The startling call made by the MQM leader for the army to step in and remove corrupt politicians defies comprehension, especially given that the party he leads has suffered much in the past at the hands of the military. Perhaps the massive devastation caused by the flood has led him to speak the unspeakable, or is it a demand by a senior ANP leader to hand over Karachi to the army? As for inviting the generals and their patriotism, the latter has never been in doubt but the fact remains that they are not trained to rule or eliminate corruption. The role of the military is to guard the country’s physical boundaries against external threats and it should be tasked with that. In today’s conflict-ridden world, it is also to tackle internal threats such as those represented by the Taliban. So while corruption has always been an excuse to impose martial law, the actual imposition itself has not eliminated corruption, or even reduced it in any significant manner.
Compare this, however, to an elected government, which in theory at least is held accountable to the electorate at the time of election. The point being made here is that even if there is in place a government perceptibly as corrupt as that led by the PPP, it should be allowed to govern and then be held accountable by voters at the next election. That is the only way democracies function. They mature and get better by having elections and by giving those elected a chance to prove themselves. And if they fail then the electorate can vote them out. The solution does not lie in inviting the military to step in and do something that is essentially not within its constitutional mandate.
It is certainly true there are matters that need to be corrected and much that is amiss with governance. This is the result of the frequent disruptions in democratic rule we have seen in the past. As for the implication that the army can ‘clean up’ politics, what would perhaps be more relevant to our situation is an investigation into military spending and the misappropriation of funds.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2010.