In the midst of a national tragedy that requires – or rather demands – introspection and reevaluation, our institutions chose to preserve the glorious visage of the state rather than ask hard hitting questions.

On Monday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sought comments from National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on a petition seeking the disqualification of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai. His charge: criticising the security agencies in the wake of the Quetta attack.

Let’s analyse this. Mehmood Khan Achakzai asked a few simple, logical questions. Why do our security agencies continue to fail? Why has there been no accountability for their failure? Who is to blame for Quetta?

How does this constitute such a grave offence that we demand his disqualification from the National Assembly? Holding government institutions accountable is the job of the Parliament – and we too easily forget that the military is a government institute too. This was barely criticism, but it seems our armed forces are extremely thin-skinned.

It is clear that the case against Achakzai is non-existent and will be thrown out. But that fact that the ECP took this up in exclusion to all its other duties and forwarded it to the NA speaker shows a warped sense of priorities that prevail in the government.

Even if it was criticism, even if he had stood on the assembly floor and said that the armed forces have failed to protect Pakistan, so what? Is the military so sacred that we can’t question their actions? The military is not infallible – it can make bad decisions. And looking back at a long history of military coups, failed economic plans, lost wars and half-baked strategies, we can see that they have made plenty.

Earlier this year, General Raheel Sharif dismissed several army officers for corruption. Can we not criticise them too – the disgraced ones? What about the ones under investigation for land-grabbing and fraud? Are they un-reproachable too?

The answer is no. As a government institute that does the bidding of the civilian government, the military must accept all fair criticism. With 70 people dead in one of the most heavily garrisoned city in Pakistan – this is fair criticism.

What about the morale of the soldier fighting in the ditches? His morale can withstand a few sentences of hard questioning from a politician. His morale has been trained to withstand it and has already withstood much more in the form of enemy bullets and bombs. What is in danger is the self-esteem of the top brass.

We must look to protect our people, not our prickly egos.