27 Nov 17/Monday
Having muddied all government departments and rendering them paralyzed, the Pak Army can now claim to be a specialist in brokering peace among the warring factions. In its new role the Pak Army has been credited with successfully brokering the peace deal between anti-blasphemy protesters and the government. In the midst of complete failure of the Pakistan government to establish the writ of the state, not only Pakistan was in lockdown, but the public property was destroyed, with roads jammed, shops closed in many areas, schools closed, 6 civilians killed including a policeman and 37 reportedly injured. It was a perfect example of a state’s complete failure, when the Army which was requisitioned by the Government started challenging the very logic of it being called upon to assist the civil authority. However instead of joinig the battle, Pak COAS was quick enough to extend a helping hand to broker peace.
Official sources said an understanding was reached with protesters with the help of the powerful Army to call off the protest as their key demand had been accepted and the changes made in the law had already been taken back, when parliament restored the original oath. The agreement states- agreement was brought about by COAS General Bajwa and his representative Major General Faiz Hameed as coordinator, who also signed at the bottom.
The civilian government is being criticised for backing down in the crisis, which raises new questions about the military’s role in politics in this country. However, the Army’s new role irked the judiciary to no end. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court. lashed out at the government and the powerful military for the role assigned to the Army as the “mediator” in striking the deal with the protesters to end their sit-in.
“The court had asked the government to clear the roads and not for an agreement with protestors. What you have done is surrender,” the judge told Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal.
He also used strong words against army’s role to mediate the agreement, when the minister said the agreement with the protesters was reached with the help of the Army.
“Who is the Army to play the role of mediator? Where does the law assign this role to a Major General?” he asked.
In more scathing words, the judge said the protesters could not sit at Faizabad if it were located closer to the Army’s Headquarters.
Justice Siddiqui told Iqbal that the government had constitutional right to call in Army to help civil administration in any emergency situation.
He also said the “Army chief is an officer in an institution that comes under the state” and rhetorically asked “Is he above the law?”
This unexpected reaction from the judiciary has caught the Pak Army on the wrong foot, which was rejoicing its success.