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Level playing field

The Army has served up a delicious sliver of irony. It stands accused of being out of the barracks for the last five years as well as pre-emptively manipulating this month’s elections. Yet debunking such claims was not left to, say, the caretaker Prime Minister. But, rather, to the director general Inter-Services Public Relations (DGISPR).
Indeed, Maj Gen Ghafoor, while conducting an impressive press conference, sought to reassure everyone that the military establishment is simply playing a supporting role in terms of security come polling day. This is understandable and appreciated. After all, in the run-up to and throughout the last elections certain militant groups declared war on political parties. Today, many of those who support a not dissimilar ideology are contesting the ballot. With some enjoying complete military protocol as they hit the campaign trail.
Be that as it may, the DG ISPR made an earnest appeal to underscore that the men in khaki respect the sanctity of the vote. After all, said Gen Ghafoor, whomsoever assumes the premiership will be left alone to do his job. Meaning that the establishment is “no one” to thwart the will of the people. And given that the Prime Minister can be anybody — “who are we [the Army] not to accept anybody?”
Such candour by those in uniform is a rare occurrence here in this country. Yet, as with most things, actions speak louder than words. Thus we call on the DG ISPR to take due notice of the allegations made by both the PMLN and PPP of behind-the-scenes interference. Regarding the former, there have long been allegations of a witch-hunt to eliminate Nawaz Sharif’s party from the electoral process that has played out in corruption charges against him.
Yet while the former PM’s detractors conveniently dismiss such conspiracies as a question of the sourest of grapes — sources within the PPP have, too, begun talking in hushed whispers of how PMLN members have been coerced into either breaking with party ranks to run as independents or else forced into joining PTI ranks.
And now the PPP itself complains of being targeted. With party co-Chairman and former President Asif Ali Zardari’s close aides being rounded up on money-laundering charges. It is, he says, a message directed at him personally.



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