BY: |Hamid Mir|

Many Pakistani politicians have this quality of being a tough opposition to the government, but when in power they fail to replicate this performance and not only do they deceive their electorate but also themselves Please don’t assume I mean Imran Khan by that In fact, I mean Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. When they were both in power in the centre, they were always at loggerheads with the judiciary.

Zardari lost his PM Yusuf Raza Gilani in the process, whereas Sharif in his reign tried to become ‘Lohay ka Channa’ (tough nut to crack) for the Judiciary and even challenged the so-called ‘Khalai Makhlooq’ (establishment). Moreover, Sharif’s party PML-N through its social media cell even laid a tirade of verbal assaults against certain state institutions. But since Sharif has been jailed and Zardari is being intimidated by threats of being jailed, both PMLN and PPP have reduced their attacks to only PM Imran Khan.

In August 2018, JUI-F & MMA Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman put efforts to unite both PPP and PMLN, in a bid to prevent Khan from becoming PM. Both Sharif and Zardari rebuked Maulanas efforts due to their strong convictions that Khan will suffer the same fate as them, as he only knows how to be in opposition, not the other way round. And we saw, after assuming office of PM, Khan seemed very confident, seeking initially just 3 months to turn Pakistan around & bring about his promised tabdeeli (change). Those 3 months went by but nothing changed, although during that time Sharif was in jail and Zardari was busy appearing before courts, seeking bail in various cases Khan then started asking for 6 months. It was assumed that the Premier will smoothly pass his 6 months, but on 15th January and before this government could pass its sixth month, all opposition parties in the parliament announced the formation of a joint alliance. A member of a coalition party of the government inquired from the joint-opposition about a no-confidence motion against Khan and when to expect it, because their party was also not happy with the progress of current government and the promises it had made to this coalition partner at the time of their union, and would now like to oust Khans govt?

A veteran opposition member told that coalition partner to the government to hold their horses, as the joint-opposition would rather see Khans government implode rather than claim political martyrdom through a vote of no confidence Opposition parties know very well that by ousting Khan, even they won’t be able to run a smooth government, since Khan would be back to his forte of being in the opposition again. Therefore, they are waiting for Khan to make same mistakes as they did when they were in power. PPP, from 2008-2013, did complete its five years in government, but got their PM disqualified. PMLN, from 2013-2018, also completed their tenure but got their PM disqualified, as well. Now both these parties want the parliament, formed in 2018, to complete its 5-year tenure in 2023, but ideally want the judiciary to play its role in disqualifying Khan’s government, so that political scores can be settled. To make this plan work, the opposition is currently looking for a few solid scandals against Khan, so they can bring these before the Courts. They are sure just like Aleema Bajis (Khans sister) offshore properties scandal, a ‘brothers’ scandal will be coming out very soon, which will leave a lot of government ministers red-faced.

The opposition alliance has formed at a time when the government needs help from opposition benches to get extension for Military Courts. However, looking at the government’s conduct, one can easily assume that they’re not really interested in giving military courts an extension, but are toying with the idea. The opposition on the other hand is also not united on this issue. A few senior PMLN leaders support the idea of another extension, whereas partys majority is against it. But the PPP, from top to bottom, is not ready to lend support to Military Courts extension for the third time. After the tragedy of APS in 2014, all parliamentary parties had swallowed a bitter pill & voted for creation of Military Courts for two years, to better fight terrorism, by means of 21st Constitutional amendment. But Sharif, as PM in 2017, extended Military Courts for another 2 years. If both PMLN & PPP in 2017, the government & opposition at the time respectively, had not agreed to the extension then the Military Courts would not have gotten their second extension. But, in return for this compromise did any of them get any appreciation? Will PPP agree to Military Courts third extension if they get a pat on the back? The word in PPPs inner circles is NO and if Shehbaz Sharif, in larger interest of the nation, carries on lobbying for Military Courts third extension, the opposition alliance might soon be in shambles.

Question is, why is another extension in duration of Military Courts not being taken seriously? Well, the argument is if the targets these courts were set to achieve couldn’t be achieved in 4 years, then this is enough to imply that Military Court experiment has been a failed one. In fact, formation of Military Courts is a testimonial to the failure of our judicial system. This same judicial system finds it very easy to convict & punish politicians, serving members of Parliament & Senate or even a serving PM, but to convict & punish a terrorist it seeks help from the Armed forces? The assigned job of Armed forces is to defend the Country. Army, Judiciary and Parliament must do their constitutionally assigned jobs.

Any Parliament and Judiciary that assigns the country’s Army to run courts is denounced on the streets in words that cannot be mentioned here. Since their creation in 2015, Military Courts have heard over 700 cases, out of which 478 cases have been decided, the rest are pending. Although, many ‘hard core terrorists’ were punished by the Military Courts, but despite Peshawar High Courts ruling, the Military Courts did not pursue a case against ex-spokesman of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ehsanullah Ehsan. Isn’t it the right of APS martyrs parents to know why Ehsanullah Ehsan, who is with the State for over two years, cannot be tried in Military Courts or for what services is he being provided this courtesy?

In my opinion, this matter should openly be debated in the parliament and the nation must know why politicians only say alluring things when theyre in opposition, but when in power they start creating Military Courts, contrary to the spirit of democracy? Isnt it about time that the Military is left alone to do its real job & not dragged into Judicial matters? Every man (institution) to his own trade, no?