Situation explosive: PM, allies on trial
No one can dispute the premier’s authority as the chief executive of the country to appoint or remove the defence services chiefs, but the timing he has chosen to confront the army, is definitely questionable. He has not only himself placed in an awkward position, but has also put on trial his allies like the MQM, PML(Q) and the ANP.
The action has not only tended to add to uncertainty prevalent since last few weeks, it has made it worse. The army hit back with the rejoinder from ISPR that General Kayani and General Shuja Paasha, both had acted under notice from the supreme court on memo gate case, and clarified further that they had routed their replies to the court notice through the ministry of defence and the attorney general of Pakistan.
It also reminded the premier that on December 16 he himself had upheld the steps from the two army generals as entirely within the ambit of the rules of regulations. Why this sudden downturn now, is a question that defies answer, and can only be termed as mysterious. On Tuesday night, a high profile meeting was held at the Presidency, in which insiders said that the three main allies of the government, advised the premier to restrain himself, and avoid doing anything that might, instead of diffusing the situation, may turn it volatile. The premier seems to have acted conversely, and has caused shock and dismay among the people.
Reports that the army chief has summoned his principal staff officers for an urgent session in GHQ tomorrow, shows that the army, also is ready to pick up cudgel with the government. Also the triple brigade in Westridge, Rawalpindi, and the corps commanders, leading their respective forces in different parts of the country, have apparently been ordered to remain in their respective headquarters, does indicate something,But since the internal situation, and also internationally the time is not ripe for any coup etc, the only logical solution now appears that the army may line itself behind the Supreme Court, whose position in current situation, has now turned decisive. The MQM had summoned an urgent session of its policy making Coordination Committee in Karachi and London for a joint session late on Wednesday evening, and the Mian Nawaz Sharif, has summoned his parliamentary committee in Islamabad tomorrow, shows that the situation is extremely serious, and demands wisdom and foresight from all and sundry.
After all it was General Kayani who had saved the situation, created by the long march of Nawaz Sharif on the issue of lifting restrictions on the Chief Justice, house arrested by the then President General Musharraf. Kayani has displayed tremendous farsight and has often salvaged the government from hopeless situations. He is not expected therefore to do anything abnormal at this time of point. But the prime minister is to blame for inflaming the situation. His interview to the Chinese media accusing the army and the ISI chiefs of betraying their oath on Constitution, and divesting from the rules of business, was ill-timed ,given when Kayani was China. Then only a day after, and that too apparently irked by the five-member supreme court judgement of 6 options on a sensitive issue,in which the Prime Minister and the President were indirectly accused of not upholding their oath of office under the Constitution, the premier sacked the defence secretary, giving rise to speculations that he might through his trusted bureauract, Nargis Sethi, given the additional charge held by General (r) Khalid Naeem, would resort to extreme action of sacking Kayani and Shuja Pasha, was enough to cause anxiety.
But then Thursday’s meeting at GHQ of principal staff officers of the army, may also decide that in case such a decision is taken, then none of the army officers will be willing to fill the two places, vacated by the removal of Army and ISI chiefs.
This would create a dangerous vacuum as the army will be without any command. It will be a delicate situation for a country, facing innumerable problems already. People are keeping their keeping fingers crossed, and watching the entire drama rather restlessly.