Army and democracy

COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, while talking to newspaper editors and selected TV anchors in Rawalpindi on Sunday, remarked that the army would not intervene in politics. He made this statement at the beginning of his second three-year tenure in office.While there has been widespread belief that the General was a hard-core soldier interested in the army’s professional matters and would keep himself detached from political involvement that has been the practice in the past, it is good to hear him stress these points. He remarked that his priorities would include pursuing the war on terror and restoring peace to the country, apart from taking the army to the peak of professionalism. While the last is a task that any Army Chief will pursue as a matter of course, the first two are perhaps not easily mutually reconcilable.

However, General Kayani, whose second tenure was announced after the USA strongly recommended it, may have to make this particular return on his appointment, that peace be restored to the country, and the war on terror pursued, even though the easiest way to bring peace to the country would be for Pakistan to pull out of what is actually the USA’s war on the Muslims.General Kayani has said that the army would provide all support to the government in achieving this aim. As his appointment to a second term, unprecedented since the reorganization of the higher command in the 1970s, showed, the USA influences the government also, in following its agenda, it was made to seem that the army’s real commitment was to the war, and only then to the government. General Kayani probably has in mind not just the recent past, when the military imposed its own rule after overthrowing an – Nation