CJ Khosa’s swan song – The  Army Chief Extension “Suo Moto”

CJ Khosa’s swan song – The  Army Chief Extension “Suo Moto” (published on 26 Nov 19) By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

In my view and in the larger scheme of things and in the long term, the SC temporary suspension, highly contentious and suspicious, of the COAS extension notification, is a good thing, whatever their motivations. This order will certainly give rise to highly polarized views, great confusion and insecurity and conspiracy theories of attempts to oust PM Imran and weaken the Army and a treacherous stab in our efforts to come out of our current mess.

Many are aware of my perspective and very strong support for the military in its efforts to help rebuild civilian institutions and my considered view that it will take time for their footprint to be reduced and that it will not happen, overnight. But I have also maintained that PAKISTAN can only develop if its civilian institutions begin to assert themselves and in so doing send signals that the influence of the Army and its senior leadership beyond their mandated role, has boundaries.

I do not believe the CJ is trying to upend Imran or bring down the government or has been “bought” by Nawaz etc.  But the timing of this “suo moto” is very awkward and looks extremely suspicious, especially given that he’s rarely taken a suo moto. He denies that it’s a suo moto.  But it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck.  It’s clearly a duck or a suo moto!

And if ever there was an opportunity for a suo moto, then it was to stop Nawaz from traipsing off to good old London land, after the Punjab High Court allowed him to do so or in the least maintaining the Rs. 7 billion bond

While CJ Khosa is not anyone’s hand maiden, nor is he up for sale and is an extremely tough guy, my only question is “why now” and “why this issue? This has certainly cast a huge shadow around him! His recent public spat with the PM, does of course put a huge and serious question mark on the “objectiveness” of this order, coming at this time.

Having said that, I was always against the extension, and in my most recent commentary had requested the Chief to ride away in the sunset with dignity and grace and at the peak of his success. Were that to happen and a new Army Chief appointed, it would be good for PM Imran to focus even more on rebuilding civilian institutions and not have to rely, as is the perception, on one particular individual to plug in where needed, and lull him into a sense of complacency.

If there’s a new Army Chief, even he will and should extend full support of the institution to him and his government, wherever needed and required. And required it is!

Therefore, in my opinion,  this suspicious short order suspending the extension may actually turn into a good omen for Pakistan, long term!  Many will disagree and see this as a dark conspiracy against PM Imran and weakening the Army and an extension of 5th generation warfare against the State.  I don’t. I actually see this strengthening him and the civilian executive

And even if the suspension is withdrawn, a warning shot has been fired across the bows indicating no individual is omnipotent and that due process cannot be flouted. And if I were Gen. Bajwa, given this temporary suspension and even before its withdrawal, were that to happen, I would decline the extension and, like I said earlier, ride away into the sunset, with grace and dignity and the satisfaction of having done an outstanding job.

But the question of “Why now” and “Why this” will forever haunt CJ Khosa’s legacy and his motives, given that he’s picked at a “procedural lapse” at a time when the petitioner wanted to withdraw it, and unilaterally converting it into a suo moto! Had he taken it up, as a suo moto, say, on 22 August, 2019, no one would have questioned his motives!

Another mystery in our never ending conspiracy theories.