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Pakistan politicians weigh civil-military imbalance in the country


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 Former Pakistan Foreign Minister and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said all three major parties in the country had suffered from the imbalance in the relationship with the military and urged efforts to rectify the past mistakes.

He made these remarks at a high-level political party leaders’ dialogue hosted by an Islamabad-based think-tank on the issue of civil-military imbalance in the country, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

This discussion saw participation from leaders of the three major political parties – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party. The discussion that took place on Wednesday was held to analyse the state of civil-military ties in the context of political instability in the country.

Senior Pakistan politicians admitted that the political parties’ use of the military as a prop has aggravated this military imbalance. They called for a national dialogue to fix this “broken relationship.”

Asking political rivals not to remain stuck in the past, Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged cooperation among all parties on this issue. “If we continue with the blame game, we won’t be able to move ahead,” he said, adding that national consensus would have to be forged on this issue.

Slamming the Shehbaz Sharif government for giving a role to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in vetting postings and appointments of government officials, he said the move would strengthen spy agency’s involvement in civilian matters.

The former minister regretted that current opposition parties did not fully implement the Charter of Democracy (COD), which they signed in 2006 for restoring the balance of power between various state institutions and reclaiming the space lost by the mainstream political parties.

The former federal minister stressed the need to study why these signatories did not fully implement CoD. “There is now a need for an expanded CoD,” he said.

Notably, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition partners – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Tuesday voiced concern over the increasing role of the country’s premier spy agency ISI on civilian affairs.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif granted the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) status of a Special Vetting Agency (SVA), thus empowering it to conduct verification and screening of all government officers before their induction, appointments and postings, as well as promotions.

Some members belonging to allied parties even criticised the prime minister for not taking the coalition partners and parliament into confidence, vowing to take the matter to the court, reported The Express Tribune.

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