News Analysis |

PML-N MNA Hamza Shahbaz has said that Pakistan can ill-afford a clash between state institutions. While talking to a gathering at Awaan-e-Iqbal, Lahore Hamza said that he loves his country’s police, Army, and Rangers. The remarks came hours after Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi said that Army Chief General Bajwa has every right to speak and express his views on the economy. Reiterating the point similarly made by the opposition leader of Parliament, Khursheed Shah. Abbasi said this in an interview with a private news channel, a day after Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal ended the war of words with the military by affirming that democracy is not under threat.

“If everyone is free to give their opinion on the economy, then why can’t the army chief talk about the economy,” Abbasi said in an interview on Monday. Abbasi, therefore, negated the voices asserting that the chief should only discuss such matters in the National Security Committee- the country’s apex security body.

Regardless of different analyses on the delicate issue of Civil-Military Relations, all pundits, scholars, and practitioners warn against taking to confrontation since it would hurt the country at a time when stability is most needed

The reference to the country’s skyrocketing debt was made during a keynote address at a business seminar,  by the army chief last week. However, the ensuing statements made by Ahsan Iqbal and DG ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, started framing the army chief’s statement into a budding crisis in civil-military relations.

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While defense experts identified the statement as one made in a bid to underscore the link between the economic and military planks of national power, critics and detractors turned it into a civil-military clash. The soft-spoken Abbasi quashed all rumors of a tussle with the military. He said: “There might be a difference of opinion… [but] There is no civil-military tension,” Abbasi stressed.

A realization of the need for stability is there on part of the military and the civilian leadership. The challenges faced by Pakistan; threats to its security and economic downturn, makes political instability or misadventures untenable. Observers are intrigued as to why the rumor mill continues unabated. Many watchers have noted that ever since the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and subsequent corruption references on him and his family, the ‘civil-military tensions’ conspiracy narrative has been ramped up, on each and every occasion, by not only the Sharif family but also the government.

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Many watchers have noted that ever since the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and subsequent corruption references on him and his family, the conspiracy narrative has been ramped up on each and every occasion.

Analysts are of the opinion that the confrontational politics of the PML-N is beset with one problem: the conspiracy narrative is weak because a stable PML-N government is ruling and the Parliament comprises the majority of its members.

Having said that, critics of the establishment assert that the opposition’s push for accountability of Nawaz Sharif and his family has effectively eroded civilian authority; and shifted the balance towards the military.

Regardless of different analyses on the delicate issue of Civil-Military relations, all pundits, scholars, and political leaders are warning against taking to confrontation, for personal ‘family need’, since it would hurt the country at a time when stability is most needed.

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