An Army which Owns the Country!

Issue about the extension of General Qamar Javed Bajwa has once again cemented the age-old proverb that Pakistan Army owns the country.

Four extensions of the Army Chiefs in the past without anyone challenging the decision and two Chiefs out of the four toppling the civil government, says a lot about the rogue Army.

In the present scenario the ongoing battle, between the judiciary and the Prime Minister over yet another extension is without any doubt the most shambolic episode in Imran Khan’s tenure. Right from day one, after the formation of government, the PTI has always been in news for wrong reasons. Be it their leaders fumbling over the facts, telling brazen lies, miss-governance or the deteriorating economy of the country. But nothing to beat the #BajwaExtension, the self made controversy by Imran Khan, to oblige his mentor.

However, the magnanimity shown by the Prime Minister on the Army Chief, by short circuiting the constitution has not gone too well with the public and the army as such. Entire thing has snowballed into something which is now proving to be the nightmare for the PTI and difficult to control. This ineptness on part of the government has not only damaged the already dented reputation of Imran Khan but has also dragged the military and the judiciary as a whole into disrepute. Perhaps the Pakistani public has seen enough of Vardi. 

On Aug 19, Prime Minister had made the official statement confirming the extension to Gen Bajwa for another three years. However, this all happened without any considerations to the laid down procedures in the Constitution of the Pakistan. To put it simple, it was an action taken by the Prime Minister, guided by his able ministers and convinced that “You can do it”. Not realising the consequences. Later to make amends, it was announced that the President Arif Alvi has put his signature on the statement. But there was a difference. PM signed on Extension but the President signed on Reappointment.

There were no protests, no appeals and no representations given to the importance of Establishment and knowing what they are capable of. But, the undercurrents had started and it was gaining momentum with each passing day. So, the petition filed by Riaz Rahi set the ignition and as a result on last Tuesday, Chief Justice Asif Khosa, unlike Pakistani judiciary, suspended the extension order on the grounds of procedural anomalies, and the fact there is no provision in the Army Regulations to support such an extension.

The entire episode has exposed the PTI government’s authoritarian streak and its lack of maturity — a lethal combination, which was also evident from the emergent cabinet meeting called by the Prime Minister. Was it really that important that it merit a cabinet meeting? But it was indeed important for Imran Khan as the Chief Justice decision not only undermined the PM’s authority but also exposed the obligation done to his mentor. Cabinet meeting was to discuss how to amend the Army Regulations to include a provision for an “extension in the army chief’s tenure”. Never heard of such precedent.

here were profound, long-term repercussions for the democratic process and for civilian authority at stake here; the situation demanded a broader parliamentary debate. And yet the government, out of sheer expediency and for the benefit of a single individual, went ahead — simply because it could. Even for a dispensation that repeatedly boasts of being ‘on the same page’ as the military, the prime minister’s premature decision to grant the extension smacks of impetuosity.

On Thursday, after detailed hearing of the case and frequent adjournments, the Chief Justice Khosa also seems to have succumbed to the pressure from Establishment as he has announced six month extension to General Bajwa. A landmark decision indeed, however there will be unprecedented questions to be answered.

At the end one thing is crystal clear that General Bajwa has always thought of himself and not the institution. It has also proved that there are no other Army Generals in Pakistan Army as capable as Bajwa to handle the situation in the country.

28 Nov 19/Thursday                                                                                          Written by Azadazraq