Categorized | Pakistan & Kashmir

Pakistan: Compelling Army for Action


By Sajjad Shaukat

More than ten workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and two policemen were killed,

several persons were injured including policemen, while many of them were taken hostage, and

police vehicles were burnt, as pitched battles took place between the followers of PAT chief

Dr. Tahirul Qadri and police in different cities of Punjab on August 8 and 9, this year when

PAT activists clashed with police in Model Town, Lahore after the city and the province of

Punjab were virtually sealed off by the authorities with containers and barricades to stop the PAT

workers’ participation in their Youm-e-Shuhada (Martyrs Day).

Acting upon similar planning of the civil government, in a crackdown, police has also arrested

several workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and detained motorcycles to prevent its

supporters from reaching Islamabad in connection with August 14 long March (Azadi March)

along with their leader Imran Khan who said that he would sit there as long as his demands are

not met by the government.

While criticizing the present government of PML (N) led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and

his brother Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of the Punjab province, PTI chief Imran Khan on

August 3 vowed to end what he termed is the ‘Sharif family monarchy’ in the country by his

Azadi march. Khan explained that there was no real democracy in Pakistan, and the sit-in at

Islamabad will not end until a ‘new Pakistan’ is made.

Meanwhile, in a press conference, on August 11, Imran Khan revealed as to how PML (N),

Najam Sethi, an employee for Geo TV was made PCB chairman as a gift of rigging in the polls,

while the ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice

Khalilur Rehman Ramday including other high officials also played his role in this regard.

It is notable that some analysts are indicating differences of opinion between Imran and Qadri,

when they talks about revolution in the country. But fact remains that pointing out rigging

in the polls and the multiple problems faced by the country as well as the people, in one way

or the other, both Imran and Qadri pledged to make a new Pakistan, and they are not against

democracy. Their real intent is that the entire electoral exercise is deeply flawed. Hence, they

emphasized the introduction of electoral reforms in Pakistan, because the issue is that this

corrupt system must go. Now, Tahirul Qadri has also announced that his revolution march will

also join Imran’s long march on August 14.

In the recent past, Imran Khan contacted various political and religious parties like PPP, MQM,

PML-Q, JI and PAT to increase pressure on the PML-N government for overhauling the Election

Commission of Pakistan (ECP) due to the rigging in the general elections 2013. The PPP leader

of the opposition Syed Khurshid Shah had also endorsed Imran Khan’s call for resignation of all

members of the ECP. In these developments, some analysts had remarked that a grand alliance

of the political parties will be concluded for mid-term elections or a massive movement could be

launched against the rulers.

Now, the tension has increased between the ruling party on the one side and PTI, PAT PML-
Q on the other in wake of police crackdown and violent clashes. In this respect, some ministers

has been saying that Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri want to create civil war in the country like

Egypt and Libya, and they will be responsible for martial law in the country. While on August

8, PTI chief Imran Khan said, “If the army steps in, it will be because of you…the high-handed

measures (that the government) is taking…we have the right to peaceful protest. If they try to

stop it, then there is likely to be violence.” He elaborated that when he was demanding justice, no

While condemning the strict measures by the government, and deployment of Army in

Islamabad, under the pretext of article 245 of the constitution, various leaders including the

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Sirajul Haq and the PPP leader Syed Khurshid Shah who tried to

defuse the tense situation through dialogue urged the government not to try to stop the PTI long

march on the Independence Day, as peaceful protests are part of democracy. They also hinted

that military can take over in the drastic circumstances. Besides, some other political leaders

and analysts have also been stating that the ongoing system of democracy can be derailed, and

martial law can be imposed in the country.

It is mentionable that in May 11, 2014, country-wide protest rallies led by leaders of PTI and

PAT, PML-Q and JI were held against the rigging in the elections, demanding a corruption-free

state, instead of a system that brought corrupt politicians in parliament. In this context, Tahirul

Qadri and Imran Khan stated in their speeches that there was no parliament, and denied the

presence of democracy, constituted of good governance and purity, as the country is being ruled

by some particular families, while poor people of the country are deprived from basic necessities.

Undoubtedly, democracy has displayed its success in the west, but, it has proved to be fruitless

in Pakistan. Therefore, it is generally said that “any instrument can be misused.” Pakistan’s

politicians and media have always claimed that they nourish democratic ideals, but, we could not

establish this system on a strong footing due to irresponsible approach of our political entities

including responsible media.

Past experience proves that our political parties have worked on undemocratic principles

like hostility for the sake of hostility, formation of alliances and counter-alliances to win the

elections. Much time is wasted in retaliation against the previous government instead of fulfilling

the promises, made with the voters during election campaign. So, they forget the real aim of

public mandate by resolving the economic and social problems of the masses. In this context,

they also misguide the general masses by forming extreme opinion among them towards their

opponents. In fact, concentration of wealth in few hands has created a privileged class of

landowners and industrialists who contest elections winning the same against each other again

During the election campaign, they employ all means, fair or foul to defeat their opponents

and capture political power. They mislead the general masses through, false propaganda and

Besides, various mal-practices such as horse-trading, nepotism, bribery, illegal obligations and

other forms of corruption are very common among our political leaders. Past experience also

shows that an alliance of different parties is formed to launch a mass movement to topple the

government, which ultimately leads to military rule in the country when there is no third option,

because state can not survive in anarchy.

It is noteworthy that in 2011, during the Memogate case, some political entities and media

commentators were saying that martial law will be imposed in the country. The then Chief of

Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stated, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to

support democratic process in the country.” As Army was acting upon the principle of non-
interference in political affairs, therefore, the previous government completed its tenure.

However, in case of Pakistan, it is owing to the lack of pre-conditions for the success of

democracy like education, tolerance, responsible media and political consciousness that general

masses become an easy prey to the system, conducted by shrewd politicians who deceive the

At this critical juncture, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted crises such as soaring prices, energy-
shortage, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities etc. Besides, the country has

perennially been facing subversive activities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and

other parts of the country where security forces and law-enforcing agencies are coping with the

militants. And our Armed Forces are successfully obtaining their objectives in North Waziristan

Agency (NWA) through military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists who had challenged

the writ of the state, and had frightened the entire nation by their terror-acts.

Nevertheless, in wake of the present political unrest which is turning to violence, we must know

that it has been created by the rival politicians themselves, not by military. If there seems to be

no compromise particularly between the PTI-PAT and the ruling party PML (N), Armed Forces

which are already coping with external and internal threats as part of their duty are responsible

to tackle the unresolved challenge. So, our own politicians can compel Army to take action, as

everyone wants that civil war-like situation must be avoided.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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