President Asif Ali Zardari hasn’t even completed his four-year tenure, and the all powerful Pakistani military is ready to oust him from power. In the past, when there has been in-fighting between the civilian government and the Army, the Army has always won out. But this time around, it seems that Zardari and his government will withstand the military’s challenge.
Zardari will remain in power because of the sense of disgust that Pakistanis hold for the way the military intervenes in the country’s politics. This stems from the fact that when the military has been in power in the past (ex. during Pervez Musharraf’s presidency), they have not created economic growth and they have called for war on India (which they lost), which massively hurt Pakistan’s economy.
People are equally disappointed, however, by the government, for putting Pakistan on the brink of economic collapse. But, given the options, they want their country to be run by their representatives rather than by a state which is not accountable to people. The media, which has grown more powerful and independent in recent years, has strongly criticized the military’s seizure of power.
In her article in Tribune, Nasim Zehra writes: “No coup is about to take place in a Pakistan where the independent media has ensured that every move by every player on the national power scene is examined threadbare.”
Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani has been strengthened by support of people and the media against the Army, as he has publicly condemned the Army on many occasions for considering itself to be above parliament. In one of his speeches in parliament, Gilani said:
“All institutions of the country are answerable to parliament and nobody is above law. If some individuals (the Army Chief) think they are not under the government, they are mistaken. They are under the government and they will remain under the government because we are the elected, chosen representatives of the people of Pakistan.”
Unlike the past three cases of military intervention, which the media and people supported, people seem to have gotten wrapped up in the spirit of democracy. Yes, the Army is still the most powerful institution, but it lacks the support of citizens. The Army knows this, which is why it has yet to take military action.
The Zardari-led Pakistan, under the rule of the People’s Party, will be the first government ever to outweigh the military’s influence.
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