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Politicians and pressure

Politics is not a transparent trade anywhere in the world. Politicians spin facts and manoeuvre situations tactfully, without indulging in falsehood or deception, to outclass their opponents and win public support. Admission of compromises and blunders are also part politicians’ lives. Pakistani politics, however, is a different ballgame where politicians keep facts to themselves, leaving it to historians to unearth them amid clouds of controversies. It is, however, a good change that lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-N are gradually talking of the pressure their leadership faced to support the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act in Parliament. At a session of ThinkFest in Lahore, PML-N MNA Khurram Dastgir Khan spoke of pressure on the party leadership for the legislation, without revealing much of the pressure tactics and what the leadership earned out of the deal. He said if there was any pressure to vote for the Army Act, it was on our leadership, not on MNAs. This also points to how the leadership prevails in legislative matters, and how helplessly legislators follow the party lines. He said even though the parliamentary party discussed the act in detail, an unexpected incident occurred just before the parliament session which turned the tables on the opposition. He, however, remained short of sharing details of the ‘interesting’ development that forced the opposition to change their mind. The revelation brings the point home that that the army’s role in politics cannot be denied. The revelation is not surprising but it should be used sparingly, and only for the matters to strengthen the state.
Politicians have often shown unity, despite having differences with each other, on matters like the National Action Plan, fight against terrorism and military courts. In recent days, the army’s increasing role in strengthening the economy and some foreign policy matters has also hit the headlines. Not denying the fact that the army can bring all parties on the same page, it is important for the armed forces that their involvement should not give the impression that their actions are meant to strengthen one party and weaken others. Also, whenever there is army intervention in civil and political matters, politicians should also show the strength to debate the issues with the other sides.



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