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Editorial — Manufacturing consensus

The complexity of doing politics in the context of civil-military tensions

Editorial — Manufacturing consensus

Pakistan’s terrorism problem is complex. Terrorism generally is. The December 16 tragedy convinced all stakeholders that it was time for the state to tackle with this terrorism with full might. ‘Might’ is, therefore, how the state has decided to address this complex problem. In the immediate aftermath, the prime minister withdrew the moratorium on death penalty and started hanging those on death row.

A more ‘considered’ National Action Plan hinged on the setting up of military courts. But that was easier said than done. It required an amendment in the Army Act which, in turn, required a constitutional amendment. And that required a political consensus which, as it happened, was easier done than said.

Most political parties that swore by democratic norms and civilian supremacy crossed over to the other side, without even debating the issue in any major way. On the other hand, ironically, the religious political parties which had a close and sustained relationship with the military establishment abstained from the parliament when the time came for voting in favour of the constitutional amendment.

In today’s Special Report, we have tried to analyse the various parties’ position and their reasons for forging the consensus or opposing it. The complexity of doing politics in the context of civil-military tensions makes interesting analyses.

Interestingly, the only opposition to the military courts and against this manufactured consensus has come from the intellectual class and the human rights groups. Interestingly, in their hearts of hearts, none of the political stakeholders is convinced the military courts will solve the terrorism problem in a conclusive way. All these complexities of a unified response without a thought about the consequences are addressed in the Special Report articles.

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