Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Nishan-e-Haider for Soldiers of War on Terror

Pakistan has lost about 40,000 people--soldiers and civilians combined since 9/11. Since then, Pakistan military claims at every international forum it is actively engaged in fight with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to regain the state's writ on FATA, almost equal to Belgium in land area while its population is more than Georgia. The enemies-Taliban and al-Qaeda, killed 100s of the troops in the line of duty and beheaded some to terrify the generals.
But--there comes a 'but'--the military has not recognized the valor of the troops fighting the 'War on Terror' for the last more than 10 years on the most difficult terrain in the toughest phase of the country history. There is no 'Nishan-e-Haider' (NeH)--the most prestigious military medal so far, for the bravery of a single living or fallen soldier.
The highest military medal 'Nishan-e-Haider' is given to a soldier who shows unprecedented  heroism in extremely dangerous circumstances on the battlefield. The military has till this day recognized its soldiers' heroism in their fight against its self-defined arch rival India. There are 10 lucky soldiers who had been awarded with the NeH, though  posthumously, for their bravery against the enemy. (One other soldier had been awarded for his valor and had been given Hilal-e-Kashmir, equivalent to NeH.) All of them fought against India.
The NeH receivers include soldiers of almost each war and skirmish with India. Starting from 1948, soldiers who fought in 1958, 1965, 1971 and Kargal skirmish in 1999--the heroism has been recognized via honoring the best soldier with the NeH.
The country's longest and most crucial "War on Terror" with the most dangerous enemy who defies the Geneva Convention has not been recognized in terms of honoring the soldiers fighting Taliban and al-Qaeda in Waziristan, Orakzai, Kurram, Khyber, Mohmand and Bajaur. Ask a Pakistani today and s/he would not be able to recall a single name of one brave soldier who fell in the line of duty in fight against Taliban. Nor ordinary Pakistanis know about a single story of a  victory at a battlefield against militants in the over10-year long war. They would, rather, recall several names and battle stories of the Taliban or al-Qaeda, thanks to Pakistan's Jehadi media and extremists' propaganda.
Who loses at the end? Pakistan military and all forces who want a strong Pakistan. The military is accused for not owning the 'War on Terror' by not honoring its own men. The outer world too is suspicious of Pakistan. And the fight between military and extremists looks jaundiced in appearance to its critics with every passing day.