We all need reassurance from time to time. The one from Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of no risk to democracy and a continuation of the system is comforting and timely. We hope also that it will prove to be realistic. The last thing Pakistan needs at this point is a military intervention and it seems that the army too is aware of this. The world would be unwilling to accept yet another democratic disruption and this too the prime minister has quite accurately pointed out. It should be noted too that the COAS himself has also on more than one occasion stressed the military has no desire to play a political role. Add to this the president’s recent statement — and one would have to agree with this as well — that the situation is so dire that no institution would want to step in and take over the civilian government’s job.
The fact, however, is that the flurry of speculation hurts everyone and creates a climate of instability in which conspiracy theories thrive. We have seen this on many occasions in the past and know also how such an environment is established. But the government also needs to work harder to ensure it cannot take hold and is pushed away so that people can continue with pursuing more harmonious lives. Our economic stability depends on it because a country that sees an elected government dismantled and ousted by the military runs the risk of being cast as a pariah by the world community. Furthermore, the only way we can strengthen democracy and our institutions is by having more of democracy, flawed as it may be, and not interventions by vested interests bringing forth extra-constitutional prescriptions.
Having said that, the civilians need to get their act together as well. They need to refrain from asking the military to step in and take over. In this one would also caution certain sections of the media who seem all too eager to seeing the men in khaki take over the reins of power. Our past has shown quite clearly that military rule is no medicine for our ills and that the best thing that the military can do is abide by its constitutionally-mandated role. The only antidote to our issues of misgovernance and corruption are transparency in government, accountability and sovereignty of parliament.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2010.