ISLAMABAD: The PPP is strongly opposed to handing over Islamabad to the army under article 245 of the Constitution.
Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar in a statement said that the decision is pregnant with serious consequences for the people and country as it means not only failure of the civil administration but also total suspension of the jurisdiction of the High Courts. Worst still, in practical terms it also means setting up of military courts which cannot be permitted.
The PPP has always opposed invoking Article 245 for calling army in aid of civil power whether it was in Karachi or other parts of the country. The situation in Islamabad is not any worse that in any other part of the country to warrant inviting security establishment to fix it by vesting in them powers beyond judicial oversight, he said.
The government fails to recognize that if today it is Islamabad tomorrow Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore, indeed the whole country, may have to be handed over to the army under Article 245 and practically dispense with the high courts. Bad as it already is the human rights situation in the country will get even worse as the doors of high courts are shut on the citizens.
He said that the decision to hand over federal capital to the army will also send disturbing signals to the world about the prevailing security situation in the country.
The decision reflects the penchant of PML-N government to lean on the security establishment for everything be it meter reading or tracing of ghost schools or appointing monitors and is most unfortunate.
And let us not forget the security apparatus once called in aid of civil power under this Article might want to linger on even after it is no longer needed. No one wants to relinquish power or abdicate a position of authority and influence in which their actions are not called into question in the courts.
Farhatullah Babar said that it will further distort the already distorted civil-military equation. He reminded the PML-N government of the Charter of Democracy. Four articles of the Charter (articles 32 to 36 ) call for concerted actions to address distortions in civil-military relations. The decision to hand over Islamabad to the army will, instead of correcting the existing huge imbalance, further tilt the balance against the civilian, political and judicial structures of the country, he said.
The government will do well to take a leaf from the past before venturing into this adventurism, he said.