Play by rules, Kayani tells all
Baqir Sajjad Syed
RAWALPINDI: Setting the ground rules for ending the politico-judicial impasse that has gripped the country since Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s conviction by the Supreme Court in the contempt case last week, Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani urged all organs of the state to adhere to their roles defined by the Constitution and stressed equal justice for all.
The Army chief’s prepared remarks at the martyrs’ day ceremony at the military headquarters were significant given that the controversy generated by the SC verdict about the future of the prime minister appeared to be descending into a full-scale political crisis after the PML-N threatened to launch an all-out movement to force Mr Gilani’s resignation.
While Gen Kayani spoke about issues ranging from the soldiers trapped beneath a massive avalanche near Siachen to sacrifices by security forces in the war on terror and troubled ties with the US because of unbridgeable mistrust, his words on respect for the Constitution and justice overshadowed other parts of his brief speech at an event organised to honour the soldiers who had lost their lives defending the country.
The carefully chosen words were seen as a caution to all sides to refrain from steps that could hurt the country. He was meticulous enough to be not seen as taking sides in the political face-off.
“The Constitution of Pakistan has clearly delineated the responsibilities and roles of the national institutions. It is now our responsibility that we resolve our issues, while remaining within the constitutional limits, in a manner that it increases respect and dignity of both our country and ourselves,” Gen Kayani said in his comments in Urdu.
The military has during most part of the country’s history wielded enormous influence in domestic politics and played a decisive role in many such crises in the past.
The government has also always insisted on respect for the limits set by the Constitution which make the parliament supreme.
Despite growing questions about the legality of the prime minister remaining in office, Gen Kayani, much to the dismay of the opposition, has regularly joined Mr Gilani at official meetings.
Gen Kayani’s remarks came at the end of a day that witnessed noisy protests in the National Assembly by the PML-N over the prime minister continuing in the office after conviction, bringing the proceedings to a standstill.
“We should never forget that after all, the sole purpose of a democratic system is welfare and prosperity of the masses and increase in their self-respect,” noted the general resplendent in his full military regalia.
At a time when questions are being raised about the stance of the judiciary vis-à-vis the present government, the army chief said: “Alongside we should strive for establishing a society that has equal justice for all.”
US TIES: While alluding to the United States, Gen Kayani decried the mistrust shown by “some outside quarters” despite the continued sacrifices by the people of Pakistan and the army. This attitude, he said, compelled review of bilateral ties. “We understand that others will have to keep in view our sovereignty, respect and dignity.”
He assured the military’s support for the unanimously approved parliamentary recommendations for a reset in ties with the US and said the army would endorse any policy framed for “protecting sovereignty and national respect” that was in line with public aspirations.
GAYARI: The army chief said no effort would be spared to recover the 139 troops and civilians buried under an avalanche at a military complex since April 7.
No worthwhile progress has been achieved over the past 23 days in the rescue operation, which has been impeded by freezing cold, an inhospitable terrain and other logistic constraints.