Enforcing accountability

The Armed Forces and Judiciary have their own internal accountability mechanisms. Accountability is like law; either it applies to everyone or no one.
According to the Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), in the aftermath of the May 09, 2023 incidents, two high level inquiries were conducted by the General Headquarters (GHQ) as part of the internal accountability mechanism of the army.
Amongst the sacked serving officers were one, two, and three-star Generals. Also included in the list were family members of retired four and three-star Generals.
Ayub Khan, who promoted himself as Field Marshal abrogated the 1956 constitution and imposed Martial Law in the country. Finally, when he was forced to leave in March 1969, Yahya Khan took over deposing Ayub Khan and his imposed 1962 constitution.
In the famous Asma Jilani case, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) under Chief Justice (CJ) Hamood-Ur-Rehman declared the takeovers by Ayub and Yahya illegal and ordered the release of her father, Ghulam Jilani Khan–the untiring activist for civilian supremacy and rule of law who was detained under the Martial Law orders.
As Bhutto had taken over from Yahya as Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA), an interim constitution had to be passed in 1972 under which Martial Law was lifted and Bhutto took oath of office as President. He remained in this position until the enactment of the permanent 1973 version of the Constitution.
Pervez Musharraf was tried and convicted under Article 6 of the constitution after which he had to flee the country to avoid punishment and returned only after his death.
Now that the internal accountability mechanism has started, it should also investigate the July 05, 1977 take over by Zia and the April 19, 2022 change of government when President Arif Alvi refused to take oath from the cabinet of under trial Prime Minister (PM).
Most analysts are of the opinion that the party less 1985 elections resulted in the slide down which has continued unabated with the collapse of civilian institutions and the police being hit the hardest.
Pakistan has been a constitutional democracy for half a century (from 1973 to 2023), yet the unanimous agreement between the rulers and ruled has been repeatedly violated by successive military and civilian governments. Individuals who violated the legal boundaries were never held accountable for their misdeeds.
The trial of Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 will go down in history as the hallmark of Nawaz Sharif’s political innings.
Internal Accountability can only be effective if neutrality prevails with a focus on long term institutional interests while overriding personal loyalties.
It should apply to all ranks including the four-star Generals who cross the constitutional boundaries.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com

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