December 8, 2019

There will be a lot of huffing and puffing, but there will be no blowing in of the house

In November this year, an extraordinary matter made its way to the news following a petition that stirred a debate regarding the terms and conditions of the reappointment or extension in the service of the chief of army staff (COAS). The three-day long hearing of the case in the Supreme Court garnered unprecedented attention surrounding a matter which had never before been debated upon so publicly.

The complexity of the matter increased further as legislative voids regarding the terms and conditions came to the fore. While the Supreme Court allowed the extension of the COAS’ tenure for six months, it ordered the government to legislate to address the legal lacunae.

While mainstream TV news channels attempted to appear objective in their coverage of the events as these unfolded, and the situation as it developed, it failed to answer questions that for long had not been asked. However, social media commentaries, reporting and coverage of the issue reflected the medium’s ability to allow millions a platform to form their free opinions and make their voices heard.

As the government hints at reaching out to the opposition regarding the legislative aspect of the issue, the opposition largely remains cautious. Experts believe that while there will be a lot of huffing and puffing, there will be no blowing in of the house. While experts predict that the opposition is likely to work towards granting parliamentary approval regarding the legislative aspect of the matter, various opposition elements may work in accordance with selfish interests in securing the most out of the current situation.

Nothing much has changed. Or has it? Will this episode that manifested during the last week of November ever translate into a more meaningful democratic debate is something no political pundit is willing to forecast.

Editorial: Army Chief's extension amid PTI govt's attempt at reconciliation with opposition