The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Bajwa, on Monday had a meeting with the Defense Committee of the Senate. Addressing the rumours regarding army’s involvement in the panama case and the general concerns over the security situation, and the civil military tensions; the COAS reinforced the fact that army as an institution completely and wholly supports democratic principles. They want to establish good ties with the civilian set up to improve the security lapses in the country. He also emphasized the fact that the army and he personally, are answerable to the parliament, and would always be willing to come to the Senate to answer questions and queries.
There are very positive and welcome overtures from the military, which need to be followed up by actions that reinforce this stance. Politicians and interest groups have been trying to pit the government and the military against each other for a while now and efforts have redoubled following the US announcement of an increase Afghanistan deployment and its response.
In the face of such efforts both the military and the government need to work together to dispel this notion - not only to preserve internal stability but also to present a united front to the international community.
While such statements go a long way to publically silence speculation, they must be matched by polices and visible cooperation from the civilian side too. The new cabinet has been making all the right noises on the issue of terrorism.
The Foreign Minister is speaking candidly of putting our ‘house in order”, the Interior Minister is detailing new polices and now the Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, has supported the statements made by Khawaja Asif. However, action – direct measurable action – is still missing.
If the military is truly willing to work with the government and listen to its concerns, and the government has sorted out its stance on the terrorism issue, then actionable policies shouldn’t be far behind.
We have recently witnessed how success is inevitable when the two institutions combine. The army and the government were very vigilant when it came to ensuring not only the success of the PSL final but also the World XI series. This is the precedent that should be set. Especially that in order to rid Pakistan of extremism we need to put our own house in order.
Nation, September 20, 2017