Pakistan Army supports democracy and doesn't deem it necessary to respond to rumours, said DG ISPR Major General Asim Bajwa while responding to rumours surrounding the Army’s role in the current political scenario during a press conference. He also expressed disappointment over the rampant “speculation” concerning the alleged support by military to Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, and reiterated the military’s resolve to follow the constitution. It was also said that the on-going political tussle has to be resolved politically. While this may be misconstrued as yet another political statement, but the context in which these words were uttered indicate that DG ISPR was mere attempting to clarify that the military will not directly intervene on its own to sort anything or anyone out, as feared by many and hoped by some.

Perhaps a more valid criticism here would be that the military cannot draw red lines for itself or publicly suggest solutions to political problems. It is a subordinate institution, and if it is ordered by the elected government to clear the area of violent protestors, it is bound by law to follow orders. The government may be inclined to tackle the crisis through political means, and that indeed is the right approach, but it still reserves the right to seek military assistance to clear the Red Zone. What the government should not do under any situation is ask the Army to do something, which is not mandated by the constitution, such as playing the role of a ‘facilitator’ in political dialogue. Such illegal orders create problems for all parties involved.

DG ISPR also pointed towards previous press releases, which according to him, made abundantly clear the Army’s constitutional stance on the issue. Interestingly, he mentioned the press release issued after the Corps Commanders Conference held on 31st August, 2014. It must be remembered that the press release in question created quite a controversy, due to its political content and discouraging remarks putting both government and anti-government protestors on the same level. If anything, the ISPR should ensure that such mistakes are not repeated rather than presenting them as evidence for unquestionable impartiality. There is ample reason to believe that both PTI and PAT enjoyed support, not necessarily from the entire institution including the COAS, but from certain elements within. PTI President Javed Hashmi’s many revelations, Imran’s several mentions of the ‘umpire’, Qadri’s entire narrative which attacks everyone but the military, and the mere presence of Sheikh Rasheed and the PMLQ – are a few amongst several other indicators which raise valid questions regarding the Army. That being said, it is encouraging to see the DG ISPR take a clear position in favour of democracy and the constitution on behalf of his institution. It is hoped that good words are backed by equally good actions.