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BlogWatch: Pakistan

February 3, 2012

Owing to disputes between the military, government and the judiciary, opinions across social media platforms have depicted a sense of insecurity amongst analysts and the masses in Pakistan.

Pakistani troops walk on a hilltop
The army is greatly feared in PakistanImage: AP

In its 65 years of independence, Pakistan has seen as many as four martial law regimes in power. Indeed, there has been constant friction between civil governments and the military. The country's short history has been marred by dictators, unfair legislators and corrupt politicians. More recently, events in the country have created a rather theatrical situation with the government clashing with the army and judiciary, ominous speculation circulating with respect to the military and the media going haywire over coup rumors.

Pakistan's army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
The Pakistani military holds sway over much in PakistanImage: dapd

Summing up the political situation in Pakistan, Yunas Samad, who is senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bradford, writes about the country's current woes in his blog for Hurst. According to the analyst, the National Reconciliation Ordinance row combined with the "Memogate" scandal has seriously harmed the already fragile Pakistan People's Party government, whose only credible effort was the 18th Amendment constitutional reform. Meanwhile, the military has orchestrated sequences, depicting threats to national sovereignty, which spiraled with the Raymond Davis shootings, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the attack on a military post by coalition forces in Mohmand Agency.

Yunas Samad further explains that any aggressive action from the Army could have serious repercussions for US funding as the Kerry-Lugar Bill stresses the money is to aid the civilian government in its democratic pursuits. The other major political figure, Nawaz Sharif, also has a history of confrontation with the Army, having dismissed an army chief in the 90s. He, too, is not in their good books. Under the circumstances, Imran Khan stands out as the only and obvious choice for the establishment. This should guarantee his overwhelming rise and further support for the former cricket star.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani
The judiciary has gone after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza GilaniImage: Reuters

Meanwhile, rather cynically, Waris Hussain in his blog for DAWN points towards the long history of judicially-backed military involvement in Pakistan. "The trap was set to make the court believe it was eating or guaranteeing its survival through military support, even though its long-term legitimacy and independence has always indelibly been tied to a civilian government rather than military rule," says Hussain. The writer believes that the situation is a tricky one as the army identifies and adopts new methods to influence the judiciary against civilian government, but that the future of democracy and perhaps the independence of the judiciary itself remains in how it can distance itself from the tactics displayed by the country's armed forces and its institutions.

Yasin Ali Badruddin in his blog for The Business Recorder says, "The current standoff gives an opportunity for Parliament, Judiciary and Army not only to interpret the doctrine of separation of powers in its true spirit, but also ensure strengthening of the democratic institution in Pakistan." The writer believes that no state organ should be allowed to overpower the authority of another state organ. According to Badruddin, the situation with respect to the infamous Memo Controversy is in fact promising as the Army, for a change, is acting in accordance with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Marvi Sirmed opines in her blog for the Daily Times, saying that Husain Haqqani was held accused or treated as such because the Army wanted it so. She believes that all institutions are under the influence of the Army, one way or another. Raising questions, Marvi wrote, "The head of the ISI had spoken to the leaders of some Arab states and gotten their consent to sack the present government. But no one from the media, politicians and the judiciary could ever point a finger towards General Pasha."

General view of the Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court in Islamabad wields significant powerImage: dapd

She further says that Haqqani was victimized as he was neither a general nor a brigadier. In her blog, the writer points towards the perceived unjust and unfair partiality that society confers on the military.

Recent political happenings in Pakistan and last year's array of events, ranging from Osama Bin Laden's capture and killing to deteriorating relations with the US, are also amongst the events which have been discussed at length nationally and internationally. As always, social media platforms continue to offer direct access to peoples' and analysts' sentiments towards such issues.

Author: Aasim Saleem
Editor: Darren Mara