Fallen standards  | Pakistan Today

Fallen standards 

  • The Bajwa extension exposed a mess

Standards in public life have decayed over time…incompetence is the norm.                

-Jed Mercurio

Governance here is like a disastrous musical performance with the instruments twanging, clashing, and shrieking out of turn in an attempt to cover the fact that the singers haven’t a clue of the words or the tune. And nothing made the performers’ ineptitude more obvious than the recent fiasco regarding the COAS’s extension, although the brouhaha surrounding Nawaz Sharif’s leaving the country achieved almost as much.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s throwaway statement a year ago about legislating by means of ordinances was probably the only time he did not execute a u-turn, because now the government is further down that path and in the case of the COAS’s extension acting first and then promising to come up with legislation to make their actions legal at a later date. Should the country’s Supreme Court have allowed this? The Prime Minister could have been called to account for his extremely unprofessional announcement of this extension, but he was not; the Supreme Court has allowed the extension to go through for an initial period of six months.  By doing so they set a precedent for further such transgressions, but then again, perhaps by doing so they managed to prevent the matter from escalating into an even bigger and more humiliating state of affairs.

Will our leaders ever learn? It appears extremely doubtful. What made us think IK would be any different?

In fact the COAS and the PM could both have been asked to explain why the extension was so crucial. Does this pushed-through extension mean that the Pakistan Army cannot produce another person competent enough to fill the current boots? That is doubtful since the top brass in the army appears to be of …er… more or less the same calibre. There should have been no problem there. So what is it? Has no one else been groomed and to deal with the tense situations on Pakistan’s borders, its ‘regional security environment’? If that is the case, what does that say about the leadership in the Pakistan Army and its dedication to smooth transitions, and to the nation it serves? And since no one can be in office indefinitely, in what position does that put whoever comes next? Not to mention that it would be good to know what makes the current COAS so important to the present government. Is the government itself not competent enough? To function without this COAS, that is?

You wonder if the PM even knows…well he probably knows now (we hope), but when he blew in with his bald statement concerning General Bajwa’s extension, did he know then that it is the President of the country who appoints the COAS, that it is the President who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces? See Article 243 of the Pakistan Constitution. You wonder if the PM or anyone in his government has read the Pakistan Constitution. If so, surely the letter announcing the COAS’s extension would have reflected this.

The leaders of the country appear to be playing some kind of a dance. When in 2016 Nawaz Sharif who was then the Prime Minister offered Gen Raheel Sharif an extension, Imran Khan– then in the opposition– criticized the move and accused Mr. Sharif of being afraid of the Army. Does that apply to Mr Imran Khan now? When General Sharif refused the extension Mr. Khan praised him, saying the nation respected him for his decision. If that was the case, you wonder what the nation thinks of General Bajwa now for accepting his extension, especially given that the nation finds itself in this imbroglio as a result.

The PPP also, during its tenure, gave Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani a three year extension, but now its representatives have criticized Imran Khan for General Bajwa’s extension.

Is it possible that politicians suffer from irreversible memory loss, and/or chronic inability to keep their heads down and get on with their job? Does either of those things make them incompetent to be appointed to positions in government?

It is interesting to conjecture what happens if this government is unable come up with the promised legislation regarding the extension/reappointment of an Army Chief within the stipulated time of six months, legislation that would give General Bajwa’s extension beyond six months a legal stamp of approval. Will the Army Chief be out then? Somehow, that does not seem likely given the ‘yes sir’ relation between the armed forces and Pakistan’s civilian authorities.

Will our leaders ever learn? It appears extremely doubtful. What made us think IK would be any different?

Rabia Ahmed

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/