Islamabad: Senior military officials have been asked by Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to keep away from political activities

"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’.

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.

(Agencies)