Who makes up the establishment?

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi asks pertinent questions

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbaasi, Senior Vice-President of the PML(N) may well have differences with PML(N) supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif about the role of the latter’s daughter Maryam in the party, but he was forthright in his call for the judiciary to right wrongs done to Mian Nawaz in removing him from office, convicting him and sending the him to jail. Mr Abbasi, was addressing a press conference in Quetta on Sunday along with other speakers of the ‘National Dialogue on Re-imagining Pakistan’ seminar the day before. He managed to make a very deep observation: the establishment does not consist solely of the military, but requires the judiciary on board, as well as the civilian bureaucracy, and not giving passive approval, but actually actively participating.

The military becoming neutral only addresses part of the problem. The revelations now being made about how the COAS, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the DG ISI, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, helped Imran Khan become PM, and then maintain himself in office, show that it was not the military alone to blame for the ‘hybrid regime’. If the military did not have to impose martial law, it was because other organs of government were cooperating with it, not with the elected government.

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There is no easy solution to this. General Bajwa, when his second tenure was ending, did say that the military was now neutral, but similar protestations of neutrality have not been made by any other organs of state, and nor are they needed. Instead, a thorough investigation must be made, and the heads of all those organizations which have overstepped their constitutional limits must be brought to book. Until that is done, there is no other means of bringing interference to an end. There is no point making changes in the laws or even the Constitution. As bitter experience has shown, laws and constitutional provisions are ignored by individuals who want to get their own way, or smooth the path of someone who wants his. Only a desire to obey the law, a desire backed by the fear of punishment, can act as a barrier to the kind of extraconstitutional misadventure that has afflicted the country four times in the past, and has taken it down unfortunate hybrid sidelanes.

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


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