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جمعرات, نومبر 8, 2012

Now another institutional clash

It is no surprise therefore that every time a powerful head of one or the other state institution speaks publicly, the common point of reference tends to be a recognition of and respect for the legitimate purview of each institution and appeals for restraint as far as straying into the turf of other institutions is concerned. May this democratic evolution finally arrive at an agreed delineation of these matters that proves mutually acceptable to all institutions. There lies hops and confidence of a better future.

Addressing the officers at the Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ), COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had the moral courage to admit the mistakes made in the past, and suggested that all the institutions should work according to the dictates of the Constitution. He said: “As a nation we are passing through a defining phase…Weakening of the institutions and trying to assume more than one’s role will set us back…Any effort, which wittingly or unwittingly draws a wedge between the people and Armed Forces of Pakistan undermines the larger national interest”.

He had always kept his cool despite provocations from some palmed off politicos and a few media men who had unleashed propaganda campaign against the military and intelligence agencies. They had tried to denigrate military especially after 2nd May 2011 episode and terrorists’ attack on Mehran Naval base on 26th November 2011, raising doubts about their capabilities of defending the integrity and sovereignty of the country.

Coincidentally almost at the same time, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while speaking to audience of the National Management Course in Islamabad also stressed that all should abide by the Constitution, and among other things he said: “Gone are the days when stability and security of the country was defined in terms of number of missiles and tanks as a manifestation of hard power available at the disposal of the State”. He might have said in some different context, but some media men are trying to convey an impression as if there is a clash between the institutions and the statements were quid pro quo. Immediately after the ISPR’s press release, some anchorpersons, analysts and commentators started tossing around the question whether it is a warning shot to the judiciary, media or both. The fact remains that there has been a lot of military-bashing in the media for the aberrations and flawed decisions of some generals in the past, who are either retired or are no more in this world. Unfortunately, a few anchorpersons and palmed off politicos, anchorpersons, analysts and fifth columnists have unleashed the propaganda against the armed forces and intelligence agencies.

There are no two opinions that the present judiciary under the leadership of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has earned the much-deserved respect and present status through its landmark judgments in cases like Pakistan Steel Mill, Stock Exchange and other scams. However, the problem is that during the course of hearings, especially in missing persons’ case the court gave remarks such as “for every third missing person the fingers are raised towards the Frontier Constabulary” that could have been the cause of misgiving between the institutions. Last month, Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad resumed the hearing on a petition filed on the law and order situation in Balochistan, in which Baloch nationalist leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal made submissions including his six points. According to an English daily, Chief Justice of Pakistan in his concluding remarks had said that the ‘death squads’ of ISI and MI agencies should be abolished. That point besides, one finds insinuations against the military and intelligence agencies in TV talk shows and especially print media.

Last month, General Kayani was criticized when before flying to Moscow he had said “the army would support any solution to the Balochistan crisis provided it was within the Constitution.” Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is indeed the most powerful man in the country, paradoxically enjoying the reputation of an army chief who believes in non-interference in the democratic process. General Kayani has more than once categorically stated that the army supports the democratic process and is cognizant of its constitutional obligations and responsibilities. There is no reason to disbelieve him, as his stance that he wants to be professional and keep the army out of politics has contributed towards strengthening democracy. It is worth mentioning that General Kayani has conducted himself superbly during the last five years and stayed away from politics. He had, of course, salvaged the situation when government and opposition were on the verge of clash during the movement of restoration of judiciary. It will not be wrong to say that the deposed judges including the chief justice were restored because of his persuasion.

It has to be mentioned that General Kayani was the first head of the army who strictly directed all officers of the Pakistan Army and commanding officers to stay away from politics in line with the established rules and should not call any politician in headquarters or in their offices. In a letter written to officers, he had stated that the role of the Armed Forces was already defined in country’s laws and Constitution, adding that the officers should not indulge in any profit-making venture other than their salary and perks as per their ranks. Following his directives army officers deployed in civil departments were recalled to their units, which was appreciated by the people at large. Instead of appreciating the role of present military leadership, a few politicos, some anchorpersons, analysts and panelists criticize military and intelligence agencies for interfering in affairs of the state. Military leadership’s reaction to Kerry-Lugar bill, which contained certain clauses that trampled the sovereignty of the country, was also dubbed as interference in policy matters.

One should appreciate that military is not involved in politics today, and according to reports the political wing of the ISI was also closed four years ago, which has been confirmed by the defense minister. It has to be mentioned that when General Ashfaq Kayani took over as COAS, terrorists had traumatized the people of Pakhtunkhawa and FATA. The writ of state did not exist in Swat and Malakand at that time, as the civil administration was on the run, and political leaders had abandoned their abodes to find safe havens away from the terrorists. It has to be acknowledged that armed forces have given supreme sacrifice during two wars with India. Only during the war on terror, army has lost more than 4000 jawans and officers. It should be realized that they are the ones who are ready to lay down their lives so that their compatriots and coming generations could live without trepidation and fear. Therefore, any effort to demoralize them; or stirring clash between the institutions would be baneful for the country. _______________________________________________________

 Thank You For Reading.
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