`Pakistan politically paralysed`

Pakistan is witnessing a tense stand-off between the political leadership and the powerful military.

Islamabad: The government must provide a road map to get democracy back on track in Pakistan which is "near paralysed politically", said a leading daily, adding that "what the country has seen amounts to one step forward, two back and then two steps forward, one back".

Pakistan has witnessed a tense stand-off between the political leadership and the powerful military that saw Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last Wednesday sacking defence secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired lieutenant general widely seen to be close to Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

An editorial in the Dawn on Monday said: "Every week is seemingly `make or break` week in Pakistan. But last week and the one ahead could be crucial for the democratic process."

"Looking back, the last week ended on a relatively peaceable note with the civilian and military leadership gathering in the same room in front of the cameras for a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister expressing his support for the armed forces while calling on all institutions to respect the domains of one another," it said.

The editorial said that it will take many more confidence-building measures for the mistrust to be removed, "if it in fact can be eliminated at such an advanced stage into the relationship between the present civilian and Army leadership".

Referring to the secret memo to Washington that said President Asif Ali Zardari had feared a military take over after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was gunned down on May 02 last year, the editorial said it "hangs heavy over the skewed relationship between the political government and the Army".

It went on to say that a re-escalation in tensions between the government and the judiciary is not inevitable.

"So far, what the country has seen amounts to one step forward, two back and then two steps forward, one back.

"The net result: the country is near paralysed politically. Having seemingly moved little in any direction, be it forwards towards a permanent resolution of the crisis or backwards towards a tragic mistake by one or more sides, perhaps now is the time for the government to step up and provide an authoritative road map to get democracy back on track."

IANS

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