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Pakistan’s Supreme Court Tells Military: “Stay out of Politics”

Reuters reports:

In a rare challenge to Pakistan’s powerful generals, the country’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the military should stop interfering in politics.

. . . Chief Supreme Court Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry said military intelligence agencies must stay away from politics.

“Such organizations have no role to play in the political activities/politics, for formulation or destabilization of political governments,” he said in the ruling.

“Nor can they facilitate or show favor to a political party or group of political parties or politicians individually in any manner which may lead to his or her success.” […]

“Any Election Cell/Political Cell in Presidency or ISI or MI (Military Intelligence) or within their formations shall be abolished immediately,” said the Supreme Court ruling.

In unusually strong language, it went on to say: “Their acts have brought a bad name to Pakistan and its armed forces as well as secret agencies.”

In recent years Pakistan’s Supreme Court, and its popular chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, has emerged as a strong challenger to the military and civilian political elite’s hold on power. The Court has brought a high-profile case against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who resigned. In 2005, then President Pervez Musharraf tried to remove Chaudhry from office but was forced to reinstate him following widespread street protests.

Despite the Court’s recent climb to power, this latest ruling is probably an exercise in futility. The military isn’t going to step out of politics just because the Court tells it to do so. It’s going to take more than a verbal attack from a known enemy, even a powerful one like Chaudhry, to get the Pakistani military out of politics.

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