Excluding the previous month, both the army and the civilian government have made an overt display of keeping the other close. On May 11, Raheel Sharif met the Prime Minister for the first time since after April 4, indicating that there was some distance between the two. Panama is seen by some analysts as the reason behind this. Others claim the Punjab operation might have a bigger part to play. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Conflicting reports have emerged of this meeting, with some sources claiming that the General hinted towards Panama and resolving it at the soonest, as it stood to affect governance and national security. Others firmly refute this assertion. The fact of the matter is, the military is not subservient to the civilian government as it should be, and as the better run institution, it has a lot of power, soft and hard. The public show of accountability made by the army, whether real or not, already put pressure on the government. But while the government and the Prime Minister in particular should be held accountable at all costs, the army cannot be the one to do this. But then, who else will whip the government into shape?

The ruling government has fumbled from one crisis to the next, all the while secure, because “the army and the civilian government are on the same page”. This politics of being on the “same page” has given the ruling party a sense of security, and been able to silence any criticism of the army from the party. There are three branches of government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial. The military does not independently feature in the theory and practice of government and is part of the executive. Yet in Pakistan, politics has become so convoluted over time, that only the military can check powers of the others, without many balancing checks on it. And in many cases, this seems like a good deal, looking at how corrupt and inept most of our politicians are.

The judiciary stayed the executions of three more given the death penalty by the military courts. The SC made the right decision, considering there was a serious lack of evidence in all three cases. This was not the first time that the SC has reversed the death penalty and this is not a bad thing. Arguably, the judiciary may be the only pillar of the state that can check the power of the army. The rest of the civilian setup is impotent to do so.