What is PML-N’s real stance on Army’s role in politics?

Published: 05:37 PM, 14 Nov, 2020
What is PML-N’s real stance on Army’s role in politics?
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Maryam Nawaz, the de facto boss of the PML-N in the absence of her father Nawaz Sharif (who is a convict and has been staying in London for the last one year), and party president Shehbaz Sharif (in NAB custody because of a number of corruption allegations against him), recently expressed serious reservations about various political leaders’ meeting with COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Gilgit-Baltistan issue. 

In an interview, she said the GB issue was political in nature because of which there was no justification for it to be discussed at the General Headquarters. 

But on Thursday she said in an interview to a foreign media outlet that her party was willing to talk to the Army provided the incumbent PTI government is shown the door. 

A day later (Friday), former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was just a ‘puppet’ playing in the hands of some elements and those pulling his strings would have to answer. 

Addressing a PML-N public gathering at Grassy Ground in Swat via video link, he said these elements would be held accountable one day for their injustices inflicted on the people of Pakistan through undemocratic actions.

While senior leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement continue to target PM Khan and his government, Mr Sharif’s latest speech indicates that he is not willing to shift the focus from senior members of the security establishment.  

Recalling the Karachi incident on the kidnapping of the Sindh police inspector general and the action ordered against some elements in the light of a decision of the court of inquiry, the ex-premier said General Qamar Bajwa had himself ordered an inquiry into the Karachi incident. “Now a statement was issued saying that officials of ISI and Sindh Rangers involved in the Karachi incident have been removed pending further departmental proceedings for acting overzealously,” he said, adding that the whole episode had proved his claim that there was a “state above the state”. 

“Gen Bajwa and [Lt] Gen Faiz formed a JIT of their choice, secured decisions of their choice as well, removed me from premiership and put me, Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and my party members in jail,” he said, alleging that their character assassination through media was still going on. 

He said he was not seeking answers from Prime Minister Khan but from those who had brought him to power. 

Maryam’s willingness to talk to the establishment and her father’s renewed assault on the military and ISI chiefs makes it difficult for the common man to understand what the PML-N really wants. 

In such a situation Maryam can be asked under what article of the Constitution she is asking the establishment to remove the PTI government when, according to her own assertion, it is not supposed to interfere in political matters.  

Does she want the Army to take October 12, 1999-like action to send the PTI government packing? 

Apparently, without repeating the 21-year-old action there is no other methodology available to the Army leadership to meet Maryam Nawaz’s demand and remove the incumbent setup. 

She should enlighten the nation by explaining her point of view how talks with an institution is possible which is being constantly targeted by her father. 

Another question arising from her interview is how can the Army hold talks on political matters with politicians from the platform of the PDM or the PML-N?

Yet another question is if Gen Bajwa and Gen Faiz will be acceptable to the PML-N and other PDM parties by doing what the PML-N vice-president wants them to do?  

What she said in her interview clearly means that the PML-N is not opposed to the military’s political role provided it is played to serve this party’s interests. 

But before expressing willingness to hold talks with the Army, she should also let the nation know as to who would hold these talks from the political side? Will she like to advise her father to return to the country to take part in the talks with the Army? There is no one more competent than her father to hold talks with the Army on its role in politics.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.