Welcome clarity

Published October 6, 2022

WHAT is a routine administrative decision in most other states is, in Pakistan, a much-hyped melodrama that keeps the nation on tenterhooks until the baton actually passes — or remains in the hands of the incumbent. This is so because the post of army chief continues to be the most powerful office in our developing democracy.

In this regard, rumours have swirled and questions have been asked about whether COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will retire in November, or be granted a second extension. Politicians have themselves helped feed these rumours.

For example, former PM Imran Khan had said he wants a new army chief to be appointed after a “free and fair election”, implying that Gen Bajwa should be given a limited extension.

However, it is welcome that the chief himself has cleared the air where rumours over his extension are concerned. Speaking at an event at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington on Tuesday, the COAS said he would leave office after his term ended, adding that the military has distanced itself from politics, and would keep itself away from politics.

As Gen Bajwa has clarified the extension issue, the government should expedite the selection of his successor so that any remaining speculation about this key post can be quashed.

Read: Who will be the next army chief?

The general’s comment that the military would stay away from politics is also significant as the fact is that the armed forces have dominated politics in this country for most of its history, sometimes ruling directly, at others pulling the strings from behind the curtain.

In this regard, Imran Khan recently told a TV channel that the job of the intelligence agencies was to secure the country, and not “political engineering”. It is welcome that this truth has dawned upon the PTI chief, for he himself is believed to have been the beneficiary of political manoeuvring by unelected actors.

In fact, there are rumours that Mr Khan tried to mend fences with the army chief at the presidency recently, and his constant criticism of the ‘neutrals’ to shed their neutrality implies that he wants them to actively participate in politics.

Yet there can be little disagreement in principle with his call for the security agencies to stay out of politics.

Unfortunately, politicians of all persuasions have themselves often headed to Pindi and Aapbara to canvass those who matter. Therefore, there needs to be consensus amongst all political actors that matters of governance should be the exclusive domain of civilians.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...
Back to politics
Updated 29 Nov, 2022

Back to politics

PDM and PTI must realise that neither will get what they want if they keep fighting bitterly at every turn.
Election delay
29 Nov, 2022

Election delay

OF recent, leaders from the ruling PML-N have been dropping hints about a possible delay in general elections after...
Sugar woes
29 Nov, 2022

Sugar woes

IT’S that time of year again when cane growers get anxious over the delay in the commencement of the new sugar...