Ever since the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court on July 28, following investigations into the Panama Papers scandal, we have seen a silent tussle between the government and the military, with PML-N often alluding to a hostile “establishment” which was engineering into the field of politics, and which was behind the ‘judicial’ coup. The worsening tension between the civil and military forces, however, has so far been an indirect badly-kept secret, and is yet to be discussed on any official channels of the state.
However, perhaps it is time that we do discuss and debate how the frequent tensions, tussles and controversies are there for everyone to see. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also seems to agree with this opinion, as on his news conference with Miftah Ismail on Monday, he called for a national debate on future civil-military relations, the role of the judiciary, accountability and other state institutions, as he reviewed PML-N government’s performance over the last five years. While giving a review of PML-N’s performance for the past five years, the PM stated that the party had respected the vote by delivering upon its promises, but that its performance had been impacted by the Panama Papers verdict, and the continual activism of the judiciary and establishment into spheres of the political. Therefore, to ensure that progress is not hampered again, the PM argued that there should be a national dialogue on what should be the role of the judiciary and NAB when the next government came to power.
Whether the judiciary and establishment have caused a negative effect on the progress of democracy is a debate that has certainly been occurring on indirect political fronts, and speeches in political rallies. Thus, there is no reason why this debate should not be had on the national front, and through more direct channels. The solution requires confrontation with the issue, instead of brushing it under the rug.
Broken civil-military relations have been a repeated reality of our country’s past, yet the officials streams of the state always maintains an uncomfortable silence while discussing the clashes of the military and civil. This has resulted in much misinformation and conspiracies being spread and has resulted in alienation of civilians.. It is time we deliberate on this as a nation.