LAHORE - PPP is observing ‘Black Day’ today (July 5) to mark the military take over of 1977 when General Ziaul Haq overthrew the elected government of then Prime Minister Z.A Bhutto.
The PML-N also observes a ‘Black Day’ every year on October 12 for the same reason. The two dates come every year, only separated by three months, and the two parties hold seminars as an annual ritual to condemn the dictatorship.
Two military coups have taken place in the past 37 years and the intricacies of civil-military relationship continue to haunt the political system.
Today, again, we seem to be at the threshold of another unconstitutional change. Who knows what would happen if the coming events take an ugly turn and we are back to the square one.
The current political system is facing threats to its existence from Dr Qadri’s so-called revolution and the Tsunami march of Imran Khan. It is being widely feared that the upcoming events could lead to a situation which necessitates military intervention.
Though the Constitution is very clear about the respective domains of the civil government and the military establishment, yet the two find it difficult to co-exist.
The country saw a serious confrontation between the Army and the political leadership during the period when PPP-led government was in power from 2008 to 2013.
The PPP government received first jolt from the powers that-be when it was forced to restore the deposed judges hardly a year after assuming power.
The civil-military relations were under strain for the second time in October 2009.
This time, it was the controversy over Kerry-Lugar Bill which the army believed had been orchestrated by Hussain Haqqani, the then Pakistan Ambassador to the US.
The Bill reportedly contained some provisions which were conceived a direct intervention in the affairs of the Pakistan Army.
The dust settled when those clauses were finally removed, though the PPP government contended at that time that no such conditions were part of the US bill which provided for civilian aid to Pakistan.
The civil-military relations faced another test of time after the US raid at Abbottabad on 2nd of May 2011 against Osama Bin Laden.
It was then alleged that the then President Asif Ali Zardari sent a secret message to Admiral Mike Mullen which was delivered to him by Mansoor Ejaz on behest of Ambassador Haqqani. Zardari had to sack Haqqani under pressure from the military Generals.
The following year, the issue of Swiss letter resurfaced again.
The Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani for not writing the letter to the Swiss authorities.
The PPP government the then suspected that military was behind the move to oust its Prime Minister. Despite serious reservations over the decision, Gilani left the Prime Minister House apparently to avoid another clash with the Generals.
The previous government succeeded in completing its Constitutional tenure since it did not take the confrontation with the Army to a point of no return.
The PPP leaders state that their government was kept under constant pressure by the military establishment throughout its five year tenure. One event after the other created political instability, they argue.
It seems that the same circle of events is going to be repeated again with a new political government in place.
The government was already under pressure over the issue of Musharraf’s trial when Dr Qadri and Imran Khan suddenly declared to confront the government for a change.
The PML-N leadership suspects that both Qadri and Imran are bent upon derailing the system after getting signal from the ultimate powers.