Clash of institutions is dangerous
Mohammad Jamil


At this point in time, when internally the nation is being tormented by militancy; economy is in dire straits; and externally powerful forces are looking at it maliciously and viciously, the clash between the institutions can be disastrous. After February 2008 elections, people had expected that the Parliament, Judiciary and Executive - pillars of the state – would work within the parameters drawn in the Constitution, but they have been trying to assert power and claim supremacy. Parliament says it is supreme. Judiciary considers itself as the most important pillar of the state, and believes that it could strike down any article of the constitution that contravenes the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. There is no denying that President Zardari has an image problem. There are also cases of corruption against some of his party stalwarts and bureaucrats supposed to be reopened after the NRO was declared by the apex court as void ab initio. Constitutional experts are, however, divided over immunity given to the President under Article 248 of the Constitution. One group says that he has to go to the court to claim immunity, while others believe that this immunity is inherent in the Constitution and needs no interpretation.

In addition to Parliament-Judiciary standoff, efforts are being made to drag military into politics, and fears are being raised by some unconscionable elements about wrapping of the democratic setup. Apart from that, during proceedings of missing persons’ case, a judge of the apex court remarked that behind every third missing person FC’s name is taken. After the killing of 7 mine workers, a judge of the apex court is reported to have said that nobody is working to ward off situation in Balochistan including the ISI and MI. It was perhaps in this backdrop a renowned analysts and columnist Salim Safi, in his article captioned ‘Balochistan: tassawarat and haqaiq’ stated: “You can go to the court against the state institutions, but judiciary has no control over non-state actors; and it is scared of them like other sections of society.

On Balochistan issue, Supreme Court called the IG FC, but it could do nothing against Baloch militant leaders sitting abroad or their activists that are active in Balochistan…Life of a Balochi is as precious as any other Pakistani. For a mother, his son is entire universe for her. We must mourn on his murder or disappearance. But the question is whether FC soldier is not somebody’s son? How the mothers of those innocent mine workers would have felt over their killings? What is the crime of innocent abadkar teachers, cobblers and workers serving Balochistan? And why it is crime to raise voice for their rights?” Recently, Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has taken exception to the remarks from the Supreme Court judge that the PML-N should not have staged a walkout and strongly argued against the contempt of court law on the floor of the assembly. The language used by the critic against judiciary was indeed acerbic. Though the present military leadership has stayed away from internecine conflicts between the political parties, yet politicos, analysts and panelists are criticizing the military for intervening in the political affairs. They expect from the military not to interfere even when there is anarchy in the country or external threat to its security. In the US, Britain and even in India - arguably the largest democracy in the world - political leaderships take decisions on the basis of the information provided by intelligence agencies and advice of military leadership. It would be appropriate to refer to the difference of opinion between the Indian Prime Minister and military over Siachen. The difference of opinion between Obama administration and the Pentagon is also a case in point – the former wants to complete withdrawal by 2014 but Generals insist that troops may stay much beyond 2014.

Outgoing US ambassador to Afghanistan Ryon Crocker has recently said that despite drawdown significant forces would stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, which means that military’s point of view has prevailed. It appears that US forces will remain in Afghanistan much beyond 2014. Political leadership in Pakistan should reconcile with the idea that military does have a role in the matters of internal and external security, and has the right to give its assessment of threats to internal and external security. Those politicians who want to give military personnel as status of a chowkidar should come out of stupor and face the reality on ground. In fact, after French Revolution and in the days of Napoleonic warfare, tight formations of fighting men, aiming and firing in precise unison were crucial to victory on the battlefield. As such, military professionalism owes its origin to that era; however today it means discipline, commitment and skill of armed services personnel. By the end of the eighteenth century, tools of production changed due to Industrial Revolution, which gave rise to new concepts like capitalism.

Since the state became more complex, there was need for dichotomy of powers between various organs of the state, which passing through various stages was defined in the constitution. Today, all countries of the world have professional armies to protect their borders and also to ensure law and order internally, as it is the responsibility of the government to establish the writ of the state and protect the lives and properties of the people. Max Weber in his treatise ‘What is politics’ stated: “A state is a human community that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a given territory”. Samuel P Huntington in his book titled ‘The soldier and the state: the theory and politics of civil-military’ wrote: “A state can achieve little by diplomacy unless it has the strength and the will to back up its demands with force”. But Pakistani politicos, intellectuals and civil society do not understand that nowhere in the world, the armed forces and agencies are criticized, demonized or demoralized, as some pseudo-intellectuals and palmed off media men do.