Plethora of challenges ahead for new army chief | The Express Tribune


Asim Munir is taking charge as the army chief at a time where the military is facing several challenges on the legal front.

The security establishment is being accused of manipulating judicial proceedings in high-profile cases since the Panamagate judgment in April 2017.

PML-N supremo and former premier Nawaz Sharif accused both the judiciary and establishment for disqualifying him permanently.

Subsequently, he, along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar, were convicted and sent behind bars before the 2018 general elections.

Read more: General Asim Munir appointed new army chief

PML-N leaders also accused both the security establishment and superior judiciary, led by ex-chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, of stealing their party’s mandate in those general polls.

When the PTI came into power, all institutions especially the judiciary, military and executive were on the same page to initiate “accountability” against opposition leaders. Several political leaders were sent behind bars and the superior courts were reluctant to give them relief.

Former CJP Asif Saeed Khosa in his speech had observed that the perception about the “lopsided” accountability should be ended.

When the special court had awarded capital punishment to ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf in treason case, the establishment strongly reacted to this decision.

Later, the Lahore High Court had quashed the special court proceedings.

The matter was challenged in the apex court and it is still pending.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Likewise, media personnel, who were questioning the establishment as well as then prime minister Imran Khan, faced a tough time.

Most of them were compelled to leave their jobs. Several incidents of media personnel’s harassment and manhandling were reported.

Even the top court judges, who had questioned the establishment, were being targeted through different methods.

Former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was removed on account of giving a speech wherein he had alleged the manipulation of judicial proceedings by intelligence agencies in high-profile cases.

When Justice Qazi Faez Isa had questioned the role of military officers in the Faizabad sit-in judgment, a presidential reference was filed for his removal.

However, the security establishment failed to oust him because of the support of the bar as well as one section of the judges.

Similarly, the IHC had also questioned the agencies’ role in cases of enforced disappearances.

Now the PTI leadership is seeking the superior courts’ intervention in matters including the registration of the FIR over the attack on Imran Khan on November 3, breaching the privacy and dignity of Senator Azam Swati, killing of journalist Arshad Sharif and custodial torture on Shahbaz Gill, etc.

It has “greviences” against the security establishment in these matters.

The PTI leadership wants the new army chief to address them.

Senior lawyers believe that the new army chief will confront several challenges.

His biggest challenge will be to deal with the missing persons cases which are rising since the war on terror in 2001.

The judges have expressed their disappointment over the lack of compliance on their orders in the cases of enforced disappearances.

The new army chief will also have a major test to sort out the grievances in matters related to civil liberties and freedom of speech.

It is expected that the security establishment will not take part in any plan to oust a judge on account of their independent approach.

Lawyers are questioning as to whether or not the establishment will create any obstacle in the appointment of Justice Isa as the CJP next year after the new army chief takes command.

Former attorney general Tariq Mahmood Khokhar said during the tenure of outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the country’s democracy, economy, politics and institutions were facing continuous turmoil.

“Solutions are not inevitable. The superior judiciary needs to redress the imbalance. It needs to take up the longstanding issues of civil liberties; media restraints; and the lack of constitutional as well as the extra-constitutional constraints,” he added.

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