India needs to learn, Pakistan’s SC warned military not to interfere in politics

ISLAMABAD, July 28, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani people stand outside the Supreme Court waiting for its verdict over corruption charges against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, July 28, 2017. Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over corruption charges. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal/IANS)
File Photo

Feb 6. Pakistan’s Supreme Court today warned the powerful military
and intelligence agencies against interfering in political matters and
curtailing media freedom in the country.

The unusual
criticism of the armed forces was part of a court verdict about a protest
carried out by a hardline Islamist party which had blocked the main entrance to
Islamabad in 2017 over a proposed change in the oath taken by public servants,
which the Islamists considered blasphemous.

Constitution emphatically prohibits members of the armed forces from engaging
in any kind of political activity, which includes supporting a political party,
faction or individual,” the apex court said.

two-member bench also ordered the government and the Chief of Army Staff Qamar
Javed Bajwa to take action against personnel who do not follow this directive,
Efe news reported.

The November
2017 protests by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party, which was in news
recently for protesting against the acquittal of Christian woman Asia Bibi from
blasphemy charges, ended after an agreement between the Islamist party and the

After the
protest, military personnel handed out money to the participants to help them
return to their houses, an act which was captured on camera and went viral on
social networks of the country.

The Supreme
Court said there was a perception that the Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI), the premier spy agency of the country, was involved in politics and
urged it to stay within its constitutional mandate.

intelligence agencies (…) must not exceed their respective mandates. They
cannot curtail the freedom of speech and expression,” the verdict stated.

However, the
court did not mention specific examples of interference in media or cases of
armed forces personnel being involved in politics during the protest.

Pakistani military establishment has ruled the country for half of its history
since its independence. Even during democratic periods, it controls the
security and foreign policy decisions of the government, according to many

the criticism of the armed forces and intelligence agencies is rare and can
have serious consequences.

Last year, Islamabad
High Court
judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was sacked for accusing the ISI of
manipulating the judicial process about the corruption charges against former
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the general election.

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