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Criticizing state institutions

Ousted prime minister Imran Khan is adamant on marching towards Islamabad and compelling the new government to hold early elections. However, it seems that PTI chairman has resorted to veiled criticism of state institutions with which he has a strained relationship ever since losing power. 

During a recent address in Abbottabad, Imran Khan targeted the military in a subtle manner, saying that “only animals were neutral” in remarks apparently aimed at the military leadership, which did not take any side when he was ousted from power through a no-trust move.

Even the military took strong exception and condemned attempts to involve the armed forces in the political discourse. It warned that statements indirectly discussing the alleged role of the establishment in politics are extremely damaging for the country. The statement may not directly aimed at Imran as even Maryam Nawaz, some journalists and social media have vehemently criticized state institutions.

The new government strongly condemned Imran Khan for maligning state institutions and the National Assembly even passed a resolution against him. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated that spewing venom against the military was itself a conspiracy which needs to be stopped to avert chaos. He has also vowed to take legal action for the anti-state hate speech.

Shehbaz Sharif went on saying that Imran Khan was himself the blue-eyed boy of the institution which he said has never supported any government as much as him. Maryam Nawaz recently said that Imran lasted for over three years in office as he had the support of a former intelligence officer. The PML-N has routinely lambasted state institutions while Nawaz Sharif was campaigning to oust Imran’s government.

Political leaders, parties, journalists and analysts should realize that such statements against state institutions will not gain much. Although everyone has the right to expression and media freedom, these are shallow attempts to get short-lived political gains. Although Imran Khan has denied vilifying the military, he should also realize it will not support his political narrative.

The military has often denied the alleged role of the army in politics. It is the responsibility of political leaders to not make any direct or nuanced jibe against state institutions including the judiciary. It is imperative that institutions remain within their constitutional ambit to help strengthen democracy in the country.

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