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EDITORIAL: That political strife in the country has woefully deepened in recent weeks and months is a fact. Consider: politicians are getting vicious by the day, employing an entirely new abusive lingo.

Earlier, the opponents were blamed for their failures to serve the people and not being able to give justice and security to the needed. But now it is a game of name-calling, character assassination and sellout of national interest. Not that in a functional democratic ambience such criticism is undesirable, but the way it is being polluted by leaderships on both sides of the political divide now was never the case before.

And this vicious tendency is no more confined to the political scenario: the higher judiciary and senior military leadership, too, are being sucked into political bickering and name-calling. While an embittered Imran Khan hits out at, albeit obliquely, the army and judiciary, the ruling party’s Maryam Nawaz severely criticises former ISI chief Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed, a three-star general, although the latter is currently serving as the Commander of the XI Corps.

And in between all this the PTI-appointed Punjab governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema has sought army’s intervention to help him hold on to his office. All of it is unacceptable to both higher judiciary and army leadership.

So there is the stern warning by the ISPR against dragging the army as an institution and its leadership into the political quagmire. Through a press release, the ISPR, army’s media wing, has taken strong exception to “intensified and deliberate attempt” by some political leaders, journalists and analysts,” which, it said, are extremely damaging. Meanwhile, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has vowed action against Imran Khan for ‘vilifying’ institutions.

Armies fight battles with weapons, but the most potent weapon they use is the support, esteem and affection of their people. An army, howsoever sacrificing may be its men, would find fighting difficult without unstinted support of their countrymen.

So the psychological warfare is part of the game — the enemy tries hard to undermine its opponent’s battle potential by subverting the moral and political support it enjoys. We wouldn’t go as far as to claim that some of our political setups are playing into the enemy’s hands, but we do apprehend that the ongoing political discourse, with military being accused of patronizing one or the other party and being asked to intervene in the political process, tends to compromise the elements constituting national security.

Nothing would please our enemies more than the prospect of that Pakistan military leadership being berated within the country. And as we express apprehension about national institutions being dragged into vicious political narratives we would also like to know after all what turns these narratives into such a hard-fought gladiatorial tournament.

While it is heartening to note that the prime minister has asked Maryam Nawaz to revisit her anti-Gen Faiz narrative without any further loss of time, Imran Khan must not lose sight of the fact that he lost power because he failed to survive vote of no-confidence against him. He is expected to show to the world that he’s essentially a great sportsman who can take defeat with magnanimity or victory without gloating. Last but not least, he must stop likening country’s institutions to Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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