Shocked at the highhandedness of the Pakistan Army, all senior police officials of the Sindh province have gone for a mass leave

If a top police official is abducted in a country, will it not generate a question mark on the law and order situation of that country? Will it not indicate that the rule of law in that country is in absolute peril? And this is what Pakistan has started showing to the world.

Pakistan’s Sindh Province Inspector General, Mushtaq Mahar was “abducted” by Rangers at the midnight of October 19 from his official residence in Karachi and taken to Army Commanders’ office in the city where he was forced to issue arrest order against PML-N leader and husband of Maryam Nawaz, Captain (Retd) Muhammad Safdar.

Rattled by the demoralizing incident of abduction of their boss, all senior police officials of the Sindh province have gone for a mass leave. These senior police officials, as per Pakistani news outlet Dawn, included two additional inspectors general, seven deputy inspectors general and six senior superintendents.

This was the first time discontent among police against high handedness of the Pakistan Army has come out open. At the time when the country’s incumbent political and military establishments are at the receiving end of opposition parties, the incident of abduction of top police official in Sindh has brought to the fore critical situation Pakistan is in today.

The Sindh government has also backed the protesting police officials, adding more thrust to growing anti-Army disenchantment among Pakistani people. “Sindh police has given huge sacrifices to establish peace in the province…I am well aware of their services, sacrifices and professional skills,” Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was quoted as saying during a meeting with police officials

In view of the unprecedented situation, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered a probe into the incident. But this has left many people baffled as they see in the Pakistan Army’s order a message that the Army’s chain of command has broken down. While it is not viewed as a good sign, Pakistan’s civil society members, advocates and others have started voicing their concern at the teetering law and order situation in the country.

“The leave applications tendered by dozens of senior police officers throughout Sindh citing demoralization of the forces due to this brazen interference in policing functions are a sign of complete breakdown of the rule of law and an undeclared martial law,” the Sindh Bar Council said in a resolution passed on Wednesday.

The Sindh Bar Council also lambasted the country’s judiciary for being silent on the Pakistan Army’s abhorrent extra-constitutional activities for years. “Unfortunately, the judiciary of Pakistan has remained a silent spectator in the face of this creeping martial law and, indeed, is widely being seen as a facilitator of elements who wish to carry out an extra-constitutional role,” the Bar Council said.

“Unless this trend of military interference in civil and judicial administration is immediately reversed, it will permanently damage the public reputation and trust not only in the government and the judiciary of Pakistan but also the beloved Armed Forces of Pakistan,” the Bar Council added.

Experts see emergence of such hard hitting statements against the Army as a corollary of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s filibuster against the armed forces. In his October 16 and 18 speeches, Nawaz Sharif hit out the Army and the judiciary for ousting him. He said the Pakistan Army has become “a state above a state.”

While continued rant against Pakistan’s most powerful institution has revealed people’s growing hatred against the country’s own army, abduction of the top police official and then forcing him to do what their abductors want, has made it clear that the South Asian country is staring at a major crisis.