Army as a Facilitator
Present political standoff in the country has deepened, as protesting groups of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) by Dr. Tahirul Qadri continue AZADI (Freedom) and INQILAB (Revolution) marches, observing sit-ins at capital city of Islamabad, blocking sensitive Red Zone area and threatening vital government buildings. They have negatively impacted the entire nation causing fretful anxiety for all segments of society. The demonstrations have been prolonged and extended unnecessarily, as the government of PML (N) led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not grab the initiative to settle the issue through peaceful dialogue due to its slow strategy.
On the one side, emotional speeches of Tahir-ul-Qadri coupled with digging graves, showing coffin-cloth and Imran Khan’s hard stance to get resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, pointed at continuity of deadlock and impending perils of violence. One the other side, government wasted vital time to address the rigging grievances of PTI, coldness and insensitivity to register FIR against the concerned people, responsible for killing in Model Town, Lahore, while recent failure of dialogue, rulers’ decision to use force against the protesters, which resulted into killings in Islamabad by the Police including assaults on the reporters and vehicles of the private TV channels have further spoiled the situation. It was due to the use of force that demonstrators who remained peaceful for several days, removed barriers and reached very close to the buildings of Prime Minister House, Parliament and Pak Secretariat, while entering the main building of the Pakistan Television’s headquarters which was vacated by the personnel of Rangers and Pak Army without any violence.
Unfortunately, certain media houses, analysts and commentators played a very negative role in projecting the entire gamut of political standoff between the government and the protesting parties. Instead of acting as a redeemer, allowing the public to take a sigh of relief, media took clear positions to support the wishes and promoting the agenda of their employers, while creating sensationalism, giving biased comments and remaining unruly, noisy and rowdy in their overall conduct. The viewers were at pains to see these media analysts, offering their comments and favoring their sponsoring agencies and influencing authorities. Their obvious and slanted views enabled the viewers to quickly understand that they were trying to pay back to their sponsors. This is nothing, but selling one’s intellect for few pennies or for other petty gains of personal advancement and fame.
By manipulating the political turmoil, created by the politicians, particularly media anchors, especially those working with Geo/JANG Group insinuate that Pakistan’s Armed Forces and intelligence agency, ISI are behind Tahir-ul-Qadari and Imran Khan’s long marches, and sit-ins in Islamabad. The commentators and reporters like Asma Jehangir, Ansar Abbasi, Tariq Butt, Wasim Abbas and Ahmed Noorani appear to have ganged up against Army and ISI, and are trying to score points against these security agencies by accusing these esteemed national institutions without any evidence. However, while speaking in the tone of foreign entities, such elements are hostile to Army and ISI, and leave no stone unturned in depicting these security agencies in bad light.
Undoubtedly, democracy has displayed its success in the west, but, it has proved to be fruitless in Pakistan. Therefore, it is generally said that “any instrument can be misused.” Pakistan’s politicians and media have always claimed that they nourish democratic ideals, but, we could not establish this system on a strong footing due to irresponsible approach of our political entities and media.
Past experience proves that our political parties have worked on undemocratic principles like hostility for the sake of hostility, formation of alliances and counter-alliances to win the elections. Much time is wasted in retaliation against the previous government instead of fulfilling the promises, made with the voters during election campaign. So, they forget the real aim of public mandate by resolving the economic and social problems of the masses. In this context, they also misguide the general masses by forming extreme opinion among them towards their opponents. In fact, concentration of wealth in few hands has created a privileged class of landowners and industrialists who contest elections winning the same against each other again and again.
It is noteworthy that in 2011, during the Memogate case, some political entities and media commentators were saying that martial law will be imposed in the country. The then Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stated, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to support democratic process in the country.” As Army was acting upon the principle of non-interference in political affairs, therefore, the previous government completed its tenure.
At this critical juncture, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted crises. And our Armed Forces are successfully obtaining their objectives in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) through military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists who had challenged the writ of the state, and had frightened the entire nation by their terror-acts. So Armed Forces are already committed in Zarb-e-Azb and have no intention to get involved in political issues. Political disputes need political solutions or political compromises with give and take. They sincerely desire political stability and economic viability in Pakistan. They support all peaceful efforts to resolve internal conflicts and condemn violence as well as acrimonious propaganda against them.
In this connection, taking note of the ongoing crisis and rumors, DG of Inter-Service Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa impartially stated on August 20, “The buildings in the Red Zone (Islamabad) are symbols of state and must be respected. He, also added, “All issues should be resolved through dialogue…all the stakeholders to hold result-oriented dialogue in the interest of the country and its people.”
Nonetheless, the protesting groups have challenged the moral authority of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Now, the premier has to show political acumen to handle the situation and prove his worth as a leader. In this respect, Pak Army and ISI fully support the government by openly rejecting the baseless allegations that the prevailing political mess has been orchestrated by the former. Therefore, sense must prevail upon those who tend to shift the blame on Army and ISI, as and when they fail in resolving the serious issues.
Now, situation in Islamabad is getting serious and so is the case of political temperature. According to latest reports, stalemate has deepened between the PTI-PAT and the rulers, and they remains firm on their stands—after the PTI launched movement of civil disobedience, and presented resignations of its members (Parliamentarians) in the National Assembly.
Time is running out. Hence, in wake of this unresolved crisis, demonstrating patience and tolerance, the rival parties should find out the solution in national interest with meaningful negotiations. And media has a great responsibility to remain neutral by offering balanced views, ensuring objective reporting and making efforts to show maturity, while commenting, analyzing and reporting high profile issues and matters, having involving national stakes. Instead of showing media biases against the security agencies by exploiting the political turmoil, our media must realize its responsibilities, especially when the country is faced with an extra-ordinary challenge like the one, being experienced in Islamabad.