Vilification of Judiciary and Armed Forces


Mohammad Jamil
IT is unfortunate that some politicians, intellectual elite, commentariat and civil society members through their statements and comments denigrate the state institutions, and also try to stoke clash between them. They should realize that clash between the institutions could shake up the very foundations of the state, and the consequences could be disastrous. Addressing a press conference, former Supreme Court Bar Association President Asma Jahangir on Thursday criticized the superior judiciary over what she called a ‘controversial verdict’ in Panamagate case. She sarcastically said: “We were expecting bags filled with diamonds, but matter ended with just an ‘Aqama’ (resident permit)”. She was also critical of the security establishment for controlling the democratic structure in the country. About the appointment of a supervisory judge for NAB references against Sharifs, she said there had been no such precedent. This time round she has drawn flak also from lawyers’ fraternity.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) deplored what it called a vilification campaign against the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court as well as against the armed forces in the wake of the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister. Mohammad Ahsan Bhoon, Vice Chairman of the PBC said that any move to undermine the prestige and dignity of the Supreme Court and the armed forces will be resisted with full force. He went on to say that the legal fraternity would not hesitate to go to any extent for protecting the judiciary, as it is the nation’s last hope.” Rasheed A Rizvi, President Supreme Court Bar Association, said it was wrong to cast aspersions on the judiciary, or to insinuate that the judgment against Nawaz Sharif was the result of pressure by outside elements or the establishment. Since 2007, armed forces have stayed neutral and have no favorites.
The then COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had withdrawn military personnel from various departments and issued instructions that military personnel would not have interaction with politicians. Hussain Haqqani the then Pakistan’s ambassador to the US had written a memo to Admiral Mike Mullen unarguably at the behest of the PPP leadership. The then Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was accused of planning to bring down the government in the aftermath of the raid on Osama bin Laden on May 2. In the memo, Mike Mullen was asked to use his influence to stop it. “The government will allow the US to propose names of officials to investigate bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan, facilitate American attempts to target militants like Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and Taliban chief Mullah Omar, and allow the US greater oversight of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons”, the memo said.
The Memo Commission’s report concluded that the memorandum was real and it was authored by Hussain Haqqani former Pakistan ambassador to the US. The commission’s report vindicated Army’s stand on the issue, and appreciated General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and former ISI chief General Ahmed Shuja Pasha for having withstood internal and external pressures for a just cause. During the tenure of former COAS General Raheel Sharif, only once civil-military relations came under stress when a private TV channel accused the ISI of being behind an attack on its anchor person. The then information minister Pervaiz Rashid had said “hum ghulail (catapult) walon ke naheen dalil walon ke sath hein.” It was unfortunate that world’s sixth largest army and 5th largest air force in the world armed with nuclear arsenal was described as ‘ghulail wale’. Since COAS General Qamar Bajwa took charge, there seemed to be complete understanding between civil and military leadership; but it was short-lived.
An exclusive news story by Cyril Almeida on national security aspects titled “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military,” was published in Dawn on 6th October 2016. The very title was provocative as if military was responsible for, what they said, isolation of Pakistan in the world. In such crucial times, when Pakistan is confronted with India’s jingoism and war mongering, a story showing rift between military and civilian leadership could have devastating effects on the minds of patriotic Pakistanis. International media, especially Indian media had given prominent space to the news story and molded it to further stir anti-Pakistan sentiment. One can infer that the original story was speculative and provocative to mislead the educated mass of the country, and to create mistrust amongst institutions and pillars of state. It was a mischief and an effort to bring army into disrepute.
There is a perception that government wants to establish civilian supremacy through these tactics. But to establish civilian supremacy, Parliament and the executive have to deliver to the people. The government had procrastinated in issuing the inquiry report on Dawn Leaks, and secondly Pakistan Army through ISPR tweet had rejected the notification vis-à-vis implementation of the Dawn Leaks report, as “it was incomplete and not in line with the recommendations by the inquiry board.” To cope with the storms gathering outside our borders against us, the nation needs a measure of internal unity and cohesion. But it is the wedges of stark fragmentation that the elites’ shenanigans are driving among the nation’s ranks. Polarisation and divisiveness are worrisomely in an upswing; cohesion is in a rapid retreat. Yet none among the elites seems to bother about it. They are zestfully keeping up with their divisive pursuits, absolutely unmindful of the dire consequences of their partisan politics and power games.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
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