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EditorialArmy’s ‘intervention’ in politics

Army’s ‘intervention’ in politics

Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema’s grudge against the oath-taking of Mr. Hamza Shehbaz as the chief minister has not settled yet and he is busy making every effort for his ouster. According to the provincial governor, the appointment of Hamza Shehbaz is ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’ and it was implemented due to the judiciary’s intervention. Earlier, his refusal to administer the oath to Hamza Shehbaz had created a constitutional crisis that prolonged for over a month. A tussle is going on between the main office holders which have been divided mainly between two political parties – the PML-N and PTI. Both are using every tactic to defeat the opponent. Well, time is ticking away for the Punjab governor, who could be removed from the office as a summary has been sent twice for his dismissal by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Legally, the governor could automatically be dismissed 10 days after the submission of the summary, following which the premier would send advice to the president for the appointment of a new governor. However, the imbroglio continues as the governor claims that only the president has the authority to remove him. Amid distress of his impending removal, he is wooing a third force, which is the institution of the army, for intervention. Reportedly, he has written a letter to the military chief and sought his ‘help’ in resolving the political impasse in Punjab as a last resort. The governor’s act of seeking the army intervention in political matters is arguably unjustified. Pakistan already has a chequered history of the army’s role in the country’s politics.

Though the influence of the military establishment on almost all national issues cannot be ruled out, yet seeking its direct intervention tantamount to the subjugation of a democratic system in the country.

A question arises that why the institution needs to be involved in almost every national issue and politics despite the fact that the prime responsibility of the army is to protect the borders. There is a need to strengthen the civilian setup and democracy in the country for the well-being of citizens. Amid the conspiracy theories and the debates that such moves had stirred earlier as well, the political parties should realise that they have not done much to improve the democratic system in the country in the past. For a long, Pakistan has been governed by ad-hoc decisions. However, there should be continuity in the democratic system, and everyone should follow the standards set by the constitution. Lastly, Pakistan has seen a military rule for almost half of its life. The political parties either did not exist as popular entities or were banned during most of that period, and politicians were demonised to such an extent that the results are evident to date.

Furthermore, the behaviour of the political parties has not helped much to consolidate their image in the eyes of the public either. It is about time that the political parties realise the need to strengthen the democracy as well as educate the public in this regard. Notwithstanding, the weaknesses of democracy in Pakistan under no circumstances the democratic system is to be derailed for any other form of government.

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