An extended question.

AS the year hurtles towards its end, few would deny these past months have brought us many firsts, where our politics has been concerned. And among these firsts, is the rather public and open discussion on the next army chief's appointment.

Not only is there discussion but a political one, accompanied by conjecture and sweeping statements about leanings and biases. Who has differences with which political leader and who may lean a certain way.

This has upset many who were used to times past and traditions now abandoned, when democratic-minded journalists did not spend so much time discussing a military appointment; those of us who have been around for some time have all heard the story of one former editor of Dawn who said the appointment of a new chief didn't merit more than a single column on the back page (if I remember it correctly). Neither are people comfortable with public discussions about the political leanings of those in the run.

But at one level perhaps the one-column display is simply a reflection of our hopes of what should be, and the incessant discussion these days mirror our reality in which an appointment has become so central to our polity.

Regardless of how correct it is, there are few out there who do not believe that what happens next in our politics is dependent on the new man in uniform. That the life of the current government and the future of PTI will become clear once December rolls in. And this widespread perception should be worrying, for us all.

The military has after all played a central role in politics, for decades. There have been tussles before between the chiefs and prime ministers, as well as smooth moments, but the politics of the civilians was never able to penetrate the fortress of the institution, where individuals rarely mattered. Now, however, this seems a story of the past.

Power structures have transformed to make extensions irresistible.

What is the reason for this change? Is it just the presence of social media where sweeping statements can be made about who may lean which way without any consequences, and perceptions are created to compete with reality?

Indeed, the influence of social media cannot be denied.

But there is also the political leadership. If the two most popular political leaders will speak unrelentingly about the role of the establishment, it will do much to shape public opinion.

After all, Imran Khan has spoken time and again in his speeches since April of the role played by the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT