PM sees no end to army’s role in politics as civil institutions struggle

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar affirmed on Tuesday that the military will continue to play a significant role in the country’s politics unless civil institutions bolster their organisational capabilities.

This persistent imbalance prompts military interventions in the daily affairs of the government, Kakar stated during an interview with TRT World.

Kakar attributed this lopsided civil-military relationship to the long-standing deficiencies in civilian institutions over the past four decades. Whether it is education, healthcare, disaster management, or tax collection, he emphasised that civilians often turn to the army as a last resort to resolve pressing issues.

The interim PM accused the country’s political leadership of cultivating ties with the military for personal gain and political power. He criticised them for adopting a convenient and expedient approach, blaming the army for their failures when out of power, thereby perpetuating the perceived civil-military imbalance.

Kakar stressed that to rectify this imbalance and prevent further military intervention in government affairs, civil institutions must enhance their capabilities rather than weakening the organisational strength of the army.

When asked if the disciplined military would continue to be a political force in Pakistan’s near future, Kakar unequivocally affirmed, “In practice, honestly speaking and considering the ground realities, the answer is yes.”

The interim PM also pledged to oversee fair and transparent elections, vowing to prevent interference from any institution in favour of a particular political party. He displayed indifference towards concerns about potential election delays due to the extension of the delimitation exercise beyond the constitutional deadline following the dissolution of the National Assembly. According to Kakar, this task was a legislative requirement.

Kakar’s statements came in response to the 2023 Digital Census findings ratified by the Council of Common Interest (CCI), which endorsed the final national headcount in August. Per Section 17(2) of the Elections Act, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is obligated to delimit constituencies after each census publication.

Notably, this census notification coincided with the impending dissolution of the National Assembly. However, many legal experts argue that the Constitution takes precedence over parliamentary acts.

Consequently, when the National Assembly was dissolved prematurely by the president on the prime minister’s advice, the Constitution mandates that national polls must occur within 90 days.

Kakar also addressed protests by supporters of Imran Khan, stating that peaceful protests were a fundamental democratic right that the government would protect for any political party, whether it be Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or Pakistan Peoples Party. He emphasised, however, that any form of vandalism in the name of protest would not be tolerated.

Regarding alleged US involvement in Imran Khan’s ouster, Kakar dismissed it as a conspiracy theory for public consumption.

He emphasised that the caretaker government ensured that no external power, including the United States, meddled in Pakistan’s domestic affairs. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s sovereignty and described Khan’s removal as “lawful”, carried out constitutionally and without a military coup.

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