Article 245, Power of Political System and Need of “New Social Contract”

By Shazia Anwer Cheema


“Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.”

Vladimir Lenin

Pakistan Army is called again to help the Civilian government for handling the situation threatening the country due to widespread Coivd-19.

It is not the first time and of course not the last. Since 1977, Article 245 of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan had been under use to call Army to help the civilian administrative system. Having a history of over 40 years of this Civilian-Military arrangement indicates that the civilian system has not come up effective and mature enough to execute duties whenever there is some natural or political calamity. The issue of calling the Army to help the Civil administrative system under Article 245 had been many times in higher courts for admissibility and different decisions came to the surface according to provisions of particular times.

Though the operating para of Article 245 is clear that it will be used by the Civil administration to 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. However, this Article is being used to help civil administrations during times of natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, and now pandemic.

Hereunder is Article 245 for ready reference to understand where and when it should be used and its implication and related subjects:

 (1) 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.

(2) The validity of any direction issued by the Federal Government under clause (1) shall not be called in question in any court.

(3) A High Court shall not exercise any jurisdiction under Article 199 in relation to any area in which the Armed Forces of Pakistan are, for the time being, acting in aid of civil power in pursuance of Article 245:

Provided that this clause shall not be deemed to affect the jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of any proceeding pending immediately before the day on which the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power.

(4) Any proceeding in relation to an area referred to in clause (3) instituted on or after the day the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power and pending in any High Court shall remain suspended for the period during which the Armed Forces are so acting.

There has been a claim and blame that Democracy has not been flourished in Pakistan so a halfhearted democratic system gets panic in every unusual situation. Here we forget an important point that a civilian government is run by an administrative system through its tools like bureaucracy and judiciary. The question could be why there is a trust deficit between administrative machinery and so-called civilian government or political individuals?

For finding such answers, we need to review the System, we are following, and we are depending upon. Does the Parliamentary system (the basis of our democracy) good enough to run a country without the intermittent support of uniform?

Pakistan is a democratic country, governed by the people and for the people. Our political parties every now and then set a stage for winning and losing power. Of course one wins and the other loses. They don’t have faces, individual identities, manifestos, and reform ideas. They are faceless souls belonging to one party flag or another. I always find this debate relevant, that we cannot analyze our Culture, literature, and Art with the eyes of western philosophers, we must find our own parameters to analyze our own folktale, oral history, and historical mysteries. This can also apply to the ruling and governing system; the western democratic system cannot be replicated here. We are a society of castes and creeds, in which few are already superior to others. The concept of equality is blurred if will be seen with western ideology. Landowners and land workers are the two true realities. This social system was designed mainly by British Empire to rule. British divided castes, mostly profession-based titles into two groups, one who can own land and the other who cannot own land. So, those who didn’t have any land tend to suppress and the landowners supersede.

In this society of overly divided wealth and resources, the west imposed upon us democracy without even acknowledging the fact that the idea of anyone or everyone can serve the country by the ruling is a farce here. For being democratic in Pakistan, one has to be immune to all the mimes happening in the political arena, where politicians run the democracy as a business. You spend money you will get back with profit, so the very idea of me and you becoming a politician is just an idea like many others ideas. On the ground, a middle and upper-middle-class person cannot imagine in his wildest dream to stand in front of Political business tycoons.

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

H.L. Mencken

Let’s come back to the point a government by the people for the people, in Pakistan democracy is government by few families on the entire population. When the west introduced democracy, they didn’t mention kinship in democratic government, we have this form of democracy, where power transfers to next of kin but of course democratically.

The question could be, are we dumb or stupid enough not to understand the circus around us?  The answer is no, we are as sane as a normal mind could be but we are clutched between reality and face keeping. For being moderate, modern, and nonconformist we have to admit that democracy is the best solution and of course, it is but when we see its physical manifestation in our day-to-day life we pretend to be dumb. You can call it a survival mechanism.

The majority of our politicians is illiterate, thugs, convicts, businessmen, retard, or drug addicts. By definition, they could not be efficient, so how our government is functional? When I try to find an answer, I come up with a perception that our two major state pillars, judiciary, and bureaucracy are long on the auto mode. They are running this country on a default mode and they doing good.

So why not admit the failure of democracy due to our social and cultural dimensions, why fear the modern world so much, that creates a need to have a political theatre always-on display, why not admit the reality that from foreign policy to internal management, from disaster control to terrorist neutralization we only have one effective institution.

Few of you can argue, and I am aware that you have this argument, that the reason our politically elected leadership is not capable because someone is not letting them or giving them enough space to become them able. I always find this argument out of place and biased. If the political system is firm and fair, no one can challenge its writ, but time has tested again and again that whenever we need real professional, equipped resourceful help, we call upon the same very uniform. It is not their fault that they are Men at their Best.

In my opinion, we need to review our system and the need for a New Social Contract because we must admit that our current format of Democracy is producing handicapped civil governments, corruption, unemployment, and poverty.

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi


Note: The writer Shazia Cheema is an analyst writing for national and international media outlets including the Nation, Pakistan Today, Pakistan Observer, Eurasia Diary, InSight, and Mina News Agency. She heads the DND Thought Center. She did her MA in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is currently registered as a Ph.D. Scholar of Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh  Email: shaziaanwer@yahoo.com

Central Desk
Central Desk
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