There appears to be a kind of misunderstanding among some civilians that the President of Pakistan, being the Supreme Commander of the armed forces as per the 1973 constitution, has effective/active command over the army and other services. This is an absolutely wrong interpretation of the constitution. He is, ex-officio, Supreme Commander and not effective as such. The chiefs of the army and other services are not accountable to him for the running of their respective services. In the parliamentary form of government, they are accountable and answerable to the cabinet and the Prime Minister. In practice, they are accountable to the Minister of Defence/the Ministry of Defence. They are not even supposed to meet the President for defence matters as a routine and see him only if he calls them for any specific discussion related to defence. In that case, too, they are to keep the Prime Minister/Defence Minister informed about their discussion with the President. I have spent nearly three weeks in India and stayed with a retired general. In the Indian constitution also, the President is the Supreme Commander but the Indian Army Chief seldom sees him/her. He deals only with the Ministry of Defence. In fact, his meetings even with Prime Minister are rather infrequent. His dealings are mostly with the Secretary Defence, who by tradition is the ablest ICS officer (they are still maintaining ICS while we have mucked it up with DMG and Nazim system). The British are also following the same system of civilian control-over-the armed forces as in India. Their Prime Minister is all in all. In US, however, it is different because they have a presidential form of government and the President is the effective Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C). -BRIG (Retd) ISHTIAQ ALI KHAN, Lahore Cantt., via e-mail, September 5.