"The government had adopted a posture of complete neutrality. This created a peculiar situation and encouraged fissiparous and divisive tendencies. It was a strange sort of a GHQ, which either by design or default, allowed political argument to develop in a political vacuum created by its own absence, sort of a strategic withdrawal from the political scene.'

One could be forgiven for thinking that the passage above is a befitting commentary on the current political scenario, where the catchphrase being used in political discourse for the last seven to eight months has predominantly been the word 'neutral.'

In actual fact (with the words 'martial law administration' substituted with the abbreviation GHQ), the statement above has been taken from Brig (retd) A.R. Siddiqi's book East Pakistan The End Game: An Onlooker's Journal 1969-1971.

Though an excruciatingly painful account of the last seven months of united Pakistan and Gen Yahya Khan's hubristic, supremely arrogant, ill-conceived and fateful decision to unleash Operation Searchlight on Dhaka on March 25, 1971, the book's theme is all the more evocative in today's context.

That the military mindset and approach which looms large on our politics has not changed an iota for at least half a century, is quite a disturbing thought. This begs a few pertinent questions: have our politicians been able to strengthen democratic institutions at the expense of the army's overreach? Does a sizeable majority of the budding as well as old school politicians perceive a degree of success in politics without the endorsement - tacit or blatant - of the military, impossible?

The tactics used by Pakistan's army generals to cling on to power are regularly rinsed and repeated. Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's recently completed tenure has some stark similarities to an earlier ignominious period in the country's history

Historically speaking, in Pakistan, public pronouncements by the army of stepping back from the maelstrom of politics have been a recurring event, and have only happened, cynics would argue, to regroup and re-enter the arena with a new game plan, but with the same underlying theme - how to 'cleanse' the system and create a conducive atmosphere to hold free and fair elections.

Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa's wish to extract another extension, on the pretext of taking the country towards economic and political stability from the turbulence which he and his coterie of generals had meticulously incubated...

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