Stay away from politics: Pakistan Chief Justice to military

Pak Chief Justice said military interventions in politics have weakened democratic institutions.

Updated: Apr 17, 2011, 13:26 PM IST

Islamabad: Keep away from political activities, Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has told senior military officials.

Chaudhry said Saturday that the armed forces oath called for true allegiance to the country by upholding the Constitution and by keeping away from political activities, reported Dawn.

"I am persuaded to say this (because) during my talks with one or two very high-ranking officers, I discovered that they did not know the implications of the oath taken by the troops of Pakistan," Chaudhry said in his address to a delegation of senior officials from the Command and Staff College, Quetta.

The armed forces` prime duty was to defend the country against any external aggression, he said, adding: "The prime duty of defending the supremacy of the Constitution lies upon the Supreme Court".

He quoted Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen`s saying that "a country does not have to be fit for democracy; rather it has to become fit through democracy".

He said military interventions in the political process have weakened democratic institutions and had an adverse impact on the constitutional and legal development in the country, the media report said.

The chief justice stressed that the 1973 Constitution had a new chapter for the armed forces and an oath by every soldier to "bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and uphold the Constitution and that he should not engage himself in any political activities whatsoever".

"Let me tell you that the role of armed forces has been clearly defined in Article 245 of the Constitution, which envisages that the armed forces shall, under the directions of the federal government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so," he was quoted as saying.

He recalled the "recurring conflict between the under-developed political system and well-organised army" in the country`s history.

"Thus, there emerged a vicious circle of brief political dispensation followed by prolonged military rule - a state of affairs that brought many setbacks and hampered the process of evolution of constitutionalism and democratic system of governance," he added.