Pakistan

The Rangers’ saga

Oct 3, 2017
What we know after the regrettable incident outside Supreme Court on Monday is that the relations between the civil administration and the military are tense. The Rangers seized the premises of the accountability court where former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared for hearing on several corruption cases against him. Supporters of the ousted PM , including Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, under whose ministry the paramilitary force operates, was denied entry into the court.
 
Lashing out at the Rangers, Iqbal said there can’t be ‘a state within the state’. The minister also threatened to resign and said he can’t work as a ‘puppet minister’. This is not the first time a government representative has complained of ‘a state within the state’. Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani made the same accusations during the memo gate saga, and ironically, Nawaz Sharif’s party was at that time part of the efforts to remove him.
 
The Rangers need an order from the government before a deployment can take place. It appears that neither the civil administration nor the court had issued orders for the deployment. The fact that the paramilitary force that is supposed to run under the government stopped a federal minister from entering the premises of the court raises serious questions about the transparency of the whole process that is probing ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family for corruption.
 
It is still unclear as to who ordered the deployment of the Rangers if the government did not.
 
Nawaz Sharif has been complaining of hidden conspiracies by those who want to undermine civilian supremacy ever since the investigation by the JIT began. In his recent statements, the ousted PM had vowed to protect the people’s mandate and foil attempts to destabilise the democratic system. The recent episode will serve to strengthen the ruling party’s stance if a clarification by the former is not provided at the earliest.
 
We urge the opposition parties to put aside political differences and support the government against any possible institutional overreach. The opposition must remember that by playing into the hands of unelected institutions, political success may come their way but it will be short-lived. The Parliament must unite and find ways to prevent misuse of power by any unelected institution of the state. This is vital for Pakistan’s democratic future.
 
Daily Times, October 3, 2017

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