“You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.” (― Jalaluddin Rumi)
“Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif made the most difference in the service of our country. He proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he is one of the finest military leaders of his generation.” These words of praise by Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif aptly depict the respect and reverence the nation has for this brave son of the soil who hung up his boots on November 29. The nation has bidden adieu to a General who, without a shadow of a doubt, was the finest military chief in Pakistan’s history. With an impeccable career in Pakistan Army, the General showed great professionalism by setting another great tradition of making way for the new COAS without seeking any extension.
The General’s nationalist outlook, his unswerving loyalty to the motherland, his enviable valiance and his astuteness in leading from the front has earned him popularity and respect that befits his service to the nation. He ruled over the hearts of millions of Pakistanis to such an extent that “his massive portraits adorn the backs of lorries, posters depict him as saviour of the nation and he continues to inspire devotional social media hashtags,” as BBC’s M Ilyas Khan puts it.
It was with his bravery and professionalism that Pakistan made great strides in its war against terrorism and witnessed a steep fall in terror incidents. This fact has been corroborated by the Global Terrorism Index 2016 which attributes Pakistan’s successes to “Operation Zarb-e-Azb and other military operations launched by Pakistan Army” under the command of General Sharif. On the one hand, the General dealt with terrorists with iron hands while, on the other, kept rattling the enemies of Pakistan’s geographical as well as ideological boundaries. He went all out to make Pakistan a safer country and improving the capabilities of its armed forces so as to make the country’s defence impregnable. He was a thorough professional having no political ambitions. He stayed away from the game of politics despite the fact that silliness on the part of some politicians left no stone unturned in luring him to take over. His remarkable professionalism not only infused a renewed passion of patriotism among the soldiers of Pakistan Army but also gave nation a hope that they will soon see a terrorism-free, peaceful Pakistan.
Besides numerous military successes on his credit, the biggest achievement of General Sharif is restoring peace in Balochistan and helping the civilian government with full vigour in making the dream of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a historic reality. His special interest in, and outstanding services for, the CPEC project were acknowledged by the Prime Minister himself who paid glowing tribute to the General by thanking him “for his support and personal interest towards the CPEC”. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that this mega project, often referred to as the ‘game-changer’ for the region, is the legacy of this great General.
His successful three-year tenure as the COAS leaves behind many lessons to be learnt by all, especially the mettlesome and high-spirited youth of Pakistan. General’s message is very clear: be scrupulously honest and completely loyal to your homeland. What’s the thing that makes General Sharif so great that every Pakistani loves, respects and adores him? It was indubitably his honesty in performing his duties and an extreme devotion to his country. And, this is the core lesson to be learnt from his service and career.
As a nation we are mired in various crises; corruption, nepotism, cronyism, political gimmickry and all such vices have permeated our society to such an extent that everybody fells that ‘there can’t be any betterment in the state of affairs’. But, the General has shown us that everything can be done once you start moving forward with a clear sense of purpose and with an avowed resolve of not getting deterred by anything, come what may.
To cut the long story short, the General’s message is very clear: be honest and perform your duties with complete devotion. General Sharif has proved his mettle; perhaps it’s the time for our rulers as well as the people to do the same.
In the end, it is clear beyond any doubt that the tenure of COAS General Raheel Sharif will be a golden page in the history of Pak Army. And, it is earnestly hoped that the new COAS, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, will carry on the legacy of his predecessor and will live up to the high expectations the nation now has attached with him.