Compelling Army for Action
More than ten workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and two policemen were killed, several persons were injured including policemen, while many of them were taken hostage, and police vehicles were burnt, as pitched battles took place between the followers of PAT chief Dr. Tahirul Qadri and police in different cities of Punjab on August 8 and 9, this year when PAT activists clashed with police in Model Town, Lahore after the city and the province of Punjab were virtually sealed off by the authorities through containers and barricades to stop the PAT workers’ participation in their Youm-e-Shuhada (Martyrs Day).
Acting upon similar planning of the civil government, in a crackdown, police has also arrested several workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and detained motorcycles to prevent its supporters from reaching Islamabad in connection with August 14 long March (Azadi March) along with their leader Imran Khan who said that he would sit there as long as his demands are not met by the government.
While criticizing the present government of PML (N) led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of the Punjab province, PTI chief Imran Khan on August 3 vowed to end what he termed is the ‘Sharif family monarchy’ in the country by his Azadi march. Khan explained that there was no real democracy in Pakistan, and the sit-in at Islamabad will not end until a ‘new Pakistan’ is made.
Meanwhile, in a press conference, on August 11, Imran Khan revealed as to how PML (N), Najam Sethi, an employee for Geo TV was made PCB chairman as a gift of rigging in the polls, while the ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday including other high officials also played his role in this regard.
It is notable that some analysts are indicating differences of opinion between Imran and Qadri, when they talks about revolution in the country. But fact remains that pointing out rigging in the polls and the multiple problems faced by the country as well as the people, in one way or the other, both Imran and Qadri pledged to make a new Pakistan, and they are not against democracy. Their real intent is that the entire electoral exercise is deeply flawed. Hence, they emphasized the introduction of electoral reforms in Pakistan, because the issue is that this corrupt system must go. Now, Tahirul Qadri has also announced that his revolution march will also join Imran’s long march on August 14.
In the recent past, Imran Khan contacted various political and religious parties like PPP, MQM, PML-Q, JI and PAT to increase pressure on the PML-N government for overhauling the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) due to the rigging in the general elections 2013. The PPP leader of the opposition Syed Khurshid Shah had also endorsed Imran Khan’s call for resignation of all members of the ECP. In these developments, some analysts had remarked that a grand alliance of the political parties will be concluded for mid-term elections or a massive movement could be launched against the rulers.
Now, the tension has increased between the ruling party on the one side and PTI, PAT PML-Q on the other in wake of police crackdown and violent clashes. In this respect, some ministers has been saying that Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri want to create civil war in the country like Egypt and Libya, and they will be responsible for martial law in the country. While on August 8, PTI chief Imran Khan said, “If the army steps in, it will be because of you…the high-handed measures (that the government) is taking…we have the right to peaceful protest. If they try to stop it, then there is likely to be violence. He elaborated that when he was demanding justice, no one paid heed.
While condemning the strict measures by the government, and deployment of Army in Islamabad, under the pretext of article 245 of the constitution, various leaders including the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Sirajul Haq and the PPP leader Syed Khurshid Shah who tried to defuse the tense situation through dialogue urged the government not to try to stop the PTI long march on the Independence Day, as peaceful protests are part of democracy. They also hinted that military can take over in the drastic circumstances. Besides, some other political leaders and analysts have also been stating that the ongoing system of democracy can be derailed, and martial law can be imposed in the country.
It is mentionable that in May 11, 2014, country-wide protest rallies led by leaders of PTI and PAT, PML-Q and JI were held against the rigging in the elections, demanding a corruption-free state, instead of a system that brought corrupt politicians in parliament. In this context, Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan stated in their speeches that there was no parliament, and denied the presence of democracy, constituted of good governance and purity, as the country is being ruled by some particular families, while poor people of the country are deprived from basic necessities.
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 including responsible 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.
During the election campaign, they employ all means, fair or foul to defeat their opponents and capture political power. They mislead the general masses through, false propaganda and exaggerated speeches.
Besides, various mal-practices such as horse-trading, nepotism, bribery, illegal obligations and other forms of corruption are very common among our political leaders. Past experience also shows that an alliance of different parties is formed to launch a mass movement to topple the government, which ultimately leads to military rule in the country when there is no third option, because state can not survive in anarchy.
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.
However, in case of Pakistan, it is owing to the lack of pre-conditions for the success of democracy like education, tolerance, responsible media and political consciousness that general masses become an easy prey to the system, conducted by shrewd politicians who deceive the public mandate.
At this critical juncture, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted crises such as soaring prices, energy-shortage, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities etc. Besides, the country has perennially been facing subversive activities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and other parts of the country where security forces and law-enforcing agencies are coping with the militants. 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.
Nevertheless, in wake of the present political unrest which is turning to violence, we must know that it has been created by the rival politicians themselves, not by military. If there seems to be no compromise particularly between the PTI-PAT and the ruling party PML (N), Armed Forces which are already coping with external and internal threats as part of their duty are responsible to tackle the unresolved challenge. So, our own politicians can compel Army to take action, as everyone wants that civil war-like situation must be avoided.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations