The Road To Military Rule

Gen Raheel

PPP finds itself being squeezed rather tightly lately. Sadly, the squeeze really comes as no surprise. When Pakistan Rangers first raided 90 earlier this year, the writing was already on the wall. Today, PPP leadership is crying foul over being targeted, but in some ways their troubles are a result of their own doing. When it became obvious that Army was going returning to operations against political parties, the PPP took the strategy of trying to cozy up in hopes of weathering the storm. Did they really think that it would work?

The decision to support military courts was short-sighted and self-defeating. The PPP, who of all parties should have known better, allowed itself to get swept up in the moment and chose political expediency over constitutional consistency. Not without debate, of course, but in the end the decision that was made was made. Ironically, it was the supposedly “politically immature” Bilawal only who seemed to understand what was at stake. And as they do, once the snowball started rolling, it began to grow, and now COAS Gen Raheel has ordered that the original number of military courts be expanded. Not for Peshawar, or Punjab, mind you, but for Karachi. Today there are murmurs of regret, and lawyers are filing challenges, but it is too little too late. The genii has been let loose, and now the PPP who for all its faults has at least done more against terrorism than most, finds itself facing charges of terrorism just one day after “Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had directed the authorities to break the “evil nexus between terrorism, criminal mafias, violence and corruption” to achieve the objective of ensuring a peaceful and terror-free Karachi.”

Meanwhile, PMLN finds itself in what it believes to be a safe seat. After all, the Army needs to maintain some appearance of constitutionality. “Plausible deniability” at a minimum. But Nawaz won’t be in PM’s house forever, and with Imran Khan feeling energised after his recent hat-trick, it could be moving time sooner than Mian Saab would like. Rather than bolster its defences, however, PMLN is trying to move even closer to GHQ in the hopes that proximity will provide safety. No matter how many times Ch Nisar declares that “it was his job as a minister to defend the army”, Aabpara has been known to hold a grudge, and Nawaz has not always played as nicely as he has been expected to. Remember, even Altaf Hussain tried to make amends with public shows of affection, and what did that get him in the end?

Politicians need to grow a spine when it comes to supporting civilian rule. Echoing hyper-nationalist statements and taking out pro-Army rallies in the hopes of appeasing the powers that be is taken for what it is – a sign of weakness and desperation. Amending the Constitution to give the military more power did not build a wall that protected institutional powers, it paved the road to military rule. And it is the politicians who have allowed themselves to be taken for the ride.

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