File photo: Pak Chief of Army Staff Qamar Jawed Bajwa. Photograph:( ANI )
The trend hints that Pakistani generals come to power promising fire and fury against India but closer to retirement, they want to be remembered as statesmen and the ones who tried to forge peace
Most Pakistani generals spend their career deriding India. They are always at their prime minister's ear, feeding them all kinds of anti-India propaganda. This is one reason the relationship is so difficult.
The civilian leaders take one step forward and the military pulls them two steps back. However, looking at history, we noticed a trend among these generals. When they see retirement on the horizon, they suddenly become wise and rational — no more war-mongering or sabre-rattling.
In 1956, Gen Ayub Khan dispatched his minister for India's Republic Day and in 1986 Gen Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq visited India as he was invited by former prime minister Rajeev Gandhi. Then we have Pervez Musharraf who was keen on having closer ties with India in the public eye. India and Pakistan have held 114 bilateral talks since independence and 52 of them came between 2003 and 2007 under Pervez Musharraf.
The trend hints that Pakistani generals come to power promising fire and fury against India but closer to retirement, they want to be remembered as statesmen and the ones who tried to forge peace.
We are seeing this happen all over again. The current army chief, Gen Bajwa, has 18 months left in office and he is already thinking about his legacy.
In Pakistan, a general's legacy is not just about the battlefield. He is linked to the economy, internal politics and even geopolitics.
Usually, countries have civilian leaders handling it but not Pakistan.
During Bajwa's tenure, Pakistan's economy has taken a beating. They have requested multiple IMF bailouts. The foreign reserves are running out fast and the country is left with just $13 billion dollars.
In addition to this, the military had to suffer budget cuts and there is nothing Gen Bajwa can do.
The FATF listing is yet another darkness that covers the country. Pakistan has been on the ‘grey list’ for three years now and no progress has been made.
It is a similar scenario in geopolitics. Allies such as Saudi Arabia are choosing India over Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the world community has just one message for them: please stay away and let Afghanistan prosper.
In the end, Pakistan is only left with China as an ally but it won't be long before the Chinese loan comes due.
Gen Bajwa is, therefore, trying to score a point on India by talking about peace. Bajwa, in March, urged countries to bury the past and move forward.
The festival of Eid came as the perfect excuse for Bajwa. While offering prayers, he commented on Kashmir, saying, "it is time to end this human tragedy".