May 2, 2017 |

Government’s actions based on the JIT report on Dawn Leaks (dismissals of two technocrats) has unfortunately resuscitated the latent fault lines in Pakistan’s political landscape.

Almost at the same time, Supreme Court’s Panama ruling has exposed the contradictions as well as the impudence of Pakistan’s ruling elites.

As far the Panama ruling, the epilogue of a recent article from former ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi (published in Dawn, May 1) comprehensively encapsulates the worrisome situation that resonated during the Panama case as well.

Pakistan is among the countries most exposed to climate change, unmanageable population growth, leadership corruption, criminally irresponsible governance, economic collapse and nuclear catastrophe. With a prime minister temporarily reprieved but permanently discredited by the supreme judiciary, ask not for whom the doomsday clock shall toll.

This quote depicts an unfortunate reality of the current day Pakistan; civilian rulers ride into power using the chariot of democracy. But once ensconced in the position of power, their focus turns to personal and party gains instead of thinking of the federation of Pakistan and its teeming millions. Personal greed and self-glorification takes precedence over good responsible governance, transparency and accountability vis a vis the electorate take the back seat.

Noted commentator Ayaz Amir rightly described this “a state of mind” during a tv show, thereby meaning that once in power, the ruling elites love to dodge and dribble the law to their advantage, often at the cost of their own claims to democracy.

Now to the Dawn leaks; the sacking, first of Pervez Rasheed, and then Tariq Fatmi and Rao Tehseen, the principal information officer, exemplifies this typical attitude; by offering the two as the scapegoats, the government naively believed it would dodge the General Headquarter (GHQ).

This the prime minister’s office despite the understanding that the report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on the Dawn report would be made public and consequences drawn.

But the notification – that was rejected through the ISPR in a direct dig at the prime minister’s office – reflected an altogether different story – contrary to what the GHQ had expected as a result of the joint investigation. It took the notification as a flagrant violation of the understanding and a side-stepping of the real issue.

While the latter i.e. side-stepping of the real issue, remains open to debate, the refusal to publish the report in its entirety and acting on its recommendation is not. It is about trust between two state institutions, which we thought had become even following the appointments of General Qamar Bajwa and Gen. Naveed Mukhtar. But the NOTIFICATION simply laid bare the assumption of a smooth relationship. And that clearly is rooted in a disagreement over an issue that is close to GHQ’s heart.

Those looking at it as a pure legal issue (the armed forces are subordinate to the civilian government) forget that in this country laws and constitutions are often applied only selectively; how can those ministers and bureaucrats being led by an undeclared, unofficial scion of the PM declare an official tweet by the GHQ – a constitutional organ of the state – as ultra vires and unconstitutional?

If the government really believes the GHQ went overboard the only option it has is to dismiss the army chief. But it knows the NOTIFICATION is a clever deflection from the real issue. It also exposes the fault-lines within the government, whereby the minister of interior says only he is authorized to dismiss the advisor on foreign affairs and the PIO.

Since the issue has dragged Pakistan’s name all over the world with regard to the civil-military relations, it would be good for both the PM House and the GHQ to indulge in consultations away from the gaze of the media. One good step would be to make public the report. Hapless millions of Pakistanis do have a right to know what the JIT found out and as to whether it concluded that the national security had been breached through the Dawn report.

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