and maritime silk routes. China is our time tested great friend and we need to strengthen China-Pakistan bilateral strategic relationship by all means. Because of high level of confidence and close cooperation of China, today we have JF 17 Thunder and Al-Khalid tank with us. To make our defence foolproof China has also transferred defence technologies which very few other countries have ever been ready to do. The Senator said that CPEC notwithstanding, the Government must make all endeavours to reinforce our bilateral ties with all countries especially America, Russia, European Union and CARs.
Answering a question about Pakistan’s foreign policy, scholarly General said, “Present foreign policy breakthrough with USA, KSA, China, Russia, UAE or Qatar are not because of present Government but despite their blunders”. USA is forced to seek Pakistan’s help because of just policies of previous Pakistani Governments. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor investments, LNG contracts, membership of SCO and historic ties with KSA are all due to the policies of previous governments. The impact of American might and superiority in the entire world is badly shattered by resistance offered by Taliban in Afghanistan. This America-Afghanistan war has disastrous impact on American economy. Loss of seven thousand American troops and wastage of trillions of dollars has forced America to de-induct its forces from Afghanistan.
About the Kashmir issue the defence expert General Qayyum told that today more vigour and realm is seen among charged freedom fighters in Indian Held Kashmir (IoK). He termed Kashmir Movement an indigenous one. The martyrdom of great Kashmiri freedom fighters like Burhan Wani will prove to be last nail in the coffin of Indian occupation of Kashmir. He said that day is not far off when Kashmiris will be free from the Indian clutches and become part. Answering a question about the possibility of acknowledgement of Israel he made it clear that Jews are no friends of Muslims. In the entire Muslim world they are following the policy of divide and rule. We need to follow the directions of father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam who said that Pakistan will always stand with the oppressed and suppressed nations. We should never damage Palestinian and Kashmir causes. Therefore, advocacy in favour of Israel by some parliamentarians and defence analysts is unfortunate.
— The writer is political analyst based in Islamabad.