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Calling the big guns

Aisha Saeed 08:30 PM | 8 Jul, 2018
Calling the big guns
The July elections hold an unprecedented moment for Pakistan with the uninterrupted transition of civilian government. It is the silver lining for a flourishing democracy in Pakistan despite many odds. Election campaigns are in a full swing across Pakistan ahead of the general elections due to be held next month.

While political parties are engaged in securing their votes, the security apparatus of the country is gearing up for an additional duty to their country. The Election Commission of Pakistan has requested a staggeringly high number of troops from the military alone, in addition to the paramilitary forces and the police force of the country but later denied the claims in regards to the figures made.

The deployment of the troops will be divided across the country but amid reports, the ECP has marked some 20,000 polling stations as sensitive spots, or stations that are probably more prone to political rigging or violence.

The practice to call in the military to provide security during elections became a necessity around 2013 and but since then has become a norm, whereas previously it was on standby calls that was seldom required.  Although the military has assured the needed assistance for security, the exact number of troops to be deployed remains the decision of the military.

Constitutionally, Pakistan’s military is bound to tend to calls made by the government but Pakistan has redeemed its security situation and has come a long way from where the military was bound to be stationed for regular tasks.  Pakistan’s military is not a stranger to outright harshness when it comes to it being involved in the local matters of the government.

Pakistan’s establishment is thought to be the force behind the ouster of the third time former Prime Minister of Pakistan, that disrupted Pakistan’s leading political party the PML-N.  But from Raheel to Bajwa, the chiefs of the military resisted acting hastily amid unstable political jolts that Pakistan faced and choose to remain distant from the inner politics of the country.

Establishment parted ways with politics sometime in the year 2008. Change in attitude was a result of rethinking by General Kayani with his back to the barracks mantra which required the military’s utmost attention to the imminent threats. The doctrine under both the military chiefs remains the same – to ensure long-term stable security situation of the country that assists in a building a solid ground for a better democratic setup.

Current establishment is overstretched in its prime responsibility and additional duties require extensive planning regardless of the duration.  Despite the improved security situation of Pakistan, the federal and provincial governments failed to upgrade local law enforcement agencies with the needed reforms and politicized them for personal gains.

The request made to the military for the assistance during elections is not just a matter of security but the matter of ensuring transparency in the entire process as the military and its personnel stand the neutral ground.  The strain on the military might not be evident as the military might call in former officers from different arms but this auxiliary assignment should be used as a standby option and as the last line of protection.

The focus of the military, however, does shift and the pressure to look after external and internal threats does increase and with the probability of terrorist targeting the election campaigns or the individuals involved in the process remains high.

The government and the ECP need to empower civil departments and make them aware of their responsibilities that otherwise are imposed on the military. The dependency on the military for such tasks needs to be reduced or the misunderstandings over the role of the military will continue to be exploited. It will cast a shadowy image on the competency of the caretaker government and those before it.

But the irony remains, as the ECP claims that the political parties initially requested for the military to provide security while the same political entities blame the military to have engineered the political situation of the country.

The establishment might very well have had the means to do so in the past but the understanding since General Kayani’s time saw no gains in influencing the political flow of Pakistan – perhaps not until it disrupts the national security at large.  Nawaz Sharif made an attempt to remain relevant by playing the victim card at the hands of the military where only a dictatorial takeover could become Nawaz’s saving grace but was disappointed by the military tranquil reaction.

The military’s willingness to assist in the elections in an impartial manner is a sign that the establishment is eager to see a stronger democratic setup so that it can focus on the external threats faced by Pakistan.

The hollow claims about the establishment being a state within a state should be put to rest with the upcoming elections and despite having a presence to manipulate the election results, the military is deemed to maintain its moral grounds and the new doctrine. The government will continue to seek cooperation and consultancy from the military over issues such as the national security which also entail the foreign policy of the country and vice-versa but for regular tasks the other organs of the government need to be empowered. Reliance on the military only causes irritation between institutions of the country.

From population census to elections, the big guns of Pakistan are called in but should not be used as a compensation for the incompetence of successive governments to enable local bodies to provide assistance in tasks that fall primarily under their jurisdictions and the reliance on the military needs to be revised and limited to certain exceptions.

For the time being, the elections will be held under the watchful eyes of the military but the outcome will depend solely on the people and their votes.

Aisha Saeed
Aisha Saeed

Aisha Saeed is an independent Research Analyst on Media and Foreign Policy

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KARACHI - Following are the foreign currency exchange rates for US Dollar, Saudi Riyal, UK Pound Sterling, U.A.E. Dirham, European Euro, and other foreign currencies in Pakistan open market on February 4, 2023 (Saturday).

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 279.9 283.2
Euro EUR 300.98 301.58
UK Pound Sterling GBP 337.01 337.71
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.14 75.44
Saudi Riyal SAR 73.55 73.85
Australian Dollar AUD 189 192
Bahrain Dinar BHD 712.72 720.69
Canadian Dollar CAD 200 202.2
China Yuan CNY 39.67 39.73
Danish Krone DKK 39.33 39.73
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 34.19 34.54
Indian Rupee INR 3.28 3.39
Japanese Yen JPY 2.5 2.54
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 878 887
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 62.83 63.43
New Zealand Dollar NZD 173.25 175.25
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.79 27.09
Omani Riyal OMR 696.08 704.08
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 73.62 74.32
Singapore Dollar SGD 204 206
Swedish Korona SEK 25.61 25.91
Swiss Franc CHF 291.69 294.19
Thai Bhat THB 8.15 8.30

KARACHI – The price of a single tola of 24-karat gold in Pakistan is Rs 205,200 on Saturday. The price of 10 grams of 24k gold was recorded at Rs175,930.

Likewise, 10 grams of 22k gold were being traded for Rs167,318 while a single tola of 22-karat gold was being sold at Rs 195,157.

Note: The gold rate in Pakistan is fluctuating according to the international market so the price is never been fixed. The below rates are provided by local gold markets and Sarafa Markets of different cities.

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Karachi PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Islamabad PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Peshawar PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Quetta PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Sialkot PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Attock PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Gujranwala PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Jehlum PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Multan PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Bahawalpur PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Gujrat PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Nawabshah PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Chakwal PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Hyderabad PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Nowshehra PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Sargodha PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Faisalabad PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430
Mirpur PKR 205,200 PKR 2,430

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