The AHRC appreciates the Prime Minister’s resolve to place the army under civilian rule

President Asif Ali Zardari’s return to Pakistan from Dubai, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s comments on the floor of national assembly and the conclusions & recommendations by the PPP core committee reveal Pakistan Peoples Party resolve to take on undemocratic forces that are out to topple civil elelected government.

Implicit in the remarks the premier made to the National Assembly floor that a “state within [a] state will not be acceptable,” & “We will have to come out of this slavery. If we remain subordinate to this system, then there is no need for parliament,” was the argument that parliament must come out of this slavery. He was right. The civilian govt has tried every thing to appease powerful security establishment but still nothing works. As Gillani’s comments attest, govt does recognize the flaws in it’s old approach to security establishment, where it not only defended, but has always emboldened and motivated the image of security forces on all issues ranging from Mumbai attacks to the OBL raid.

The prime minister had said, “the government stood by the armed forces at the bleakest of hours – over a storm of American pressure after the OBL raid, the Nato attack at border posts on November 26, 2011 and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.”

In Pakistan, the military ruling directly for more than half its 64-year history after a series of coups & still the country’s chiefs not ready to accept the new democratic civilian order and the supremacy of elected representative Parliament.

Now, the PPP-led govt has decided to assert parliament’s independence, supremacy and control over all governmental institutions. It’s imperative that all political parties, civil society organizations and media must get on the same page, so that Pakistan can get rid of unrepresentative anti people order.

Though the clarification from the Army chief is welcome & well-taken since it dispels the doubts in some part of the democratic circles, yet the civilian government & security establishment are not on the same page particularly on the crucial memo issue. There is the complete difference of views between the government’s response filed with the court and those of the Army and the ISI chiefs. So danger is still high.

Instead of supporting civilian supremacy Pakistan Muslim League-N vows to resist any possible `govt move` to sack the military and intelligence leadership & it’s chief Nawaz Sharif brings new intrigue to harm the democratic transition, to topple the People’s Party-led civilian elected government and to restore his fallen fortunes. After failing to convince the entire nation to his decision to taken the memo issue to the Supreme Court. Now he came up with a tricky piece of advice for the Pakistan People’s Party-led government: go for early elections in order to salvage credibility. He is urging the government to hold early elections.

The PML-N & it’s chief do not forget that the prime minister does have the constitutional power to remove Chief of Army Staff & Mian shaib as a chief executive had exercised that constitutional power when he sacked General Pervaiz Musharraf, which eventually resulted in the abrupt end of his heavy mandate in a dramatic military coup.

If the PMLN wants to change the present PPP-led govt then it must use constitutional method, go to parliament & move a vote to no confidence. This is apparently not the time to trap & terrorize the civilian government and dislodge it before its mandated term in office. Every one should respect constitution, election results & govt’s mandate.

The Asian Human Rights Commission appreciates the PPP resolves to restore democratic order and to place the security & intelligence establishment under civilian rule. The following is the complete text.

The Prime Minister has accused the Pakistan army of hatching conspiracies against the elected parliament and government. The PM, in an address to the National Assembly session, has hinted that conspiracies are being hatched to ‘pack up the elected government’ pointing at the army and making a strong assertion that parliament is the highest of all the state organs. He declared that all the state organs, including the military, are answerable to the parliament and the government would not allow anyone to claim to be state within a state.

Prime Minister Gillani’s speech was the outcome of the statements submitted in the Supreme Court by the Chief of Army Staff and the chief of the ISI, the inter services intelligence agency, in the case of the ‘Memo Gate Scandal’ wherein the former Ambassador to the US was implicated by a Pakistani-American businessman for writing a memo to former chief of the US army to use his offices to stop the Pakistani Army and ISI making a coup against the civilian government. Through the memo the Pakistani-American businessman was also accusing that President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Zardari, being a boss of the Ambassador was involved in writing a letter against his own military top brass.

During the submission of the affidavits in the Supreme Court, the Chief of Army Staff and the chief of the ISI have submitted their own statements showing their disassociation with the federal government. Through their affidavits a strong message was sent to the nation that the Pakistan army is above the government and does not respect the civilian governance and the Parliament. In addition to their arrogance they also have not followed the formal procedure by sending their affidavits through the Federal government of Pakistan. A statement was submitted by the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence declaring that the government does not have operational control over the army and the ISI. It was a clear sign that the army did not recognize the civilian government and the Parliament.

The Pakistan Army is acting like a wild and unrestrained animal in its efforts to overthrow or undermine the elected government and the Parliament and has started its own probe into the Memo Gate Scandal without taking prior permission from the government. The army took the help of some politicians and media houses who were nourished during the former military governments in order to agitate and start a smear campaign against the civilian setup. These groups, on the alleged guidance of the ISI, made the Memo Gate issue a direct threat to the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. The opposition party in the Parliament, instead of participating into the inquiry by the Parliamentary committee on defence, filed a case in the Supreme Court to appease the army and the ISI so that the army should also become party in the case against the government.

Prime Minister Gillani’s strong message against any military conspiracy to take over the country was highly welcomed by the citizens of Pakistan who have faced 32 out of the 64 year old history of the country under military control. They watched in helpless despair as the country became a security state and all fundamental rights, including the right to have the government of their own choice, usurped.

Prime Minister Gillani’s stand on the issue of the army’s conspiracy was not new. He has, in fact, mentioned many times that there were conspiracies against the Parliament and the civilian government but until now, has never mentioned the army and ISI. It was first time he pointed his finger towards the powerful military establishment. He also pointed out that Osama Bin Laden was able to remain safely in the country for six years while the army turned a blind eye to his presence. He also questioned as to who had authorised this. Indeed, this is a question that the Pakistani people have been asking. The army hierarch have, arrogantly, ignored this issue and instead pointed the finger at the Americans for their high handed actions and took shelter behind the Anti-America sentiments.

The Asian Human Rights Commission appreciates the strong stand of Prime Minister Gillani and the members of the Parliament in taking the people into their confidence on the issue of the conspiracies hatched by the army. Since 1958 the army has never allowed a civilian government to see out its full term under the Constitution of the land. It has always abrogated the Constitution in taking over the country. Whenever the people have been allowed to form the government of their choice the army has always remained in the background putting a halt to the efforts of the elected government to effectively govern the land.

Throughout the 64 year history of Pakistan there has been almost ceaseless interference and conflict between the army and the civil government and this was even extended to the judiciary when the previous dictator, General Musharraf imprisoned judges of the Supreme Court, judges of the higher courts and even the Chief Justice himself.

The AHRC fully appreciates the announcements of the Supreme Court on several occasions that it would never again allow a military dictatorship or any unconstitutional action by the armed forces. These assertions by the Chief Justice and the judiciary have strengthened the civilian government to stand firm against the military conspiracies. The AHRC urges the government to remain firm in its resolve to ensure democracy, rule of law and the provision of fundamental rights to the people of the land. The government must take this opportunity of putting the military firmly in its place as the servant of the people, not their rulers.