“The officer cadre is divided into three distinct categories. One consists of the officers who are ambitious, have right attitudes and can manage to have their careers monitored. They are adequately professional, manage to do the right courses and get upwardly mobile appointments. They are the ones who usually have godfathers. A large percentage of this group attains higher ranks as majority of them; by design or by default manage to choose their bosses.

The second category has fairly competent, dedicated and hard working officers who produce good results in the field but some how fail to make the mark. This group rises only by sheer merit. The percentage of officers in this category making it to higher ranks is abysmally low.

The third category that has the largest population misses out early in the career and generally gives up. They are seen as drag or burden on the organization”.

Sounds familiar? Should be; especially to those who have served the country in the Defense Forces. However, pause a while; these are excerpts from an article on the internet by a Pakistani retired army officer about the Pakistan Army. Read on further,

“Of the many problems bedeviling the army, two are serious and of gigantic proportions. One is the patronage syndrome whereby mediocrity leap frogs meritocracy. Patronage syndrome stems from political, bureaucratic and parochial benevolence – some of genuine causes but mostly for wrong. This is particularly true for higher ranks for posting, promotion, releases and even for prestigious merit based professional courses. Irony is that nominations and recommendations for gallantry awards are equally and regrettably conditioned by personal equations rather than professional performance. Considerations of regimental affiliations, personal and social rapports and old boys network mean more than any other consideration. This pattern, unless checked, will result in creating distinct classes in the army, an utterly dangerous trend.”

How true and realistic an assessment. But the best is to follow.

”The second and equally repugnant is the sycophancy gaining ground for an assured vertical climb. Loyalty as an attribute of leadership has been personalized to an unhealthy extent. In professional matters dissent is taken either as unwillingness or an act of defiance, both of which invite punitive course.”

I personally would totally agree with, Napoleon Bonaparte, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”. Let the Pakistani’s excel in their prevalent culture and tradition of officer (mis)management. Full cheers to them

But then why are we steeped and mired in a similar pattern? To those who disagree, do again listen to Napoleon Bonaparte” Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.” Yes, the sheer enormity of the situation inscribed indelibly on the minds of each and every right thinking soldier, is staring at us. . Change is often anathema to those in power and those who are subservient and unquestioning are most desired. Can we strive to bring in the desired change? We could try.

Let us shed this cloak of sycophancy and bring in the old tested values. To choose for us a career in the armed forces for service coupled with self advancement; to carry on with the baton in our knapsack with self-righteousness, pride and dignity. Let us do away with this “Sahayak (bat man)” mentality; which makes us subservient, docile and malleable by bowing and remaining silent spectators to the whims and fancies of the benefactor to whom we have sold ourselves for a bright future. Let us not when in authority and power exercise and expect the same from our beneficiaries that we have experienced and performed during our ascendancy. In short let us stop becoming “Sahayak Generals”

To be born free is an accident, to live free is a privilege and to die free is a responsibility. Yes this responsibility, of not our own life but of many lives is the prime most concern especially to those who in the hierarchy are privileged to plan to maintain or restore our freedom through the final and fatal means at their disposal. Unfortunately, during the past three decades more lives have been lost than should have been, in the skirmishes/ operations for want of care and diligence on the part of those at the helm of the affairs. Where these men who acted and ordered the men in battle in the way they did morally sound, ethically clean and professionally efficient? I have no answers; the pointers and the indicators could be in the Sri Lanka fiasco, operation Blue Star and operation Vijay, the Kargil battle.

The only input that I have; having observed some of them at close quarters; a few of them who mattered, certainly were “Sahayak Generals.”