Balance Needs Among State Institutions
Pakistan’s politicians and media have always shown that they nourish democratic ideals, but, we could not establish this system on a strong footing due to their irresponsible approach.
In case of Pakistan, it is due 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 shrewd politicians.
For any state, freedom of speech enshrined in freedom of media and rule of law is manifested through independent judiciary and powerful state institutions to deal with internal and external threats. Each has to respect its own constitutional jurisdiction for a vibrant function of democracy.
In order to divert the attention of people from real problems, without grasping realities, politicians of rival parties and media have manipulated every issue like the Memogate case, missing persons’ case, military operations against Taliban and issue of dialogue with them—not only to create differences among the key national intuitions, but also against each other so as to misguide the common men to increase their voting lists.
Notably, speaking about the Memogate case, on December 22, 2011, the ex-Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, without naming Army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), presumed that conspiracies were being hatched to topple the elected government. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML (N) had also stated that martial law would not be accepted in the country.
In that backdrop, while dispelling the speculations of any military takeover, Gen. Kayani stated on December 23, 2011, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to support democratic process in the country.” He explained that the army was fully cognizant of its constitutional responsibilities. He emphasized that the issues of national security need to be considered on merit alone and there could be no compromise on the national security. As Army was acting upon the principle of non-interference in political affairs, therefore, the previous government completed its tenure.
In the past, some politicians including media anchors and commentators also tried to create a wedge between the judicially and armed forces. In this regard, a new debate started in November 2012, after the statement of Gen. Kayani who said on November 5, “No individual or institution has monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining national interest…armed forces draw their strength from the public support. Therefore, any effort which draws a wedge between the people and armed forces undermines the larger national interest. He elaborated that instead of “critically looking at the past mistakes made by all of us, we must try to set the course for a better future…striving for the rule of law…no one is guilty until proven.” He further stated, “Strengthening the institutions, ensuring the rule of law and working within the bounds of the constitution is the right way.”
Similarly, taking note of the imbalance among the core institutions of Pakistan, while addressing a large gathering on the eve of Youm-e-Shuhada (Day of Martyrs), Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif stated on April 30, this year, “The Pakistan Army supported every effort for the elimination of terrorism and restoration of peace…all the elements fighting against Pakistan should submit before the Constitution and laws.” He elaborated that the armed forces believed in the strengthening of democracy, supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law and would render every sacrifice for the country’s security and prosperity. He especially called upon all the institutions of the country to make efforts for the success of democracy and nation building.
Gen. Raheel Sharif made it clear that the people and the armed forces were fully capable of thwarting the nefarious designs of the enemies of the country. All nations fight shoulder-to-shoulder with their armies on the internal or external fronts and keep their spirits high. He also said that media always played an important role in moulding public opinion in favour of national security. He added, “We believe in the freedom of media and responsible journalism.”
However, on our media, especially Geo TV channel conducted controversial debate between politicians and commentators by exploiting every issue without bothering for the integrity of the country. Finally, it left no stone unturned in maligning ISI and its DG under the pretext of Hamid Mir episode which was availed by anti-Pakistan powers like India, US, Israel etc. to intensify their propaganda against Pakistan’s the security agencies.
In this respect, Geo media network which enjoys support of external enemy, itself indicates the evidence that it follows India which wants to destabilize Pakistan. In this context, on April 28, voicing his support for the Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha called upon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif through a letter to stop ISI from suspending Geo TV license. It has unveiled the intrigue between India and Geo network. We should nip the evil that India is follower of Chanakya’s ideology (Saying something else and doing something else).
While leaders of various political and religious parties including all the segments of society have already been condemning the Geo TV channel by showing solidarity with Pakistan’s armed forces and ISI, as deducing hastily outcome of the assault on its anchor Hamid Mir, this media group left no stone unturned in defaming the national institutions like ISI and its DG. But countrywide protests and rallies accelerated against the Geo Network after its channel showed blasphemous content on May 14, this year, in its entertainment morning show “Utho Jago Pakistan” by playing a Qawwali (a genre of sufi music) “Ali ke Saath hai Zahra ki Shaadi” in the background of actress Veena Malik and her husband Assad Bashir Khattak’s wedding reenactment. It is a famous Qawwali about the marriage of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) daughter Syeda Fatima Zehra (R.A) with his cousin Hazrat Ali (R.A).
Nevertheless, besides other leaders, and political parties, even Jamat-i-Islami remarked that Geo and Jang group has been implementing anti-Pakistan agenda of external powers. Especially, Chairman, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan who has also defended the stance of Army and ISI, announced to boycott Geo and Jang group. In a press conference on May 17, Imran Khan displayed documentary evidence, revealing that Geo TV is working against the national interests of Pakistan and is being funded by foreign countries like UK and the US State Department for shaping the national narrative on foreign agendas, while there is no audit of the Geo network which blackmails those who raise question in this connection.
Imran Khan whose party has been protesting against the rigging in elections 2013, has started contacting various 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). The PPP leader of the opposition Syed Khurshid Shah also endorsed Imran Khan’s call for the resignation of all members of the ECP. In these developments, some analysts opine 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.
Although some elements criticized Geo TV channel for defaming ISI, yet without naming Pak Army or ISI, they misconceived that the latter is backing the ongoing protest rallies, particularly Imran Khan against the present government. Geo TV has also indirectly raised such baseless allegations. But Imran Khan has denied these false accusations, as he was already talking about the theft of public mandate in the general elections.
In fact, country-wide protest rallies continue to show solidarity with armed forces, and against the irresponsible approach of the Geo Media group. These are also being held against the rigging in the elections, demanding a corruption-free system of democracy.
Regrettably, Geo Media Group has learnt nothing from Rupert Murdoch, the owner of 160 years old newspaper “News of the World” in UK, who himself decided to close his paper. It reflects institutional strength which checked the imbalance created by an irresponsible establishment. We need to follow suit and let no one undermine our state institutions, under the pretext of free media. In this regard, the owner’s moral courage was much higher than the real stature of Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman.
Besides, unlike the ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who has been alleged for rigging in the polls by Imran Khan and other entities including his partiality, a greater responsibility lies on the Supreme Court led by the present Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and other judges as protectors of the constitution. People expect that they will uphold the constitutional predominance and its supremacy over all other institutions and authorities by creating balance among them.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan’s state institutions are strong enough to enforce discipline and safeguard the country against foreign agenda. Pakistan Army and national security institutions stand united to protect the state and are willing to sacrifice unyieldingly to preserve our freedom, rule of law, democracy and freedom of speech.
Nonetheless, a state functions well, if its institutions follow a balanced code of conduct. Even, nature perpetuates itself by maintaining balance in the universe. Likewise, balance within institutions is vital for smooth functioning of the state as well as democracy. Let us not weaken our country, as any imbalance injected within the state institutions by an un-bridled expression of ill-intended power can render it vulnerable. It is time to give a dog a bad name.
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