Establishment and politics – Pakistan Today

Vital issue of neutrality
Keeping in view the state of Pakistan’s political culture, one can expect a junior and less responsible political official from government or the opposition to be careless while talking about serious issues that also include civil-military relations. Statements from this category however do not attract much public attention. But when it comes to a senior politician or a federal minister, an irresponsible statement can send alarm bells ringing.
What Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said about PML-N’s top four seeking to replace Nawaz Sharif was interpreted by many as an attempt to divert attention from Defence Minister’s recent confrontation with PM Imran Khan and PTI MNA Noor Alam Khan’s harsh criticism of his own government. The idea was to convey that there were more challenges to Nawaz Sharif from his own party than to Imran Khan from the PTI. It was however quite alarming when Fawad Chaudhry claimed that the PML-N leaders had met “someone”, implying some high-up in the establishment. An earlier statement by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had roused similar feelings when he maintained that the hand that supported PM Khan would soon be on the Sharifs’ neck. Sheikh Rashid has long taken pride in being the establishment’s own man and hence his statement showing establishment’s leanings was widely debated in the media.
Many had welcomed when ISPR Chief warned that politicians should stop dragging the army into politics as it had nothing to do with it. What the statement by Fawad Chaudhry implies is that the establishment still meets politicians while the remarks by Sheikh Rashid indicate it is preparing to act against the PML-N leaders. PML-N Punjab President has categorised Fawad Chaudhry’s remark regarding four PML-N leaders having allegedly met “someone” as factually wrong. According to him if “someone” means establishment or more precisely the army Chief, no one can meet him without prior information and agenda.
Fawad Chaudhry and Sheikh Rashid are among the cabinet heavyweights and hold important portfolios. They have called into question the establishment’s claim of being neutral in politics. It is for those who matter to clear the doubts that are being created about their role.

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