Some prerequisites for PDM’s demands
Nobody believing in the supremacy of the Constitution can disagree with the assertion that the army should have no role in governance and that running the country falls in the exclusive jurisdiction of the elected governments. The army is an important institution responsible for defending the country in all situations and supposed to perform the role assigned to it by the incumbent governments in certain eventualities.
But before calling for bringing an end to the army’s alleged involvement in governance the leaders of the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement must see the conduciveness of the timing and credentials of those behind this demand.
The strategy worked out by the backers of this idea should also be a prime consideration.
PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman had recently released a Charter of Pakistan with the approval of alliance components which, among other things, called for ensuring supremacy and protection of federal, democratic, parliamentary and Islamic constitution's supremacy; independence of parliament; distancing establishment and intelligence agencies from politics; establishing an independent judiciary; and reforms for free and fair elections.
Barring any unforeseen situation, for the achievement of these goals the PDM plans to stage a protest in front of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on January 19.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had lost election on both the NA seats in 2018, calls the current system as “undeclared martial law”. In his opinion the proposed long march should be on Rawalpindi, where the army’s headquarters is located, not Islamabad.
Though he said the army was a respectable institution it would have to stay neutral. If it is supporting the Imran government, the opposition has the right to go to Rawalpindi and protest, he argued.
On the other hand, the army’s spokesperson says the army is an institution that works under the government. It has no political role to perform, he clarified, urging politicians not to drag the institution into this arena.
As for the PDM president’s plan to go to Rawalpindi, Gen Babar Iftikhar said it was totally uncalled for. However, he said in a light vein that if the alliance chief did come he would be entertained with tea.
The strategy worked out by the opposition parties for the attainment of its objectives appears to be flawed. For such a mission all political parties should be on the same page.
This means the ruling PTI and the opposition parties should speak with one voice. They should also evolve a joint strategy to achieve the target.
But, as of now, the PTI doesn’t agree with the opposition’s allegation that the army is interfering in governance. Since it sees no army interference in governance it feels no need to join hands with the opposition.
Disunited political parties can’t do what they want to.
The political parties would also have to address the nature and factors responsible for the alleged interference.
For example, it is an undeniable fact that there are many families that have worked in the past as teammates of the military regimes. While working for these regimes they have been arguing that they are paving the way for the restoration of democracy.
Such families include those of leaders who have now become revolutionaries in their thinking.
Propriety demands that these leaders should tender unqualified apology to the nation for working with the military regimes in the past. Also, they should pledge never ever to do this in the future in any situation.
Then the political parties should also keep in mind that there are families whose members have divided loyalties with rival parties. One family member works with one party and the other with a rival entity. Thus, they enjoy power whichever party comes to power by whatever means.
Such a split is a strategic move, aimed at getting political dividends in all situations.
This curse should also be addressed by those claiming to be working for a pure democratic system.
The examples of Miftah Ismail (PML-N) and Imran Ismail (PTI) and Asad Umar (PTI) and Muhammad Zubair (PML-N) should explain the point.
There are many other families who can play any role for the military.
It is hard to believe that these families are deeply ideological that they cannot iron out their differences.
Another point worth considering is the credentials of supporters of the ‘pure’ democratic rule.
Maybe it is just a coincidence that most of them are facing corruption charges and they are offering no proofs of their innocence.
Needless to point out that there is no room for corruption in a political system whether the army is part of it or not.
Once these leaders prove their innocence their struggle for a pure democratic system would be taken as a sincere move, in the best national interest.
But those spearheading the new cause without clearing their position on the corruption charges against them will certainly appear to be diverting public attention from a variety of cases against them.