On page 82 of its manifesto PML-N pledged that it will ensure that all institutions, whether civil or military, including those dealing with security and intelligence matters, act in accordance with the law, and under the instructions and directives of the Federal Cabinet.
Though, the Constitution of Pakistan clearly mentions that the military will work under the domain of federal government. However, it is exactly the opposite because for decades, Pakistan’s federal government has been controlled by the military establishment.
Ideally, the chief executive of the country which is the prime minister has to be in the driving seat starting from the budgets to appointments and operations of the leading military intelligence agencies of the country – military intelligence (MI) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are unfortunately controlled by the GHQ since decades.
Whenever an attempt has been made by the civil governments to engineer a policy shift in Pakistan’s foreign affairs and security calculus, they failed, except during a very brief period (1973-1977) under the premiership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who controlled and directed the country’s foreign and security affairs following which he was also thrown out of power by the military dictator Zia ul Haq.
However, the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in Pakistan’s history took place recently in 2013, but still Pakistan’s democracy remains under the shadow of the army for several reasons.
To track the promise, Truth Tracker contacted former adviser to the Prime Minister, Mussadiq Malik. He added that “I am not representing the government anymore that is why I would not comment on this issue till I get any position. Currently, I am not in a position to answer it.”
After which we contacted close aide of Sharif Family and an MNA from Faisalabad, Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan.
He added that we admitted our best efforts to fulfill this promise and for that very reason we made sure during our tenure that ISI and other intelligence institution whether civil or military work as per law and under the directives of Prime Minister and his cabinet do not cross their domain. “Whether we succeeded in that or not, only time could tell that,” said Rana Afzal.
Truth tracker also tried contacting state ministers Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha and Marriyum Aurangzeb and former federal minister for information and broadcasting Pervaiz Rasheed but they neither replied to the text messages nor answered our repeated calls.
Spokesperson of PPP President Asif Ali Zardari and veteran leader, Senator Farhatullah Babar also tabled a private member bill in senate in 2012 seeking that the ISI should be answerable to parliament and the prime minister but it was deferred.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said that on the issue of correcting the distorted civil-military relations the PML-N in its manifesto promised more than what it could deliver. It was doomed to fail.
“Instead, the PMLN should have reinforced its commitment to adhere to the chapter on civil-military relations in the charter of democracy (COD) instead of making new tall claims,” he said.
Senator Babar said it would have made it easier for other parties to support it but PML-N failed.
Veteran journalist and Pakistan’s former high commissioner to United Kingdom, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, affirmed that manifestos of political parties in Pakistan mostly contain hollow words and hence are of little worth.
Wajid said, “Previously manifesto committees were formed, debate and discussion took place as to sort out what could be promised as doable and what were to be just slogans like building a bridge where there was no river.”
He added that PML-N believes that manifestos are just promises not to be delivered. There have been three PML-N governments, each time they promised rule of law, independence of judiciary and everything under the Sun.
“And every time it either ended ransacking the Supreme Court, staging a coup against the Chief Justice, purchasing superior judges or outright intimidating the judges as they did recently,” he added.
Wajid said that when the time comes for appointment of judges they fill the vacancies with their cronies. PML-N leadership remains in a confrontationist mould in order to establish its personalized rule undermining all institutions especially the army.
“Prime minister believes in having his domestic servant as army chief, he attempted many times and lost. Currently one can judge by the fact that today while the apex judiciary is asserting its independence, it finds Army Chief on the same page as guarantor of rule of law,” he said.
Wajid affirmed that in economic matters PML-N leadership is not interested in general welfare of the people, their basic needs, healthcare or providing employment. It believes in initiating expensive projects with meaty commission for the coffers of its readers.
“In Pakistan’s biggest province people are dying due to lack of even minimal Medicare, potable water, sanitation and lawlessness. Country’s resources are being spent on grand projects like Orange train, Metro bus in which bulk of budget is syphoned off into off sure accounts,” he said.
Acclaimed journalist and analyst, Raza Rumi told Truth Tracker that PMLN did not build strong cabinet and parliamentary institutions to oversee security. Their approach is personal, ad hoc and that’s why they have had many issues.
“But foremost of these issues is that the army continued to mistrust Sharif and from the time he carried out former dictator, Musharraf’s trial, they were at loggerheads with Nawaz. The rest is history,” he said.
After going through the arguments of two independent journalists and analysts, senior member of the opposition and close aide of Mian Nawaz Sharif we could safely say that this promise was not fulfilled and it is broken.