Analysis: Army chief versus the judge?

Published: November 6, 2012
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The superior judiciary is sufficiently pragmatic not to challenge the army chief the manner in which it was all prepared to sack an elected provincial government in Quetta.

The superior judiciary is sufficiently pragmatic not to challenge the army chief the manner in which it was all prepared to sack an elected provincial government in Quetta.

People are trying to read into General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s statement to his men about institutions minding their lines and not stepping over them, or defaming the military. Was this a warning to the Supreme Court in wake of the Asghar Khan and Balochistan missing persons’ cases, or is he warning of a mood change regarding democracy?

Perhaps, the statement is neither of the above but just an effort to appease his own officers who might view the decision in the Asghar Khan case or general negative publicity of senior retired officers as the existing high command compromising the organisation’s credibility. Although there is no doubt that no one would dare grill the former army chief or DG ISI like common criminals, the Asghar Khan case may have an impact on the morale of the ordinary officer and jawan who is not used to the army being seriously taken to task. He is certainly in need to show to his own men that he is in control of the situation and will protect the institution given the rumours regarding his possible extension and allegations of financial mismanagement of his own family members. The general understands that an impression that he would compromise on the power of the institution may not go down too well with the ‘boys’ who have grown big egos and consider their institution like Caesar’s wife – above questioning.

While the superior judiciary can claim until cows come home that they have put a check on army’s adventurism through judicial activism in various cases, the fact is that nothing serious has happened in terms of real questioning of GHQ’s power. The superior judiciary is sufficiently pragmatic not to challenge the army chief the manner in which it was all prepared to sack an inefficient but elected provincial government in Quetta. Even if the judges don’t agree, an alleged corruption case in the Chief Justice’s family does deprive the highest court of its real bite.

The army chief would probably be even less worried about real accountability of retired officers by other agencies as the premier accountability institution is brimming with retired military officers some of whom are either hardcore realists not intending to rock any boat or are too close to Kayani. In fact, had the three generals accused in the Railway corruption scandal not blown their top in front of cameras, the act of civilian government summoning senior retired generals would have made great PR for both the military and the civilian government. In any case, the general went out of his way to restore service of three former generals in the NLC case to save them the embarrassment of being tried for corruption by civilians. It was a few years ago that a senior retired general heading Fauji Foundation had refused to appear before the parliament. The mentality persists.

There is little likelihood of the PPP government led by a prime minister from Kayani’s own area and a super-pragmatic President Asif Zardari would start intense accountability of former generals, leave alone sitting commanders and their institution.

However, Kayani would still want to remind his boys and the civilian onlookers that they should not go beyond a point in wanting accountability or pointing a finger at the military fraternity that includes retired officers. The general used the typical tool of reminding people of upholding of military’s honour in tough times in the national interest. He may be still lucky as there is grim possibility of someone reminding him that real national interest lies in clean institutions including the military.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (44)

  • Jat
    Nov 6, 2012 - 3:03AM

    So the Times of India report was correct after all. Something is cooking…

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  • sabi
    Nov 6, 2012 - 3:27AM

    When a nation splits it takes refuge in rumers whispers,gossips and guesses (tukbandi).
    We are bussy reading faces and interperating hollow statements devoid of any depth of thoughts.(Kia zamany main pnapnay ki yehi batain hain).Trust and confidence is long gone only leg pulling is left.

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  • Mubashir
    Nov 6, 2012 - 3:52AM

    Credibility lies in accountability. Army shall increase its stature if it holds senior officers accountable for abuse of power and breach of Oath. Else there shall be no difference between the army and Taliban. Other than the uniform.

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  • Babbarsher Khan
    Nov 6, 2012 - 5:07AM

    It is interesting to watch the fight albeit a shadow boxing between two institutions which conspired to oust the legally elected government not too long ago. Both have the illusion of being state onto themselves!

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  • basharat
    Nov 6, 2012 - 5:58AM

    Whether the actions and political statements of the Chief Justice fall within his constitutional limits or otherwise; majority of the people answer in negative. It is said about superior court judges that they speak through their judgments, as far as the Chief Justice is concerned, such restraint is not perceptible even in the name sake. Judicial activism in rare cases may be tolerabe, too much of it will entail reaction. The Judiciary, more that any other organ of the State, are expected to exercise self restraint.

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  • Nov 6, 2012 - 6:40AM

    @Mubashir:

    Credibility lies in accountability

    Umm, so you’re saying let’s not focus on the billion rupee corruption of the government but lets cook some low to mid-level army guys for stealing a land plot. Where’s the perspective?

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  • rashid khan
    Nov 6, 2012 - 6:40AM

    Just shows that for us people integrity and honesty are skin deep and self interests come to the fore front.
    The protocol loving CJP of Pakistan who has been known to have grilled these appearing in his court on very personal issues, in one instant querying the ability of a father to handle his son. Yet, he remains ignorant of the shenanigans of his highly controversial – offspring.
    The COAS’ clean image takes a back step on the issue of a three years extension – giving the false impression that individuals are bigger than institutions, such as the army. Some gossip even critically view the financial success of his sibling and close family.

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  • HADI SAKEY
    Nov 6, 2012 - 6:51AM

    I am not surprised at what General Kayani said but I am surprised that it took him so long.Actual democracy is there where the law of the land prevails over the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and also the Military. Pak army’s intolerating attitude towards SC’s decision is indeed disturbing. I am sure the CJ would not buckle under pressure from army. Any military intervention could be counter-productive since the geopolitical situation of the area has completely changed. The honey moon for the military is over. Turkish powerful military has gone, Hosni Mubarak has gone, Asad is on his way out, Tunisian dictator has gone, Gaddagi has gone. The Retired Generals may have twisted the arms of General Kayani – it is ME today and it may be you tomorrow.

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  • Saleem
    Nov 6, 2012 - 7:01AM

    Army is subservient to people and constitution of Pakistan. Only courts can interpret the constitution. Kayani has to OBEY and follow courts’ direction. He along with the Army is paid to “serve” and is not paid to “rule”. No general, retired or serving, is above law. Rather than hiding behind titles, generals must answer courts, like any other citizen of Pakistan. If Kayani has any issue with courts’ interpretation then he should hit the road. Everyone, including army, has to start learning to obey the law.

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  • FriendsRomans
    Nov 6, 2012 - 7:59AM

    I hope that General Kayani won’t follow General Musharraf’s path and feel threatened when he really is not to blame himself. I hope he listens to his own gut and his own conscience.

    Gen Kiyani let the trials continue. Let the corruption come to light even if it maybe of those closest to you and sentences be given to them. Show to the world that you are clean yourself. That is enough proof that your institution, The Army, is clean.

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  • Huseeb Khan
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:09AM

    Judiciary i s protecting the constitution.Whoever breaches law should be punished

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  • shariq
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:16AM

    My army fatheh of thier nation – Its time to accountable our “PAK” not really pak in real terms Army. Army Zindabad – Awam Murda Bad

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  • basharat
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:30AM

    No one is above law and the Constitution same should be applicable to the Supreme Court judges who time again, had been interfering in affairs of other organs of the State. Virtually, the Supreme Court had taken charge of almost all other entities of the State in the name of judicial activisim and/or assertive maneuvers albeit those are not constitutionally permissible. The reaction of COAS is natural consequence of the over activism that had become inevitable since long time ago. Federal as well as provincial governments are not subordinate to the Supreme Court but these had been treated like that. Baluchistan government can be removed by a vote of no confidence passed in the Provincial assembly , declaring by the Supreme Court that the provicial government has lost its authority to govern, the declaration or decision whatever it may be called, is contrary to the Constitution . The President, the Prime Minister are liable to be commended for their utmost restraint and patience, which they have demonstrated to avert clash between organs of the State. In European countries we hardly see Photo or statement of any Chief justice , what after all, is special with the chief justice of Pakistan, his statement one has to see every day.

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  • Analyzer
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:40AM

    Top military officers who don’t let go of their positions through the lifeline of extensions make others question the institution and its apparent lack of planning and resources to fill the top positions. So Kayani has also played a part in giving the institution a bad name. He should think twice before pointing his finger at others.

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  • Muneer
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:41AM

    It is not the question of accountability or negative publicity. The CJ’s judgement has incited armed forces from the highest authority to the lowest rank to disobey his superior right from the supreme commander(ie the president) downwards if he/she considers order violating the constitution. In Asghar Khan case without discussing whether the order of the late President was lawful or otherwise, and without finding out the reasons of giving such an order by the late President,the former President, ex Army chief and ex chief of premier intelligence organisation have been declared guilty of violating the constitution.This extra constitutional judgement thus violated article10A of the constitution which gives the right of due process and fair trial to every one.

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  • scotchpak
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:48AM

    To maintain the writ of governance, the army must be willing to accept that a few black sheep have to punished- Else the public is likely to perceive that the only way to deal with the army is the Taliban way

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  • Izaz
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:53AM

    Time to thrash . Enough is enough .Military should take over .Recommend

  • SaneVoice
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:53AM

    No justice is available in the Courts for the common people of Pakistan. Corrupt system prevails at all levels of Judiciary and nothing solid has been done to rectify it. The murderers, rapists and plunderers benefit the loopholes in our Judiciary system and easily get away with their all wrong doings. Chief Justice takes notice of lawyers killing but not taking any notice high handedness of the lawyers. Visit a Court to purchase just a 20 Rupees Stamp Paper and you will get know how difficult is to buy a stamp paper even paying higher than its price.

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  • Nov 6, 2012 - 9:56AM

    @Mubashir:
    And don’t you think that the same should apply to the higher judiciary as well. Afterall they had been subjet to grave mistakes in the near and far past.

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  • Mubashir
    Nov 6, 2012 - 9:58AM

    @Caramelized_Onion:
    A theft is a theft. Be it a plot or a Billion. Both should be held responsible. Our misfortune lies in that we have spared the rich and powerful and penalised the powerless. Justice sees no class or creed. If u want to be successful u have to accept uniformity of “Justice for all”. After all that is what separates Man from other “Animals”…

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  • Nov 6, 2012 - 10:03AM

    I have been a strong believer of the theory that some day someone will have to put a check on the high-flying self-proclaimed sole custodians of the homeland. And the time is nearing, provided they review their conduct.

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Nov 6, 2012 - 10:41AM

    This was going to be happened because this is harsh reality and truth that in Pakistan generals (doesn’t matter either retired or in-service) can not be prosecuted in any courts by the tomorrow’s democratic leaders.
    Trying the generals in Pakistan is and shall be just a dream of democratic leaders which can never be come true because army is army not a people’s elected democratic setup and always protects,respects and honors its officers even after retirement and most of the Pakistani nation loves,supports and likes military rule and army than democracy and politicians in Pakistan because democracy has been badly failed to rehabilitate and facilitate the Pakistani nation…
    So the tomorrow’s democratic leaders should have to stop the stargazing and daydreaming of trying the general in Pakistan……Recommend

  • harkol
    Nov 6, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Sadly the reality of Pakistan is such that it’s army defines ‘national interest’ as ‘army interest’ and it is only capable of waging a war against its own people. Like cancer it eats away Pakistani society from inside, but can’t fight any aggressor force from outside. That includes a two bit few thousand men Taliban armies.

    It has lost every war it has ever fought, lost half the country, has broken the institutions of Pakistan (constitution included) many times, but doesn’t want anyone point a finger in its direction?! has anyone ever been held accountable for omissions/commissions within Pak army?

    Mr. Kayani doesn’t even realize that in state craft, Army is not an ‘Institution’!! It is just an coercive arm of the executive. It doesn’t have any privileges of its own. If it can’t bow to the sovereign (the representative executive) Pakistani shouldn’t put up with such a stupid statement, and should condemn Kayani.

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  • Anoni
    Nov 6, 2012 - 11:50AM

    I admire Gen Kayani as a strategist and thinker . If he actually meant what is being portrayed then it’s indeed troubling to see him take the elitist stance.

    As a defender of nation i still expect better from him. Let justice be done.

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  • Ammar
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:10PM

    Not a spirited take as it was in Memo Case. Now, one should realize in actual that there are limits to enthusiasm. Both institutions’ instruments should step back, take a deep breath and analyze sincerely the causes and effects…

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  • Nov 6, 2012 - 1:15PM

    The biggest Joke: It is better to have Military Dictator than a Judicial dictator. One eyed Dictator is looting through his cronies under the cover of independence of Judiciary. Can his supporters tell me what the nation has got in last 5 years after the crook has been reinstated. More cases are pending in Supreme Court, Can people quote one case which was appreciated internationally and nationally as a precedent setting case as per the accepted standards of Law? The Crook is a habitual Cheater and acutely suffering from Complexes and even does not know what his son and wife are doing. Because of his one eye he even can not see the comforts and cars in his house. Yes Lawyers, Judges have become rich and they keep on supporting him.

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  • A J Khan
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:17PM

    I am all out to support Kiyani instead of CJ.

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  • Asim Ali
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:18PM

    Lets look at the results of army intervention and army led coups
    1. Loss of East Pakistan (thereby killing the dream of the Quaid)
    2. Creation of Taliban which has put us in a warlike situation and destroyed the social fabric of the country
    3. NRO and its consequences which has put us in a quagmire

    Therefore the army needs to swallow its pride and justify the 200 Generals it employs

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  • Zaffar
    Nov 6, 2012 - 1:37PM

    The CJP is just doing his job and he wants others to do their job as well. He is not in the habit of taking bulls…t from anyone. The Army Chief should also do his job and let the law take its own course-they have been protecting their interests for long time at the expense of taxpayer and USA aid.

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  • Jat
    Nov 6, 2012 - 2:16PM

    @A J Khan: “I am all out to support Kiyani instead of CJ.”

    Spoken like a true Pakistani ! After so much discussion, after today’s global sanctions imposed by the United Nations, you have decided to support military rule again. Great, just great !

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  • Enlightened
    Nov 6, 2012 - 2:17PM

    An excellent analysis which is self-explanatory. Accountability and ethics by the military towards the civil authority is not followed in Pakistan since the former has ruled the country for thirty years, a trend which needs to be reversed if democracy is to survive in this country.

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  • aaaaa
    Nov 6, 2012 - 3:09PM

    @Caramelized_Onion:

    First of all, that ‘land plot’ was worth billions of rupees to begin with. Second of all, you display the same small mindedness that every army officer called to task shows. As was evident in the ‘interview’ they gave when exiting the NAB building. Here’s an example for you anyway: The Musharraf government was given close to $15 billion (and thats a conservative estimate) to fight militancy in 9 years. Not a single cent of that money was spent on fighting militancy as Musharraf’s own officers later admitted. You talk about billion of rupees. Let’s first talk about where 15 billion DOLLARS went. Both guilty parties in the Asghar Khan case should be convicted for treason. Hanged if need be. Because there is no greater crime than stealing the mandate of the people just because you didn’t like Benazir Bhutto much. And here’s the punch line: they didn’t like her because they hanged her father, another democratically elected PM. I guess, according to you, the military can kill whoever they like (ZAB, Akbar Bugti, Syed Saleem Shahzad, maybe even BB, the list goes on) but a little accountability of the military gets you all upset?
    The army chief is nobody to define national interest. He is appointed and serves at the discretion of the prime minister. He is paid to follow orders. The parliament has the sole prerogative to define national interest. It’s why they have to be elected directly.

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  • Bilal
    Nov 6, 2012 - 3:35PM

    All i ask is why five lakh army personnels are getting 70% of country’s budget, for what good reason ?
    Let us all tak ethese generals to court and have trialled adn ask where’s this money going,

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  • PARDESI
    Nov 6, 2012 - 3:46PM

    Pakistan Armed Forces is the only institution left in the country and probably because of that the country is intact. I do believe that the corruption should be stamped out and if any one icluding the army or the president is involved than they should be taken to task. I also believe that the media should have a responsibility in pursuing the institutions like police, customs and taxation and highlight the corruption in these institutions and the political influence these institution face in order to make an organization out of them rather than pursuing the armed forces.

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  • Pro Truth
    Nov 6, 2012 - 5:10PM

    Kiyani is right, negetive media campaign by courts and all others serve against the country. Yes by all means go after the corruption, but naming generals in the verdict and not the beloved and crooked politicians was indeed biased one!
    Its part of mega designs, because army is the only institution that is holding against internal and external threats! Break the army, and you will have no country, thats for sure!

    Catch the culprits all the culprits, dont single out the generals! Every ill in Pakistan is not result of generals, with mega crooks sitting in the governments in centre and provinces its not army who is responsible for misery of people of Pakistan! get the reality check!

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  • Mohammad Afzal
    Nov 6, 2012 - 7:27PM

    @Mubashir: very well said and hitting the nail at its head!

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  • tufan Agha
    Nov 6, 2012 - 7:29PM

    ET promotes comments which are against the Armed Forces of Pakistan and Pakistan especially from Indians. They have space for terrorists and the supporters of Iftikhar Chaudry. It dares not publish comments which are written against our injust Judicial System and creates an impression that Pakistan is hated by its people.

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  • sattar rind
    Nov 7, 2012 - 12:51AM

    i don’t think that army Chief just sent massage to his boys or onlookers that they not want to go beyond the ”line”. i think the keeping him behind the line chief is unease and he is fighting with himself.. if he lost this fight than no one will stop him to cross the line. therefore CJ may not check his limit..

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  • HH
    Nov 7, 2012 - 9:23AM

    There is such an abundance of non-issues in this country that nobody has time to focus on real issues.

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  • farooq qamar
    Nov 7, 2012 - 10:49AM

    cj should resign because of his and arsalan corruption

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  • Suhail
    Nov 7, 2012 - 8:08PM

    Army’s high command in general and Kiyani in particular, must learn that they are protectors of Pakistani borders. They should focus on external threats and spend their time and energy in cross border threat from Taliban. They can’t harbor corrupt, neither can they shield wanted criminals, regardless of their stripes. Army and its generals must learn that they serve people of Pakistan, and should not judge them as inferior or dream of ruling them. Pakistan is moving towards democracy where such unwanted comments could fire a general. Kayani should stay clear of politics and this is not his domainRecommend

  • Jibran Pataudi
    Nov 8, 2012 - 12:14PM

    The Chief Justice has really shaken up the army well this time !!! no escape routes for them pls !!! army needs to answer now for all happening since the birth of Pakistan !!!

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  • Ali
    Nov 9, 2012 - 12:47AM

    Every institution of this world has all sorts of people! Good, bad, corrupt. Those who are found guilty should be punished! But we cannot “tag” the whole institute as corrupt due to the misdeeds of a “few”! Army has done a great job and is still doing so! Those who are maligning their own army are fools!

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  • Kamran Naqvi
    Nov 9, 2012 - 5:53PM

    Who is the GUARANTOR of NRO deal between Musharraf and PPP??

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