A welcome change

Published: October 13, 2011

The army's role essentially as a force that follows orders from the representatives elected by the people, who must at all times, hold the reins of command in their hands. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Small matters can sometimes lead to big changes. In some ways, the refusal by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and now the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence to attend a briefing at the GHQ on the military operation in tribal areas, seems like a trivial matter. But the issue runs much deeper than that and must be seen against the backdrop of our history, with so many years since 1947 dominated by military rule. This is the past which we need to leave behind, and that can happen only if the notion that parliament is sovereign and is the decision maker in all policies is embedded deeply in the minds of the public. At the moment, confusion on the issue still seems to persist in many places and in many minds.

The view expressed by members of the committees that in democratic countries military men should visit parliament and not the other way round, is a valid one. This refusal signals a growing confidence on the part of elected law-makers and a realisation that real authority should rest with them. This is an extremely welcome development. We have waited far too long for it to come. The roles of various institutions are quite clearly spelled out in the Constitution. It is high time that these were adhered to — both in letter and in spirit.

Today, we stand at a turning point in the course of our democratic development. We need to ensure that we continue along the right road. The GHQ briefing sessions have for now been cancelled. If they are to be held in the future, there appears to be little reason why they cannot be conducted in parliament. Such symbolism is in many ways crucial. It is also important that we get used to the idea that the men in uniform should not be deciding what we do as a nation, but instead playing their role essentially as a force that follows orders from the representatives elected by the people, who must at all times, hold the reins of command in their hands. This process it seems has begun.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2011. 

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Dr Sohail Mahmood
    Oct 14, 2011 - 12:43AM

    Pleasantly surprising move indeed. Nonetheless, definitely the right one. The Army brass still calls the shots in the Islamic Republic though. Politicians are too timid to take on the military establishment. The Gilani Government is corrupt and weakened because of bad governance. It simply does not have the capacity to direct the country or the military. Very unfortunate for the country. Yet, very true also. Anyways, the move is welcome indeed. The political leadership now must assert itself vis-i -Vis the military brass. The Army is a service of the state responsible for defense of the country only. It has no business in ruling the country. That must be clear to all. The politicians did the right thing. Let the generals come to an in camera session of the said committee and inform whatever. There must be no compromise on the basic premise of civilian superiority over the miliatry. Let the process begin. Best of luck to our civilian rulers. Another advice to them: Get your act together first. Gain the trust and love of the people by doing your own job rightly. Only then, can this move mean something significant. Unless and until, Pakistan is provided with good governance such moves will not matter really.Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Oct 14, 2011 - 1:15AM

    Excellent Editorial

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  • Adeel7
    Oct 14, 2011 - 7:04AM

    Democracy takes roots with time. March has begun.

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  • Abdul Jabbar
    Oct 14, 2011 - 7:59PM

    Course correction for Pakistan must come peacefully from within. No state can survive with so many armed violent groups roaming the land and targeting whoever they chose. The preaching of violence in public spaces against perceived enemies must be immediately controlled. The State machinery needs major overhauling to root out terrorist sympathizers and this needs to start with the Military and Police followed by the Bureaucracy. The educational curriculum has to be rewritten by enlightened educationists so that students are encouraged to find solutions by questioning and challenging every hypothesis. Time and Money are both running out as rapidly as is the Worlds patience. Follow the dictum “do not leave for tomorrow what can be done today.”

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  • Oct 19, 2011 - 12:51PM

    GHQ should send Colonel + Captain Team to brief them keeping in view their level of interest, mental capabilities, power of comprehensive and understanding of the matters of National & Strategic Importance.

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