Monday, November 26, 2012

Pakistani military agitated with judiciary: Report

The Pakistani security establishment feels extremely agitated over a plethora of statements coming from the highest judicial circles, coupled with some recent court decisions which it believes were tantamount to undermining the Pakistan Army as an institution which should have been credited not only for strengthening democracy but also for ensuring the independence of the judiciary, news reports said .

Even though the restoration of the superior judiciary in 2009 became possible due to combined struggle of the lawyers, civil society, political parties and media, there are those in the security establishment who think otherwise and insist that the defiant judiciary owes its current independence to Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani who had played a vital role at the time of the March 2009 long march by the opposition to ensure the restoration of 100-plus deposed judges of superior courts, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, The News reported Friday.

The most recent development which seems to have really angered the establishment is the acceptance of an application by the Islamabad High Court, challenging the extension given to General Kayani as Army Chief in 2012.

But the most disturbing aspect of the petition for the khaki leadership is the impression created by the petitioner that the COAS was indulging in politics. Col (R) Inamur Rahim, the petitioner, has alleged in his November 12 application with the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court that the COAS had issued a political statement on November 5.

While seeking an early hearing of his intra-court appeal challenging Kayani’s extension, the petitioner has maintained that the November 5 statement by the Chief of Army Staff has disturbed the civil society and caused fears about the future of democracy in Pakistan.

The Colonel, who was subjected to severe torture on November 14 in Rawalpindi by unidentified assailants, has maintained in his November 12 application to the IHC Chief Justice: “Had General Kayani ever been a person subject to the Army Act 1952, he would not have dared to issue a political statement (advising the state institutions not to cross the limits prescribed in the Constitution) which is in clear violation of the oath of the office of a legitimate Army Chief”. 

A division bench of the IHC has accepted the application and put off the hearing of the case till the third week of November.

The Army Chief had stated on November 5 while talking to a group of Army officers in Rawalpindi: “Weakening of institutions and trying to assume more than one’s due role will set the country back. No individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest”.

While the judicial circles in Islamabad believe that General Kayani’s statement carried veiled challenges to the superior judiciary, those in the military establishment insist that it was purely a non-political statement in which General Kayani had not named any of the institutions or individuals.

But the fact remains that Kayani had spoken the day (on November 5) Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry addressed the participants of the National Management Course in Lahore and redefined the term national security by describing the Supreme Court as the absolute authority with regard to the national interests of the state and adding that weapons alone could no longer assure national security.

It is largely assumed that General Kayani’s statement, which was officially provided to the media by the ISPR, was directed towards the superior judiciary whose verdict in the Asghar Khan case has not gone down well with the khakis.

However, a senior khaki official said General Kayani’s statement actually reflected the concerns of an important state institution which is being undermined not only by a ‘hyper active judiciary’ but also by an ‘increasingly reckless media’.

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