Trust deficit

Imran Khan’s call for an end to the Atrmy-civilian trust deficit sounds a little odd

PTI chief Imran Khan in his congratulatory message to new COAS Gen Asim Munir has expressed the hope that he would help reduce the trust deficit between the military and the civilians. This would have been an anodyne statement, had it been expressed by any other political leader, but considering the fuss that he himself made over the Army’s turning neutral, he cannot mean simply that the military should stay out of politics. It has been Mr Khan and the PTI, which has engaged in unprecedented attacks on the outgoing COAS, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, even before his pre-retirement admission that the Army had decided to withdraw from politics, which was also an admission that it had been involved. That involvement had benefited Khan initially, and he had boasted with great frequency of being on the ‘same page’ with the military.

Mr Khan may have indeed followed in the path of previous politicians, who had leaned on the military for support, but he had introduced the concept of the military delivering parliamentary majorities on vital legislation and of sweeping up after him when his willful behaviour had spoiled relations with foreign powers. Indeed, it could be said that by involving the military in areas they had not previously entered, he had played a very significant in developing that deficit. The relentless campaign against the Army which had started with his government’s ouster, and which was provided focus by the attacks on General Bajwa, played an important role in developing the trust deficit. It seems Mr Khan is asking the new COAS to do something his predecessor had to do frequently, which is to clean up the mess he had created.

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The elimination of the trust deficit is actually the very opposite of what Mr Khan has aimed for. It will be eliminated when military rule is not even considered, and no politician even bothers contacting the military, and the government does not assume anything but complete obedience to legal orders by to the military, then the trust deficit will stand eliminated. It does not mean, as Mr Khan seems to think, that the COAS should press the government to hold fresh elections, or that his institution should work to bring anyone to power. Unfortunately, though his recent ‘Long March’ did not achieve any of its objectives, Mr Khan does not seem to have given up on the dream of getting back to power, even if the cost is a renewal of the trust deficit.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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