The military statement released by ISPR on its website on January 11 spoke of many things. One point in particular was jarring. To quote: “Allegiance to State and the Constitution is and will always remain prime consideration for the Respondent, who in this case has followed the book.” — the respondents being the army chief and the head of the ISI, in the memogate case before the Supreme Court. The first question that comes to mind as one reads this is that did the military’s actions in 1958, 1977 and 1999 also reflect an “allegiance to State and the Constitution”. Is not a former army chief on record as having said that the Constitution was a mere piece of paper? Hasn’t Pakistan been ruled for over half of its existence by military dictators and did it come out any better during the time they were in charge? Does not the Constitution clearly state that the military is to be subservient to the elected government and that its constitutional mandate is guard the country’s physical boundaries and to act as directed by the executive organ of the state? Yes, the executive organ may not be performing well on its own front, i.e. of delivering good governance to the electorate, but as per the Constitution, the call is not for any other institution to make, and that the only constitutional recourse to getting rid of a government that does not do well is to conduct an election. The electorate can then decide that government’s future and vote it out.
The ISPR statement also said that the “allegations” against the army chief and the head of the ISI made by the prime minister in his interview to the Chinese People’s Daily Online, and circulated by the state-owned news agency APP, could have “very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the Country”. A plain reading of this would see this as a clear threat to the PPP-led government, that it should fall in line or risk being booted out. No wonder, after the prime minister sacked the defence secretary, for “gross misconduct and illegal action” and after this statement appeared on ISPR’s website, many Pakistanis began to wonder whether a coup was imminent. The fact of the matter is that the prime minister is well within his rights if he wishes to sack the defence secretary, who is one of several federal secretaries serving the government of Pakistan. Though the details of why he has been fired from his job were not made clear, it is assumed that this would have to do with a statement he made some days ago before the Supreme Court in the memogate case where it was said that though the armed forces fell under the defence ministry’s jurisdiction, the ministry had no control over them.
It has to be said that the military’s practice of playing to the gallery by issuing seemingly self-righteous press statements, to assert its independence from the executive, is unfortunate. Such statements were issued to the press in the past as well: to clarify the telephone call that the army chief made to the president when the latter was convalescing recently in Dubai; during the heated debate on the Kerry-Lugar Bill and the clauses contained in it that would have diverted more US aid to Pakistan for civilian needs, and following revelation in a British newspaper that Mansoor Ijaz’s transcripts had suggested that the DG ISI was travelling to Arab states to garner support for a change in the government.
The executive, that is the prime minister, is the elected head of the government and serves at the pleasure of parliament, which in turn means that he serves at the pleasure of the people of Pakistan. This role is not for the military’s to appropriate — or should one use the term ‘usurp’? — to itself, by referring to acting in the national interest. This is to necessarily suggest that an elected civilian government is not in the national interest, certainly not the one which tries to assert itself against the military’s might. One doesn’t like to end editorials, or begin them, with quotes from dead people, but perhaps here it is opportune: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2012.
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if there is any possibility of military takeover, i am requesting Pakistan army 'please do not make fool the nation any more.
@John: - john, im part indian and european - now please go lift those 400 million indians ( double the population of the whole of pakistan ) who are living in horrific conditions out of the misery of extreme poverty, please ? instead of bragging to our pakistani brothers on HT ?
@Abbas from the US: Agree. But unfortunately this brainless mob have short memory and will support military coup. For them democracy is the cause of all social ills.
We Indians have defeated polio and moving on, and you guys are still talking about coup... huh....
literally it is not fair to make Gen. Kyani responsible for any policy conducted by Gen. Zia or others, but taking a military coup against current government is going to make these politicians martyrs in the eyes of public again. This government should complete its tenure and let the electorate decide about their fate in the coming elections.
Bye bye, land of the pure.
Congratulations! you have fooled us all!
A very fine editorial by ET. It so appears there will be no coup since the COAS has been quite discreet and not made any vague statement to suggest that this would take place. On the contrary Gilani has made indiscreet remarks and some of his actions were un-necessary which appears to have been done based on consipiracy rumours.
@American Desi: or you can say 'Stockholm Syndrome'
Why not? i think they coup and hold elections in 90 days. Uncertianity is bad and also the tussles have been going on for more than 2 years.
@Shahbaz Khan: He was Musharaf's right hand man, was heading ISI and was directly involved in NRO negotiations.
ET, I am sorry to say that there's a stark difference between your editorial and the one appeared in the Urdu daily of your group. Why can't your group have a standard editorial polity for both english and urdu editions ?
@Mardako Khan. I highly endorse your comments. Yasser N.
@Hu Jintao: Who will give the guarantee whether it will be 30days or 3000 days?????
In any other democratic country the armychief & Interlligence chief should have lost their job after the Abottabad incident. But pakistan is still far away from a democratic country. Also memogate should not have happened If it is true?
We have been taking one step forward and two backward that is the reason why we have such incompetent government inplace.Had all the previous governments completed there tenure we would have been able to clean the political arena of corrupt politions.Country has paid a huge price for democracy.The end is in our sight and the only way forward is that the current goverment should complete there tenure and go for a pubic appraisal of there performance through elections.
People of Pakistan will do justice at the next ballot...
The army should either abide by the civilians or it should lead as a dictator, but try to running the show by installing proxies as civilians will lead the state to a failed one, in Pakistan's case, 'Failed Nuclear State', which won't be tolerated by international community including the all weather friend China.
@Umer.... ???????? what do u mean :S????
No more "A" please. We have tried "A" and we are not satisfied. They should be taking care of country against enemies not own people. I think they should do their job what they pay for.
I am no friend of PPP government but we must understand that we are very near fresh mandate. With very little pressure people can force this government to dissolve assembly and hold elections. If PPP government is removed democratically, it will give people of Pakistan and all democratic forces renewed faith and confidence in process. Anyother process to get rid of this government will strengthen anti democratic forces. Only a fool can expect that anti democractic forces will burn their hands for someone else.
Editorial in support of PM. Does any Chief Executive blame his own COAS in newspaper? If he was wrong in submitting his reply to the Apex Court then he should have sacked him..... Moreover if Army does not submit to the court then the same writer will cry that Army is not subservient to the law and constitution. Media should also start playing responsibly rather playing in someone's hands......
I am not sure who wrote this editorial but anyone who did so will proudly tell his children and his grandchildren that he totally fulfilled his duty as a honest and brave journalist. This piece just makes me feel, Pakistan has not lost everything yet.
@Roflcopter: In any other country the intelligence agencies would be given a rap on the knuckles for such audacity. Anti democratic forces that you happen to be a part of would like another Bangladesh to occur.
Lol! How many coups have taken place since Pakistan's existence and how many times has the army general held elections within 30 days? or for that matter in 3 months? or for that matter in three years? Oh sorry General Yahya did hold elections in less than three years to give away half the country in less than 30 days of war.
All extra constitutional actions taken by the military is in collective manners. It is always the practice of Pak Army to make responsible one person and plan a new conspiracy. Is Gen Kayani was not part of actions and steps taken by Gen Musharraf, where he was at the time of sacking Chief Justice ? Just on right of him. What role he played for NRO, travelled between Dubai and Islamabad. They brought Zardari to make escape goat but failed so far.
Zardari and Gilani are destroying the country. There is no other choice.
Only can make the right whether some like or not.This the only to get rid of these corrupt politiitions
What is so complicated about tossing out a lousy govt using the ballot box --- other countries seem to do it without all the drama.
Wow what a banana republic!!!!!!!!!!!!! May Almighty save our country from all kinds of crises!!!!
Bravo one of the best editorials of all times. Salute to U.
The writer is making a mountain out of a molehill ! Where exactly in this statement "Allegiance to State and the Constitution is,and will always remain, the prime consideration for the Respondent, who in this case,has followed the book", has the ISPR even hinted at a coup? All they have said is that the Respondents have followed the Constitution, which is more than can be said for the PM or Zardari !!! The sooner we are rid of these vermin,the better for Pakistan. And I am not advocating a coup,there ARE other ways of dismissing an inept,corrupt and dishonest Govt. !!!
Pakistanis suffer from Khaki fetish!
lol.and how many times did army held elections in 30 days. Oh u mean 3650 days than ok.
Army taking over will make incompetent PPP look like martyrs. This mistake should not be made otherwise we will be stuck with Bilawal for the next 4 years and then I'll shoot myself.
Army should and must take over and hold the election in 30 days.
Appropriate editorial. This is the time the press and media should fullfill their obligations to the constitution and support democracy by speaking up. The Express Tribune's recognition of its obligations will serve the cause of democracy well.
The editorial does not make much sense. How can Kayani be held responsible for, for example, Zia's actions and statements, and how can Pasha be condemned for, for example, Hamid Gul's sins? If the writer wants to assert that the current generals have no respect for the constitution and their oaths, he should provide examples of their own actions and statements. If we were to follow the writer's logic, all Pakistani journalists, present and future, will forever be responsible for the poor quality of this editorial!
How can the current COAS be held responsible for the actions and statements of all of the previous army chiefs? If the writer believes that the current military leadership has acted against the constitution then a specific example of the current generals shoudl be cited. Condemning Kayani for Zia's sins is unfair.