ASLAM Bhootani should know better than to support the idea of the army’s continued involvement in politics. Talking to newsmen in Quetta on Monday, the Balochistan Assembly speaker said the army had a role in the province and that negotiations with the nationalist groups would not be successful unless the military force was involved. In fact such views appear out of place when one considers that the tension that had at one stage assumed the proportions of an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the government and the army has been tapering off. The prime minister’s statement in parliament in December that the army had become “a state within a state”, and the army’s warning of “grievous consequences” did not lead to a derailment of the democratic process as many feared at the time. Showing good sense both sides pulled back from the brink. While it may be true that the army’s role in Balochistan is a reality and that GHQ has its own views on the province, even if the intention is to develop a consensus between the people’s representatives and the generals on the Balochistan issue, backing a role for the army in politics can only prove to be counterproductive. One has only to revisit Pakistan’s own history to be convinced of this.
Democratic governments the world over listen to their generals on security matters. But by their very training, military leaders have a one-dimensional mind. On the other hand, an elected government is not worth its salt if it does not take a holistic view, which while accommodating the military’s suggestions is not oblivious to other equally vital matters. As finally formulated, the policy of a democratic government represents the views of all segments of the executive, including the military.