Pakistan is no stranger to the civilian-military divide in our history. But whenever it rears its ugly head, there is an inevitable veritable flurry of staking out positions by all stakeholders. In the current conflict, the institution of army has expressed its concern over accusations of ‘interference’ in political affairs. Without mentioning any name, the army has shown its serious reservations to ‘intensified’ and ‘deliberate’ attempts to drag its name into the ongoing political discourse by some political leaders, journalists and analysts. Amid the ongoing political upheaval in the country, the role of powerful institutions has come under scrutiny and they have been facing criticism from certain quarters concerned.
Mainly politicians are making veiled reference to the role of judiciary and army in the political conflict between the ruling PML-N and the opposition PTI. The leadership of both the parties with their ‘like-minded’ media persons is advocating their narratives at public platforms. The crux of various speeches made by main leadership of the PTI and PML-N is that the former is covertly seeking help from the establishment for ouster of the present government while the latter never misses any opportunity to highlight past incidents when they were ousted from the power corridors due to the alleged involvement of powerful institutions. These accusations from politicians have prompted the army to issue a presser, stressing its ‘neutral role’ in the current situation. Arguably, the civil-military conflict is uncalled for and a consensus must be built that there should be no overstepping the constitutional, limited role by any institution. Additionally, the method whereby the military conveyed its concerns through a public statement is also uncalled for. It should have been issued by the Ministry of Defence.
The establishment, executive, legislature and the judiciary are the key arms of any democratic society which are meant to play a balancing act against the possible excesses of any one: they exist to facilitate and, if necessary, curtail each other and this process is called the balance of powers and it is necessary to prevent authoritarian overreach and overpowering of any one institution. Every institution needs to be cautious regarding infringement of other’s rights and in the whole process, the sole focus should be on the supremacy of law. These are rules and if any one who transgresses should be severely punished. The greater the power in the hands of an individual or an institution the greater is the need and responsibility to exercise it with utmost caution, because any power that is not regulated by law or is exercised excessively can result in, at times, grave consequences. All institutions need to take stock of their working and correct itself before any other institution points fingers at their performance. All institutions need to be careful regarding the domain of each other. Any indifference or clash of opinion can result into a big crisis and can lead to anarchy in the country. The law should be applied to all without any discrimination. Although, the military’s support to democracy is commendable, yet no one should give such an impression that democracy is under threat in the country and all stakeholders need to work for strengthening a democratic set-up. Let us all work for flourishing democracy in Pakistan.