Much of the response has been negative to the article below, as in opposed to my POV, but then that is expected. Someone even said I was biased because I have not got my “dues” from the Army!
Anyhow, the following is part of a letter from a high-ranking officer, incidentally a name I am familiar with – I have left out the portion where he gives details about what else he has done, just so as to not reveal much, yet. Am also posting my reply…
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Dear Ms Farzana Versey,
Since we don't know each other, let me start by informing you that one of my current jobs is media and image of the Army. Let me also apprise you…(list of his other activities).
I am afraid your article gives me a feeling that you have never met an army officer, nor have you a feel of how our men live. You haven't a feel either of our commitment levels, that sees us through the privations, in order that you may retain your freedom and dignity. Should you want to have a feel of what you are writing about before you put pen to paper, you are welcome to interact with me or my officers. It will surely get you on to uphoding the dignity of this organisation - the Army - that assuses you, your's.
With warm regards.
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Dear (Rank) XYZ:
Thank you for writing in and giving me your perspective. I do understand that from the other side what I have written may certainly not be palatable, and given your current assignment there would be no reason for you to even accept my version.
I understand that. Having done so, may I add that you have not denied any of the aspects I have brought up? They are based on facts that have been reported. Facts that cannot be ignored. You, being in the position you are, do have access to clarify or put forward your version. I was writing about a certain facet and unfortunately it does not make sense to me to try and balance things out by saying, “Oh, but they also go through privations.” That is a given, and the fact that I mentioned clothes meant for soldiers in high altitude areas being sold in the general market did convey that those soldiers were being denied their rightful due. That the ones committing the crime were their own is disappointing. The dignity of any organisation is to be respected, but not blindly.
To answer your other question: Yes, I have indeed met armymen as well as their families. It might be of some interest for you to know that I, an ordinary citizen, have been pursuing the case of the missing POWS in Pakistan for the last 15 years. There are other civilians and activists doing that. Perhaps you could help with this case, for I have not really heard any voices from the Army coming out openly and fighting for their colleagues, while their families have been doing so since 1971. It is never too late.
Whenever I want to get a feel of what I am writing, I depend largely on facts, my interactions, and form my own opinions. However, there may be occasion for me to need more information or another perspective, and for that I would be grateful to use your offer.
I should hope you take this letter in the spirit I have taken your criticism. On a lighter note: I do write about terrorism and I have never met a terrorist and I write about religion and never met god. The latter I am in no hurry to…
With best wishes,