Not one to play up internal conflicts or give sweeping statements, Senator Raza Rabbani made an exception on Saturday as he emphasised on the need for “proper and meaningful” consultations between the military and other state institutions.
“Our military is a very important state organ to safeguard national security, but it should come under the purview of parliament and democratically-elected people as mentioned in the Constitution. Military men overthrowing democratic governments should not be supported at all,” Rabbani told members of the Youth Parliament.
Tossing aside the idea of setting up an institution for national security, Rabbani maintained that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) should be scrapped as it was the brainchild of a military dictator. He added that instead of establishing a parallel body, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) should be powerful enough to deliberate over such matters.
Rabbani also strongly critisised the military leadership for holding meetings with foreign diplomats. He said he had raised the issue a week earlier, but has not yet received a response from either the government or the army.
“Foreign envoys recently met army officials including intelligence chiefs, which is not a good sign in the broader view,” said the PPP parliamentarian.
“The army surely has its own views regarding national security, but these can be exchanged with military officials of other countries, not with civilians. The military should speak through the civilian leadership with foreign civilian leaders.”
Giving the examples of other nations, Rabbani said armies and judiciaries across the world abstain from such intimations to avoid criticism.
While articulating concerns that some elements were trying to revoke the 18th Amendment, Rabbani said the clause was here to stay as the masses were in favour of it. He added that the Amendment bridged the gap between the federation and the provinces.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.