The following mention appeared in The Express Tribune on March 13, 2023, at the following link
Some politicians have lately been assailing former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and former spymaster Faiz Hameed but experts believe that they are merely acting as “cheerleaders” because any concrete action was linked with the military’s nod.
Keeping the civilian side’s limitations in view, political experts say, perhaps, that is the reason why Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has neither formally asked the defence minister to proceed against them nor barred his party officials from speaking against the former military men.
If the past experience is of any guidance, they say, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won’t really venture into that alley, rather it will prefer to keep things limited to the extent that suits its political narrative.
“They burnt their fingers when they tried [former military ruler] Parvez Musharraf,” renowned political expert Zaigham Khan said. It stoked tension with the establishment that resulted in serious problems for PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, he added.
Recently, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan in his various speeches demanded “court martial” of former army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The PML-N had long been assailing Lt-Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed since the days he was the director general of the country’s premier agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Recently, PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz called for his court martial.
The military is part of the executive, headed by the prime minister, Zaigham Khan said. “If they [the ruling coalition] are serious, the prime minister could instruct the defence minister in this regard,” he added.
Instead, Zaigham Khan believed, the ruling coalition would use this talk as a political narrative, mainly to malign Imran Khan and keep demanding of the military to initiate the court martial.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif did not reply, when asked whether the civilian side would move against these former military officers or merely act as cheerleaders; and if the prime minister had issued any directions to proceed against Bajwa and Hameed or directed him to initiate action against them.
Similarly, Information Minister Marriyam Aurangzeb also did not reply to these questions. Various other key leaders deflected the questions to Asif and Auranzeb or chose not to say anything on the matter.
“Action will only be taken when the army itself wants to take action against the former high-ups,” said Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) president.
“If the army doesn’t want any action, nothing will happen,” Mehboob said, adding: “The civilian side can only give statements and their role is more of a cheerleader. The real action can only be taken by the army, that too if it wishes to do so.”
Currently, the Pildat president said, the civilian side was speaking against Bajwa and Hameed just because they have got a green signal from the establishment to that extent.
To a question if civilian side was showing aggression because they might have obtained something against Bajwa and Hameed, Mehboob replied that nothing will change even if they had something against them. He repeated: “Action is linked with army’s nod.”
When asked if some concrete action could be taken against the former military officials before the next general election, Mehboob said that it was possible, as army didn’t take much time to decide a matter and it is known for maintaining internal discipline.
In a meeting in February with information minister and several other PML-N leaders, Maryam Nawaz had alleged that Hameed had abused his position by rigging the elections for Imran Khan.
The PML-N chief organiser also alleged that Hameed also tried to break the PML-N, by targeting its candidates and forcing them to return the party’s tickets or had them disqualified.
Maryam had claimed that Hameed had not only violated his oath by interfering in politics, but also committed corruption. Without elaborating much, Maryam had said that one day the reality would surface no matter how hard one tried to hide it.
In March, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that a probe was under way against the former ISI chief and his brother over alleged corruption and accumulating assets beyond means. However, he said, it would be premature to say anything further at this stage.
Other parties, including the PTI leadership, have also been vocal against former military officials but, experts believe, most of the things were limited to only statements, just like Maryam and Sanaullah’s statements.