ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party lawmaker Farhatullah Babar yesterday said the erosion of civilian space had accelerated during the present Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz(PML-N)-led government.

He said regardless of the mantra of being on one page the reality was that the civil military relationship was fractured and suffered from trust deficit and continuous erosion of the civilian political space.

Taking part in discussion on civil-military relation orgainised here by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, he said it was true both in terms of optics as well as ground realities. “Optically it was obvious from the photographs of a recent huddle of top civilian ministers in the General Headquarters,” the lawmaker said.

He recalled political parties and the judiciary both had been responsible in the past for inviting and legitimising military interventions.

Senator Babar said the situation had changed after the adoption of charter of democracy and the judiciary also buried the doctrine of necessity.

The political parties also demonstrated their commitment during the 2014 dharna (sit-in) led by the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf.

However in spite of this neither the civilian government nor the judiciary could do anything when General Pervez Musharraf was given shelter in a hospital in Rawalpindi, he said.

The dharna sought to de-legitimise the parliament, the election commission and democratic structures and legitimise the security establishment thereby creating conditions for allowing Musharraf to escape accountability, he said.

Babar said the distortion in civil-military relationship was not caused by the security establishment alone. “But the distortion is structurally built in when some elements believe that they are above accountability, he said adding everyone knows who were those elements,” he said.

The Senator said direct military intervention had now been replaced with calling the shots from behind the scene. This model of statecraft is fraught with grave dangers to the state and society, he added.

He said that the situation could not be corrected overnight and required patience and constant vigilance. “How can it be changed overnight in a country where for more than half of its independent existence the military has ruled directly and where the state is driven by considerations of security rather than welfare of the people,” he asked.

Babar proposed expanded public discourse, setting up of parliamentary committee on national security, institutionalizing the discourse between civil and military and across the board accountability of all without exception as a way forward.