Judiciary, media contributed towards strong democracy: Little room for Army in politics now: Mushahid -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Judiciary, media contributed towards strong democracy: Little room for Army in politics now: Mushahid

ISLAMABAD — Secretary General PML-Q Mushahid Hussain Sayed on Thursday said that the strident media and an activist Judiciary have contributed to create a democratic political culture where there is a little room for a military role in politics or in governance.

Mushahid, who was a keynote speaker at the PILDAT Panel Discussion on Parliamentary Oversight of Defence in Pakistan here, said this while presenting his analysis based on a paper on the subject authored by him and published under the PILDAT banner.

The panellists included Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi, defence and political analyst, Haider Abbas Rizvi, MNA, Member Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Sherry Rehman, MNA; Member Parliamentary Committee on National Security, and Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan, MNA, and member NA Standing Committee on Defence; Member Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

Mushahid said that the so-called ‘establishment’ in Pakistan is no longer a monolithic entity as in 2007-2008, the Higher Judiciary broke with the Establishment for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

He said that only twice in Pakistan’s history Parliament’s hand has been strengthened in conducting defence oversight: first when Prime Minister Junejo had authorised the Public Accounts Committee to look into defence projects and now, almost a quarter of a century later, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani took modest steps to institutionalise Parliamentary oversight over the defence through strengthening the Public Accounts Committee, convening a high-level briefing by the Chief of Army Staff for all the top political leaders and establishing a Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

The Parliament has been briefed only twice by the ISI Chief – first under Prime Minister Junejo when the then DG ISI Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul was called in for an in-camera briefing before the Parliament and then in 2008 when the current DG ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha briefed the Parliament.

He believed that the Parliamentary Committees requires a knowledge and research-based support in order to carry out effective oversight though he cautioned the oversight mechanism need not be shrill but can be carried out in a gradual and non-confrontationist manner.

He praised PILDAT for its extensive work on the subject and its commitment to providing forums for dialogue based on research, facts and papers instead of rhetoric.

He also praised PILDAT for providing support to Parliament and Parliamentary Committees in an objective and non-partisan manner.

Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi said that in principle everyone agrees that there should be democratic control and oversight of defence in Pakistan but if Parliament and Parliamentary Committees are serious about carrying out effective oversight, they require a firm will as well as a sound knowledge base.
Source: The Nation