With the nation having become hostage to the two mega scandals, both involving the government and Sharif family, the chain of actions by the government suggests that it is hell bent on perpetuating the crisis for drawing political mileage, notwithstanding its ramifications on the country at large. With moral and physical pressure mounting on the Prime Minister, any possibility of an open confrontation with the military cannot be completely ruled out. If the previous handling of such crisis by Mr. Sharif are of any consequence, the country needs to be alive to any adventurous move by him more so at a time when he would consider it in line with his political ambitions given the 2018 elections round the corner. What, therefore, needs to be done to ensure that the crisis is addressed in a befitting manner true to its importance, while ensuring the continuity of democratic process?

Ironically, about six months ago, it began with a news, intentionally planted by government officials close to Mr. Sharif and his family maligning the Army, in the process jeopardizing national security. On raising of objection by the Army, the government decided to hold an inquiry into the leaks promising to take appropriate action against those involved. Having made a mockery of anything that can be called an inquiry, it took 6-7 months to finalize its recommendations which the Prime Minister`s Secretariat decided to selectively apply totally opposite to the understanding reached with the Army. It has been in this context that the Army had to take its position against this malicious and perpetually maligning campaign against it by government functionaries close to Mr. Sharif.

What therefore needs to be done? The government of Mr. Sharif would do a great service to the country and democracy if it undertakes following measures. One, make the inquiry report public and take appropriate actions in accordance with its recommendations. Two, refrain from any move that would add further to the crisis pushing the country towards greater instability and possible constitutional crisis. Three, stop utilizing its energies, efforts and public resources in downplaying the Army`s position and image through smear campaigns that often backfires and totally unacceptable to the people of Pakistan given the esteem in which it holds its Armed Forces. Four, with the country well on the way to becoming an economic hub, courtesy Chinese greater regional interests and our geostrategic position, the government is expected to create greater political harmony than adding more fissures and maligning national institutions. Five, if the government has learnt any lesson from its Dawn Leaks handling, it is well advised to let the JIT on Panama function in the spirit in which it has been ordered by the Supreme Court  rather than using it for political mileage resorting to delaying tactics. Six, with APNS having already rejected the government’s move to take necessary action against concerned people in its ranks, the government will do well to formulate appropriate policies in consultation with stakeholders to ensure that issues of national security are not thrown into public domain at will for personal gains and ratings.

Though the present dispensation at Rawalpindi has concentrated a great deal on hardcore professional issues, including war on terrorism, while deliberately remaining away from political domain and media, the government has been relentlessly scheming to embarrass its leadership through persistent efforts and a couldn’t-care-less attitude on issues directly impinging on national security and the Army`s public image. This well thought out move intending to create a wedge between the rank and file and senior leadership is by any means a No Go Area and will never be accepted to say the least. The sacrifices of thousands of Pakistanis including armed forces personnel cannot be ignored and trampled under the feet of those having lost any moral ground to govern. The people of Pakistan and rank and file within the Armed Forces are very closely and keenly following the events and expects its political and military leadership to ensure that justice is done. Making compromises on issues of national security for political gains and willful attempts to malign the Armed Forces is neither a service to the institution nor to the country. In any case, it is an option unacceptable to the 200 million patriotic Pakistanis and must be avoided at all costs.