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Dawn

Published Date: Apr 29, 2014

Experts discuss role of politicians, military, media in state affairs

The politicians need to improve their capacity in the security
sector, in order to increase their weight in the delicate civil-military
balance in the country, the experts at a seminar highlighted on Monday.

"The
people of Pakistan have chosen democracy as the best possible solution
to the country’s problems, and people will continue to support the
democratic system if it delivers well," said Member of National Assembly
(MNA) Asad Umar of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf.

He was speaking at a
seminar on ‘Civil-Military Relations and the Role of Media in Pakistan’,
organised by the Sustainable Development Police Institute (SDPI).

"Democracy
is absolutely essential for a peaceful, prosperous and united Pakistan.
There is a need to further strengthen democracy in the country," the
MNA said, adding that it is not just the politicians and the army, but
also judiciary and media that are now vying for a greater space in the
power structure of Pakistan.

"Despite all such debates, there is
no doubt that Pakistan needs a strong military and intelligence, just as
there is a need for an independent media to analyse and bring to light
the issues of public interest," he added.

However, he called for
strong institutional mechanisms for monitoring, maintaining transparency
and ensuring accountability of various institutions.

Criticising
media too, he added that there was no effective system base on
self-regulation. "If one is committed to living up to the highest
standards of ethics, then one should not have any problems in opening up
for scrutiny," he said.

The speakers avoided indulging the current rift between a media group and a state institution.

Meanwhile,
the history of civic-military relations was highlighted by Ejaz Haider,
a senior analyst and expert on national security affairs.

"Military
interventions occur these days not because military personnel are
unprofessional, but because they are highly professional and have their
own ideas of the polity and of their place in the polity," he added, "The military interferes in the system mostly because they consider it
best in the national interest."

He observed that historically
there have been two categories in civil-military relations; one in which
militaries have conducted coups and have placed themselves in the ‘driving seat’, while the other includes militaries which have instead
just found ways to influence the policies for their own interest.

"It
seems that Pakistani military has now decided to stay away from getting
into the driving seat and taking control," he added, "However, this
does not mean that the conditions which may lead to such a situation
have been eradicated altogether, they have a strong indirect presence
too."

It was also highlighted that the recent situation has shown that the military has found other ways to exert its influence.