Take-no-dictation moment? | Pakistan Today

Take-no-dictation moment?

Now, eyeball to eyeball

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani – usually soft spoken and compromise-seeking – thunderously declaring “there can be no state within a state” has raised alarm bells. Has the military and the civilian setup reached a point of no compromise? An elected prime minister having the audacity of telling an increasingly obtrusive military and the ISI leadership to fall in line has few precedents in our chequered political history.

Has the ‘take no dictation’ moment arrived for Gilani as it did for Nawaz Sharif who took on a meddlesome President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in April 1993 by taking the nation on board in a hard hitting nationally televised speech? Sharif was dismissed the same evening by a president armed with Article 58-2(b) of the Constitution.

Not quite the same thing is bound to happen now. At that time, the military establishment and the president, both tired of Sharif’s shenanigans, were on the same page. Quite the opposite situation now. This time around, contrary to speculations, the president and the prime minister are on the same page regarding the military.

The minus one formula that was being touted in some circles is not going to work. If the war gamers are hoping that the Supreme Court will wash their dirty linen by moving against Zardari and paving the way for his dismissal, it is not going to easily happen.

The PPP, after kowtowing to the military establishment to the point of being accused of obsequiousness, has decided to fight back politically. Babar Awan’s (the official court jester) fulminations against the apex court are part of a bigger game plan. The situation will be clearer on Tuesday when President Zardari is expected to go public at late Benazir Bhutto’s fourth death anniversary at Naudero.

There is no easy way of ousting Zardari and Gilani and keeping the constitution intact. In the good old days, all army chief General Waheed Kakar had to do was to call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif giving him a polite ultimatum to resign and advising the president to do the same. The matter was resolved within forty eight hours. Both the president and the prime minister sent packing, a new caretaker government under a US citizen was formed and engineered elections heavily loaded against Sharif were held.

Things are no longer that simple. At that time, politics was a zero-sum game with the opposition willing to get rid of the sitting government even if it meant sleeping with the enemy. No longer so.

Zardari is defiant and not quite ready to throw in the towel and go home. He will play the Sindh card if he is forced to. As for Sharif, he does not trust the military, nor is he their favourite horse, as he was once upon a time.

The question which begs an answer however is why did Sharif append his name to a petition in the Supreme Court which is being blatantly used as an instrument to nail the PPP government. Is it another example of the PML(N) supremo never thinking through the consequences of his actions? A PTI leader close to Imran unconvincingly claims that the petition had been lying with them a few days. After their refusal to file it, Nawaz was chosen for the job.

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has announced his party’s support for Gilani in the parliament, declaring that the PML(N) would oppose any undemocratic move against the government or the parliament. Sharif will have to decide quickly where does he stand? Whether he is with the democratic forces or against them.

It is obvious that his political interests and that of the military establishment coincide where the Senate elections not being held on PPP’s watch is concerned. These elections, like in the past, have been made into an unnecessary watershed.

The PPP and its coalition partner’s majority in these elections is not assured. Even if it is able to eke out a majority, in this age of a fiercely independent superior judiciary and an intrusive media, the coalition government is in no position to bring about any unilateral change in the constitution.

PML(N) wants early elections before Imran Khan further erodes into its constituency. On the other hand, the PTI chief thinks he is prime minister in waiting. He needs more time to get more electable candidates on board and elections under fresh electoral rolls to co-opt fresh voters.

It is axiomatic that the interest of the mainstream parties lies in maintaining the status quo. None of them would want the apple cart to be upset by an ISI engineered change directly or indirectly. This does not of course include the religious right recently re-launched by the establishment.

With the affidavits placed before the apex court by Generals Kayani and Pasha, it has become amply clear that the military and civilian leadership are not on the same page on the Memo issue. The DG ISI has denied having visited some Arab capitals to pave way for a coup against Zardari. The information is based on a BBM whose author is the same Mansoor Ijaz who claims that Haqqani dictated the memo to him on Zardari’s orders. It is being said that efforts are afoot to turn Haqqani into a Masood Mehmood but that is a far cry from reality. The times are different now and Mr Haqqani is no Masood Mehmood.

Judging by his past record and purely on the basis of his credibility, Mansoor Ijaz’ claims are dubious to say the least. It is for the apex court to decide whether they can withstand legal scrutiny.

The Supreme Court has also to deal with the defence ministry’s written reply in the memo case in which it has stated that it has no operational control over the military or the ISI. As the ultimate interpreter of the constitution, the exalted judges should give a verdict: Who is supreme? The military or the civilian government and the parliament?

Under a democratic dispensation, the answer is (or should be) obvious. But ground realities in Pakistan are different where the military has perennially suffered from a messiah complex bordering on Bonapartism.

As is evident from Memogate, the malaise has become more acute. The memo case has opened a can of worms pitting the military and the civilian dispensation in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation. If not arrested, this will have unpredictable but definitely unfortunate consequences. Perhaps our honourable judges can play an honourable role, a clear break from the past!

The writer is Editor, Pakistan Today



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18 Comments

  1. Kamal said:

    It is Pakistan Army who is ruling the country with an iron fist since 1947. It has looted 70% wealth of poor Pakistani people It gave back three lost wars, propaganda by controlling media and poverty.

  2. Shahid said:

    Great, Nizami Sahib, very realistic and comperhensive analysis of recent happenings.

  3. rafiq said:

    very nice, exhaustive study of the situation ,very well advised.

  4. Najam said:

    Nizami Sahab, time has come that power should be transferred to People of Pakistan from Army. It is Pakistan Army who is ruling the country with an iron fist since 1947. It has looted 70% wealth of poor Pakistani people It gave back three lost wars, propaganda by controlling media and poverty. The Indian Army is under civilian control. That is why India is prospering today.

    Let us correct historical records. Thanks to internet! Now we can talk.

    1.The assassination of two best elected PMs by Pakistan Army:
    Liaquat Ali Khan was killed in a failed military coup staged by then Generals. Bhutto was killed by a sham court trial controlled by General Zia.

    2.Breaking of Pakistan into two pieces (1971) by Army:
    Pakistan Army was ruling the country for 13 years. How anyone else can be blamed? Mujeeb who spoke about provincial autonomy only up to March 1971, declared complete separation after Pakistan Army officially used rape of Bengali women as an instrument of war. Visit Dhaka Libration Museum if you have doubts.

    3.Start of 1965 War by Army:
    Ayub Khan was ruling the country with an iron fist. No matter who were his advisors, Ayub Khan is responsible for starting the 1965 war and death of over 20 thousand innocent soldiers. We cannot celebrate 6th Sept as Defense Day. It should be remembered as an Offense Day.

    4.How we don’t know about this black face of Pakistan Army in 64 years?
    Because Media is controlled 100% by Army’s ISPR department So we can read about the girlfriend of an elected President. But people will never read/hear about the girlfriend of a Core Commander or Chief of Army Staff. We often read/hear that a Politician, Police officer, Customs officer is corrupt. Have we ever read/heard that an Army Officer is corrupt? It shows how media is controlled by Army. It is the real boss in Pakistan.

    Enough is enough. Power should be handed over to People of Pakistan now.

  5. Amjad Cheema said:

    Unfortunately these judges have not learned from history & bent on to play eatablishment role.

  6. tariq khan said:

    Arif Nizami Sahib: You are deep into the rug of the thugs. Please be courageous and expose the real truth, well mknown to you. Thanks for this analysis a little close to the dirty situation in Pakistan.
    Request please write the truth about the dual nationality issue plus, overseas Pakistani and the assets of the Pakistanis in other ountries.

  7. Tariq said:

    This author is acting as a loudspeaker for PPP. The PM is a frustrated man and his childish out brust shows there is something fishy. This outburst will not bring him and others in PPP off the hook. Most in PPP are corrupt and ghadaar people. It’s about time to bring these people to task. PPP has brought so much misrey for the people pf pakistan. Their days are numbered.

    • Amjad Cheema said:

      OK vote them out if u can, otherwise stop this superior human being culture!
      I myself will vote for this 'shaitan party' against your 'angels party'

      • Tariq said:

        You are absolutley correct in stating that a shaitan can only vote for a shaitan. No doubt about it.

        Al Quran 13:11) "Verily, God does not change the state of a People until they change themselves."

  8. pirah said:

    very well written article ….. inorder to strengthen the democracy it is in best interest to let this government complete its tenure and let the people oust them out with their votes ….. we definately don't want army intervention.

  9. Malik Tariq said:

    Good Analysis. The ground realities have changed a lot, with the army no longer having any support from the masses to topple an elected democratic setup. However the PPP government has to blame itself for depriving the party of a popular support base it inherited after Mohtarma's assasination. They had four years, with all the power and an opposition willing to give them space, yet all they did was loot and plunder, poor governance and act like despots. If only they had delivered to the people, this party would not have been harmed, the way it has been wounded today.

  10. observer from UK said:

    I agree with Nizami that there is no need to take dictation from the jackboots. The military has not learnt lessons fro the history. This is due to the fact the present PPP is a weak government and sadly devoid of a good governance. This is crucial time for the present government to assert its authority and reign in these loose cannons occupying military headquarters and playing politics rather than concentrating on their professional capabilities which are disappointingly poor considering two big incidents in the recent past. If the military can not detect the intruders then what could you expect from them.

  11. Moeen Salahuddin said:

    Arif Nizami is absolutely right. The army leadership should accept civilian supremacy wholeheartedly and let us move on. The Prime minister should replace the COAS and the ISI heads as they have become controversial and in any case have had very long tenures. The rank and file of the armed forces wish it too. Some people have started making a simple issue of governance into an emotive one. Why should a PM suffer a government servant with whom he has difficulties. The matter should be routine.

  12. Naeem Alvi said:

    Very nice and pragmatically written, only masses can change the whole situation by using their right of voting….. It is slow but political change is always late and sustainable but not impossible.

  13. Naeem Alvi said:

    Very nice article….. Very pragmatically written…. as per the present situation now only masses can bring the change by using their right of vote…Constitutional and political change is always slow ans sustainable but not impossible…

  14. http://www.kael.se/readnew.asp?p=37 said:

    In January of 2011, the NGO Journalists with the Future submitted an open up letter on behalf with the Voice of Silence group of young Armenians with hearing problems to Grigor Amalyan, president with the Nationwide Fee on Television and Radio in Armenia. They pointed out which the correct of Armenia 3,500 registered deaf citizens to equal usage of information and facts was currently being violated and questioned whether the stations that received electronic broadcasting licenses would offer parallel signal language translation of their information courses. Amalyan reaction said that stations wouldn’t be mandated to offer signal language translation of news courses because information is available to deaf most people by means of shut captioning.
    http://www.kael.se/readnew.asp?p=37 http://www.kael.se/readnew.asp?p=37

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