General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s statement about the constitutional role of Pakistan Army has put to rest rumours and speculations of an army takeover. It has also refuted Yousuf Raza Gilani's charge of the army plotting to throw the political government out when Kayani declared: "The army has no desire to derail democracy."

The Pakistan Army’s past role in the six and a half decades of the country’s existence does spell doom and gloom for democratic institutions at its hands. There have been four military takeovers and Pakistan has been ruled by the army for over 33 years. With such a track record, the government was wary of the army’s intentions, but it should not have denigrated it, forcing a clash between the institutions.

One expects that those who claim to be the champions of democracy would endeavour to keep the banner of democracy aloft. But it appears that the same democrats are sacrificing this notion at the altar of their own self-preservation. With the memogate scandal being examined by the Supreme Court, one would expect that the current political dispensation in Islamabad would let justice prevail and the judicial proceedings take their legitimate course, instead of putting impediments in the way of the judicial system. The questions are: Why are they against the judicial process? Do they fear the exposure of their own veiled complicity in the macabre plot to upstage the military?

The Mossad plays an important role in the operation of State functionaries of Israel. Similarly, the India’s security agency, RAW, has a significant task in the Indian system of government. One never hears the Israeli or Indian administration castigate Mossad or RAW. But in Pakistan, it is the government and its sympathisers in the media, who have turned their knives on both the ISI and army. There was a time, when the Pakistani army would not refrain from toppling the applecart of democracy and usurping the reins of power at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it was the corrupt practices of the democratic setup; while, at times, it was sheer lack of governance. The current setup in the army has resisted all temptations to assume power. There have been numerous opportunities, but they have not availed them mainly to give democracy, still at a nascent stage in Pakistan, a chance to take root, and thrive.

The government, on the other hand, in order to hide its own inadequacy, has been conspiring to either vilify the army or pull the ISI directly under its own control. It forgets that the army and the ISI are its greatest benefactor, but it is hell bent upon disparaging both institutions. It is well known that the smooth functioning of a government depends upon harmony and close coordination between the pillars of the State; however in Pakistan, it is the democrats themselves who are trying to shoot themselves in the foot by driving a wedge between the institutions. General Kayani needs neither recommendation, nor reference; his services to the State are well recorded. General Pasha, while serving as a Contingent and Sector Commander of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, was reverently known as the “Little General”; his contributions to the war on terror have earned him good repute.

The US, which is Pakistan’s ally in the Afghan war, has its own myopic agenda that has been thwarted by Generals Kayani and Pasha. The US tried to impose its will on Pakistan at the Istanbul Conference, but the duo put impediments in the path of the US agenda, since it did not serve Pakistan. At Bonn, Pakistan boycotted the conference on Afghanistan. The Nato attack at Salalah checkpost has failed to bring about an apology from the assailants, instead they are trying to malign the Pak Army, as well as the ISI, and for this they have found wiling partners in the ruling junta in Islamabad. Little do the democrats in Islamabad realise that they themselves may fall in the pit they dig for others.

Hussain Haqqani’s defence counsel seeking General Pasha’s resignation without taking cognisance of the fact that he had rendered his resignation after the Osama bin Laden episode, but was requested by the parliamentarians themselves to stay on and carry forward the good work. Driving a wedge between the State institutions would surely be counterproductive; instead the democrats should let the army fulfil its constitutional role.

    The writer is a political and defence analyst.