General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff, a.k.a. the most popular man in Pakistan, alights from his flight from Brazil and helicopters directly to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi to address the Corps Commanders who are already assembled there.
After the military protocol is over, Gen. Sharif addresses the meeting, with the Brazilian Ordem do Mérito Militar (The Order of Military Merit) still dangling around his neck, “We all know that the Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Olympics this coming summer. So after concluding my trip to the U.S., I landed in Rio to offer them our security service for the Games.
“I told them that we have experience with sports security where no overseas cricket has come to play in Pakistan since the Sri Lankan team bus was fired upon in Lahore in March 2009. The security offer was the easy part to explain. But it was difficult to put it across that a five day game is just one match, when they are hosting the entire Olympics over a two week period: 05 to 21 August! Luckily they have YouTube so I could give them some sort of idea how just one test match works over 5 days. I don’t know if they really understood it or were just being polite. Perhaps this is why their Chief of Joint Staff General Jose Carlos De Nardi gave me this medal.
“Now over to the main reason for my visit to the United States. You know that we had started our planning as soon as we came to know about the Prime Minister’s impending visit to Washington.
“We know how our Prime Minister pulls out notes from his pocket and reads from them when he is talking to heads of states and other people. Our concerns were never misplaced.
“Who knows that President Obama would be talking about the Kashmir issue, especially with the United States is so keen on inducting India into the Security Council, and our Prime Minister would be reading from other notes.
“Imagine that Obama is discussing Kashmir and our Prime Minister gets his fingers on Ishaq Dar’s notes about interest rates that would be acceptable to us. May be he would be reading 3.01956 to 4.00153 percent would be acceptable to us. I can imagine Obama’s head spinning both ways that why after 60 plus years of asking for a plebiscite in Kashmir, Pakistan is ready to settle for 3.01956 to 4.00153 percent of the territory!
“You know, as I was not meeting with Obama so I made sure to meet with the Vice-President, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and especially their Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. I had to check at every level.
“But I must say that it was rather impolite of the Americans to announce that I was in Washington D.C. on my own volition and Department of Defense officials had met me at my request.
“Our General Bajwa had done his job timely when he sounded out on 11 November that ‘governance initiatives’ were in order to complement efforts of the security forces in the fight against terrorism. This was most apt and timely because most of the Prime Minister’s thinking time is being spent on mass transportation! And now I hear an amusement park as well!
“Generals, the Americans know it very well that it is us who hold the real power in Pakistan Indeed, the Prime Minister is the head of the government, but it is we who manage foreign and defense policies.
“Do you think that the Americans are trying to curry some favors with Nawaz Sharif? A sort of a pat on the back, or just trying to hint that by November next, I will not be on the scene.
“We will take care of that because at the end, it is us who are working on their war against terrorism.
“Rest assured that General Bajwa will make it clearer to the Americans when they come asking to talk to us. Insults can never be taken lying down. It is not our tradition!”