The Jamaat-e-Islaami, lecturing the Army on civilian supremacy, what a surprise! What provoked a passionate performance by Mr Liauqat Baloch, in defence of his party Chief, Mr Munawar Hassan, was nothing less than a stinging reprimand by the Pakistan Army spokesperson; itself in response to Mr Hassan’s ill-considered remarks on who does and does not qualify as a martyr.

In the confusion that followed the Hakimullah killing, and the vexation at the derailing of the enthusiastically marketed “peace process”, Mr Hassan may have thought he was swinging for the fences, when he declared Mehsud to be a ‘martyr’. And all 5,000-odd of the Pakistan security forces who died during the supposed ‘offence’ of fighting those of Mehsud’s ilk, non-martyrs.

In truth, he may as well have shot himself in the foot. Not only has he inspired the ire of the Pakistan Army, but a day previously, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif thundered against “a politician”, who had caused grievous hurt, by his unguarded remakrs on martyrdom. In comparison, the ISPR press release pulled no punches, peppered with phrases such as, “politics of convenience”, “shuhada and their families need no endorsement from Syed Munawar Hassan”, “misguided and self-serving statements”, “demand an unconditional apology from Syed Munawar Hassan”, “expected that Jamat-e-Islami should clearly state its party position on the subject”.

Instinctively, one is moved to rejoice by someone, anyone, delivering the necessary put-down to the JI Chief. But, on observation, the fact that this put-down came from the Pakistan Army – complete with a “demand” for an apology – makes one shift nervously in one’s seat. Undoubtedly, the JI Chief’s remarks are deserving only of disdain – and Mr Baloch’s press conference full of distraction and deliberate obfuscation, even more so – but for the official spokesperson of the Pakistan Army to “demand” an apology from an MNA is inappropriate. Had the “demand” been voiced by the Prime Minister, or better yet the Head of State, the President, it may perhaps been more seemly. That it has come directly from the Army, cushioned though it is in the valid defence of the hurt feelings of the martyred, is a breach of discipline.

No one agrees with Mr Munawar Hassan; in fact, many are looking wistfully to Bangladesh – and it’s not for the 6% growth rate this time. But, the Army must maintain a stiff upper lip, as is it’s constitutional requirement, when it comes to addressing politicians. Unfortunately, the JI, which has long undermined the cause of civilian supremacy over the military, is the undeserving beneficiary of this principle in this case. Unmoved by the storm his remarks have provoked, Mr Hassan maintains that his recent pontificating on martyrdom is “in accordance with Sharia Law”. It might be best for us all to watch quietly from the sidelines, while Mr Hassan digs his party it’s own grave. The ISPR press release was absolutely correct in one matter, the comments of Mr Hassan deserve absolutely no response. And definitely not from the ISPR. If the Army feels vexed by the JI Chief’s comments, a note to the Prime Minister would be the route to take. And let the civilian Prime Minister handle it from there.