By Gen ® Aslam Beg
What happened during the last few months was ‘a crisis period’ for the state institutions, drifting in a state of helplessness to handle an ordinary matter of the state. Luckily it was the unexpected intervention by the “marginalized right” that saved the system from being wrapped-up. The Deep State working on both sides of the divide, created the crisis. The Deep State, as defined by the social scientists means:
“The real government that exists beneath the surface, as shadowy conspirators, who use street power, to thwart the agenda of the sitting government, skillfully manipulating the power of the state institutions.”
The Deep State marshaled the marginalized right under the leadership of Maulana Fazalur Rahman close to Islamabad in massive strength “ready to breach the barriers of D-Chowk, confront the Army and hand-over the besieged state to the rampaging mob.” Luckily Maulana was warned of the conspiracy well in time, that he was being used as the escapade for the sinister purpose. He held back, retreating to Plan B and C. Such conspiracies had succeeded in the past, with Army leading. Here the Army was the target.
Let us have a look at the 1999 Army take-over: 14 August 1998, Pakistan Awami Ittehad (PAI) led by PPP, demonstrated its power at Nishter Park Karachi. The next day when we assembled at Bilawal House for the critique, Nawabzada blurted out “Now it is one point agenda – “Hatao Nawaz Sharif.” Mohtarma supported him. I left PAI, and promptly they formed GDA, comprising PPP. ANP, MQM, Tehreek-e-Insaaf and Nawabzada’s eleven parties group.
The GDA coalition partners called on me, led by late Ajmal Khattak wanting me also to join the band wagon. Explaining the objective he said: “The Movement will create the desired effect for the Army to take-over”, elections will be held in 90 days and GDA will form the government. I regretted saying “You have come to the wrong person. Army will never hold elections and you all will be kept waiting.” As expected General Musharraf struck on 12 October 1999 and ruled for well over ten long years.
Maulana managed to extricate himself from the perilous situation. In the process, he has gained a lot of political space, because of his “power show.” Now, he will be able to win more number of National Assembly seats, to enter into the main-stream national politics.
On the other side of the divide, something equally sinister has happened. The manner, in which the government processed the case for the grant of service extension to Army Chief, is really pathetic. As the Supreme Court took over the matter into its own hands, the government panicked as if it had committed a crime and surrendered the right to “stick to the convention” of granting extension to the Army Chief. As a matter of fact, five Army Chiefs, three Naval Chiefs and one Air Chief had been granted service extension during the last seventy years.
The extension granted to General Kiyani was challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, but the Honourable Court rejected the petition as they had no jurisdiction to take up the case under article 199(3) of the Constitution. How could the present Honourable Court now grant six months extension of service to General Bajwa and pass-on the matter to the Parliament for decision?
Something very intriguing has happened. The government granted extension after approval by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the President, but only a few days later yielded, as if it had committed something unlawful. The Honourable Court took-up the matter for decision over which it had no jurisdiction. Now the parliament has to solve the puzzle.
The government should be thankful to Maulana for saving the grace. Let them be drawn into the mainstream politics of the country, than to exist as non-entities, blamed for all the ills, they are not responsible for. It may also be proper to investigate as to who all are the perpetrators of this conspiracy, that could so seriously compromise national security.
(The writer is a former COAS, Pakistan. He can be reached at email@example.com)