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Pak Senate chief warns against another military takeover

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Senate chief has warned that constitutional checks to prevent yet another military takeover have become redundant in the country which has seen army rule for nearly half of its 68 years of independence.

Raza Rabbani was winding up the debate in the upper house to commemorate the International Day of Democracy on Tuesday.

Opposition leaders had raised fears of increasing disconnect between the powerful military and the government.

In the past, the army had toppled the civilian government four times to directly rule the country and the military interventions continued despite Article 6 of the 1973 constitution which criminalises the abrogation of the constitution by declaring it as “high treason”, which is punishable with death.

“I believe that Article 6 has become redundant. Our weaknesses have made it redundant. In my eyes, no constitutional clause can protect democracy,” Rabbani said.

He said that only people of the country can stop the army from seizing power.

“Only the people can protect democracy provided they are given ownership of the system,” he observed adding that Pakistan could not afford another military intervention.

“No system other than democracy can keep the federation intact keeping in view the country’s internal and external situation,” he said.

The last military ruler Pervez Musharraf took over in 1999 but was forced to resign in 2008.

A case of high treason was filed against him in 2013 but due to pressure from the army, it has been effectively abandoned though the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has refused to allow Musharraf to go abroad.

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