Civilian, assert thyself. Or not.
Gilani has gone back on his stand that the military leadership had violated the constitution and rules of business by submitting their statements in the memo case without proper vetting. The remarks had caused grave concern in the higher military echelons. The army spokesman had issued a press release warning of ‘very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.’ The difference between the government and the army leadership on the existence of the memo meanwhile remains intact. The former considers it a figment of Mansoor Ijaz’s imagination, while the latter maintains that it is a reality. What the statement by the PM has done is to relieve some of the tensions generated by his earlier remarks.
Whatever Gilani has said in fact amounts to papering over the cracks. There was a general perception in the army circles that the civilians are corrupt and don’t have the ability to run the country and that the army alone is the institution that can keep the country together and lead it to economic progress. These claim were made despite the separation of East Pakistan and the loss of Siachen under two military rulers. Lack of timely action to generate more power by Zia and Musharraf has caused shortages that continue to bleed the economy. The shenanigans on the part of the politicians too have contributed to the downfall of civilian governments. Civilian rules have often been characterised by bad governance, insensitivity to the problems faced by the people and unending infighting among political parties. Unless the politicians learn respect for the law and deliver on their promises, military takeovers will remain a threat. The more the politicians show their capacity for good governance, the lesser the possibility of direct or indirect military rule.
Within months, a caretaker government would be in place. Gilani can proudly claim that he is the PM with the longest tenure. One hopes that the new government which takes over after the elections will learn from the past. It will have to practice good governance, pay attention to resolving people’s problems, and thus earn the moral authority to rule which alone is the guarantee against military takeover.