Civil military tensions in Pakistan are by no means unusual. After all, the very crux of the story that caused the Dawn Leaks furore was that the army and government were engaged in an attempt to wrest decision-making authority from each other. Yet, rarely have we seen so public an example of the absolute defiance demonstrated as yesterday. Publicly, and with intent, the “notification” of orders to discipline persons believed to be names in the inquiry submitted from PM House were “rejected” by the spokesperson of the Armed Forces. A crisis has arisen wherein an elected Prime Minister’s orders have been roundly “rejected” by an institution that is declared to be under the command and control of the Prime Minister, as stated in Article 243 (1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Whether Mr Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister is tarred by the Panama Case, or whether there is an impending JIT investigation against him and his family, there is absolutely no justification — none — for such public defiance by a spokesperson of the Pakistan Army. Was it a poor choice of words? Or a considered one? We may never know. All that is certain is that the Prime Minister stands further weakened, and with an institution as important as the Army effectively refusing to obey Prime Minister’s orders, is there any choice left for Mr Nawaz Sharif but to seek re-election after calling an early general election?
An immediate measure must be to release the Dawn Leaks report in full. The parts of it that have ostensibly been disregarded — as indicated in the tweet of the DG ISPR — must be made public in the national interest. Meanwhile, there must be a realisation that upon the submission of the report, it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative whether to implement the recommendations in full, or only partly. This may win him admirers and detractors for various good reasons; but admirers and detractors alike must cede to this fact. The notification from a Prime Minister cannot so simply be “rejected”.