Pakistan — Civil Military Relations in Pakistan

The three A’s that dom­i­nate the des­tiny of Pak­istan are the Army, Allah and Amer­i­ca — not nec­es­sar­i­ly in that order. Today the pow­er play in Pak­istan is between the declin­ing Super Pow­er of the USA and the ris­ing pow­er of Chi­na. In look­ing too close­ly at the tac­ti­cal lev­el details of who said what with­in the Supreme Court of Pak­istan and out­side its walls, we are los­ing our focus on the larg­er geo-strate­gic sce­nario. This will be shaped by the new cold war in Asia between the USA and Chi­na. That may well shape the out­come in Pak­istan. The log­i­cal ques­tion that fol­lows is where is India in this equa­tion?

This arti­cle is pub­lished with the kind per­mis­sion of “Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA) Mag­a­zine” New Del­hi-India

Defence and Security Alert (DSA

 -
Click to enlarge

Even as we eval­u­ate the state of Civ­il-Mil­i­tary and Inter Ser­vices syn­er­gies in India, recent events have made it imper­a­tive that we take a close look at Civ­il-Mil­i­tary Rela­tions in Pak­istan. It is cru­cial for us to eval­u­ate where these are head­ed and cal­i­brate our respons­es accord­ing­ly.

Pak­istan has been sin­gu­lar­ly unfor­tu­nate that it lost its tow­er­ing polit­i­cal leader Mohd Ali Jin­nah so soon after Inde­pen­dence. It was ill served by its squab­bling bunch of politi­cians that fol­lowed, as also by the vault­ing ambi­tions of its mil­i­tary men and bureau­crats. This result­ed in over 30 years of direct mil­i­tary rule in Pak­istan. Over mil­i­tarised states tend to over­reach and over­spend on weapons. This impe­r­i­al over­stretch caus­es the state to col­lapse. Pak­istan has been close to eco­nom­ic col­lapse twice in the last 10 years. It has been kept afloat by some US$ 30 bil­lion worth of doles by the USA and its allies.

Mushar­raf left only after the Amer­i­cans had script­ed an alter­na­tive arrange­ment where­in the NRO was used to strike a bar­gain with Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. She was a charis­mat­ic and pop­u­lar leader. The Mil­i­tary-ISI com­plex saw that and killed her bru­tal­ly. Her hus­band Zardari sim­ply lacked cred­i­bil­i­ty and had a severe image prob­lem. His Prime Min­is­ter Gilani strove to work out a com­pro­mise by kow­tow­ing to the Army and mak­ing him­self accept­able to the Chief and the Chi­nese

The Pak­istani Army now has a piv­otal posi­tion in Pak­istani pol­i­tics. In a very per­cep­tive piece — Hasan Askari Rizvi writes that while the Army does not rule direct­ly it con­trols key aspects of state like nation­al secu­ri­ty, for­eign pol­i­cy and key domes­tic issues. Direct rule is sim­ply replaced by a covert behind the scene Role that usu­al­ly reduces the civil­ian gov­ern­ments to a demo­c­ra­t­ic facade. The civil­ian gov­ern­ments have an acute iden­ti­ty cri­sis. They wish to appear autonomous and yet bank heav­i­ly on the sup­port of the Army Chief to sur­vive. None of them have been able to com­plete their terms. Gen Musharraf’s decade long rule had floun­dered bad­ly once he caved in to Chi­nese pres­sure and attacked the Lal Masjid. It was his Blue Star. The ISI itself pos­si­bly had a covert hand in stok­ing this dis­pute with the Supreme Court that led to his exit and exile. Mushar­raf left only after the Amer­i­cans had script­ed an alter­na­tive arrange­ment where­in the NRO was used to strike a bar­gain with Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. She was a charis­mat­ic and pop­u­lar leader. The Mil­i­tary-ISI com­plex saw that and killed her bru­tal­ly. Her hus­band Zardari sim­ply lacked cred­i­bil­i­ty and had a severe image prob­lem. His Prime Min­is­ter Gilani strove to work out a com­pro­mise by kow­tow­ing to the Army and mak­ing him­self accept­able to the Chief and the Chi­nese.

The entire edi­fice of Civ­il-Mil­i­tary rela­tions in Pak­istan how­ev­er unrav­elled abrupt­ly with the US Seals raid in Abbot­tabad that killed Osama bin Laden. This raid cre­at­ed a severe cri­sis that high­light­ed the lim­its of Pak­istan Army’s high­ly duplic­i­tous pol­i­cy of run­ning with the hares and hunt­ing with the hounds. In 2001 Gen Per­vez Mushar­raf had been coerced into join­ing the Glob­al War on Ter­ror on pain of being bombed back to the Stone Age. How­ev­er by 2005, the Amer­i­can atten­tion had shift­ed entire­ly to Iraq and Per­vez and the ISI used this peri­od to revive the Tal­iban and do all in their pow­er to ensure that Mul­lah Omar and Haqqani would rule in Kab­ul once the Amer­i­cans left. This strate­gic over­reach has back­fired. The imper­a­tives of a state spon­sored Jihad have so thor­ough­ly rad­i­calised the Pak mil­i­tary and soci­ety that the facade of being US allies in the War on Ter­ror is no longer even remote­ly cred­i­ble. There is a seething caul­dron of Islamist rage against Amer­i­ca in the Pak Army and pop­u­lace in gen­er­al. Gen Kayani who was con­stant­ly being lionised by the Amer­i­cans as their man in Islam­abad realised that his posi­tion was becom­ing dan­ger­ous­ly unten­able. There was seething rage in the mil­i­tary can­ton­ments and he ner­vous­ly went about pla­cat­ing his com­mand. Gen Kayani is rel­a­tive­ly junior and his dis­tance from his Corps Com­man­ders is far less than that of Ayub and Mushar­raf. As such he is far more sus­cep­ti­ble to the peer group pres­sure. The Col­legium of Corps Com­man­ders has thus emerged as a key insti­tu­tion in Pak­istan and by exten­sion shapes the nation­al poli­cies. Post Abbot­tabad the image of the Pak Army has reached a new low after the 1971 War. This post Laden image of inep­ti­tude was made worse by the Mehran raid which clear­ly indi­cat­ed the lev­el of Jiha­di pen­e­tra­tion in the armed forces. The Pak mil­i­tary now tried to align itself in tune with the pop­u­lar anti-Amer­i­can mood in its rank and file. They came out in the open with increas­ing­ly hos­tile stances towards Amer­i­ca that bor­dered on brinkman­ship. They sensed the rel­a­tive weak­ness of Amer­i­ca and banked rather heav­i­ly on the rise of Chi­na. The key bat­tle in Pak­istan is now a new cold war between an Amer­i­ca in decline and a Chi­na, which the Pak­istan Army is des­per­ate­ly hop­ing, is in the ascen­dant. The ner­vous civil­ian lead­er­ship mean­while was now ter­ri­fied of a mil­i­tary coup and approached the US to save it. In a strange series of devel­op­ments and leaks there­after, this led to “mem­ogate”.

In any nor­mal state, it is the mil­i­tary that would have been on the back foot. Not in Pak­istan. The civil­ian regime seemed guilt rid­den and red faced that it was try­ing to save itself from a mil­i­tary coup! Pakistan’s Mil­i­tary-ISI com­plex now decid­ed on a soft coup to get rid of the Zardari-Gilani duo. The twin pin­cers of this blood­less coup were to be the high­ly ego­is­tic Chief Jus­tice of the Pak­istani Supreme Court and a move to get Par­lia­ment to call for ear­ly elec­tions. The ISI was now busy build­ing-up its newest demo­c­ra­t­ic poster boy in Imran Khan. He would be the new demo­c­ra­t­ic facade far more in tune with their Jiha­di agen­da. Besides, Imran is also a Pathan and to that extent can help the Pun­jabi-Pash­tun biradari of the Army to keep its flock togeth­er. A Net Assess­ment would indi­cate four Alter­na­tive futures for Pak­istan:

Gen Kayani who was con­stant­ly being lionised by the Amer­i­cans as their man in Islam­abad realised that his posi­tion was becom­ing dan­ger­ous­ly unten­able. There was seething rage in the Mil­i­tary can­ton­ments and he ner­vous­ly went about pla­cat­ing his com­mand. Gen Kayani is rel­a­tive­ly junior and his dis­tance from his Corps Com­man­ders is far less than that of Ayub and Mushar­raf. As such he is far more sus­cep­ti­ble to the peer group pres­sure. The Col­legium of Corps Com­man­ders has thus emerged as a key insti­tu­tion in Pak­istan and by exten­sion shapes the nation­al poli­cies

  • A hard mil­i­tary coup: This is unlike­ly as the Army was fair­ly dis­cred­it­ed dur­ing Musharraf’s long rule. Besides the econ­o­my is in sham­bles and the inter­na­tion­al sit­u­a­tion quite unfavourable for mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion. The mil­i­tary needs a civil­ian buffer to stave off direct for­eign pres­sure.
  • A soft coup: This is what the Pak Army is attempt­ing via the Supreme Court.
  • A street rev­o­lu­tion: If the Supreme Court fails to get this government’s scalp, ISI’s lat­est poster boy Imran Khan could be used to whip up an Arab Spring in Islam­abad.
  • The present gov­ern­ment sur­vives: This is a wild card sce­nario. This is the first civil­ian gov­ern­ment that is fight­ing back. It could sac­ri­fice Gilani and pos­si­bly sur­vive but only for a while. Ear­ly elec­tions are now very like­ly.

Mean­while the exiled Gen­er­al Mushar­raf announced grand­ly that he was com­ing back but then had sec­ond thoughts about the tim­ings. The Eagle could land short­ly on the shores of Pak­istan. Is there an under­ly­ing grand Amer­i­can design? Who is script­ing a new sce­nario? The US was extreme­ly unhap­py with the Pak Army and its brinkman­ship of chok­ing their logis­tics sup­ply line to Afghanistan. Could we be see­ing a new script being enact­ed where­in the Supreme Court would pres­surise an ear­ly exit of the Zardari gov­ern­ment? Ear­ly elec­tions could see the instal­la­tion of Imran Khan — the poster boy of the ISI. Mushar­raf may well be hop­ing to be the new Pres­i­dent in this dis­pen­sa­tion. The Pak­istan Army mean­while is pulling back from its brinkman­ship with Amer­i­ca and has restored logis­ti­cal con­duits to Afghanistan. It has pushed the Amer­i­cans far enough. The Amer­i­cans have in turn split the Pak­istani civ­il-mil­i­tary dis­pen­sa­tion wide apart and made that state dys­func­tion­al. The sit­u­a­tion how­ev­er is high­ly flu­id and touch and go. What is quite cer­tain how­ev­er is that the days of the present dis­pen­sa­tion are most def­i­nite­ly num­bered. The Zardari-Gilani duo knows this and has mus­tered the courage for grand­stand­ing against the Army to gain pop­u­lar sym­pa­thy before the inevitable vote. In the end, the three As that dom­i­nate the des­tiny of Pak­istan are the Army, Allah and Amer­i­ca — not nec­es­sar­i­ly in that order. Today the pow­er play in Pak­istan is between the declin­ing Super Pow­er of the USA and the ris­ing pow­er of Chi­na. In look­ing too close­ly at the tac­ti­cal lev­el details of who said what with­in the Supreme Court of Pak­istan and out­side its walls, we are los­ing our focus on the larg­er geo-strate­gic sce­nario. This will be shaped by the new cold war in Asia between the USA and Chi­na. That may well shape the out­come in Pak­istan. The log­i­cal ques­tion that fol­lows is where is India in this equa­tion?

India’s stance

In ret­ro­spect there­fore India’s most recent ini­tia­tive to push for peace with Pak­istan was sin­gu­lar­ly ill timed. We were told Gilani was a man of peace and the Pak­istani Army was ful­ly on board. It now tran­spires that civ­il-mil­i­tary rela­tions had nev­er been so bad in Pakistan’s entire his­to­ry. How then did we fail to see it? The Pak­istan Army wants a qui­et East­ern Front so that it can focus unhin­dered and undis­turbed upon hang­ing Karzai. That is why per­haps it had giv­en its nod to the peace par­leys. It is com­mon knowl­edge that these peace talks were held under Amer­i­can pres­sure. Bruce Rei­del has gone on record to state that India must be pres­surised to nego­ti­ate with Pak­istan. Our sub­servience to these pres­sures was ful­ly on dis­play in Mal­dives. There is a school of thought that as a democ­ra­cy, we must sup­port the demo­c­ra­t­ic forces in Pak­istan. We may have to be more cir­cum­spect in that case. Our open sup­port to Gilani could be the kiss of death for the PPP in its demo­c­ra­t­ic bat­tles with Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif. Out­ward­ly at least India must be seen as being com­plete­ly hands off in the inter­nal strug­gles in Pak­istan and must be pre­pared to deal with whoso­ev­er comes to pow­er. Covert­ly can we do more to shape the out­come in Pak­istan? In the­o­ry we should. In prac­tice do we have the capa­bil­i­ties? Mr Gujral, in his quest for peace at any cost (most­ly at our cost) we believe had wrecked these capa­bil­i­ties of the R&AW.

About the Author
Maj Gen (Dr) G D Bak­shi SM, VSM (retd) — The writer is a com­bat vet­er­an of many skir­mish­es on the Line of Con­trol and counter-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tions in Jam­mu and Kash­mir and Pun­jab. He sub­se­quent­ly com­mand­ed the reput­ed Romeo Force dur­ing inten­sive counter-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tions in the Rajouri-Poonch dis­tricts. He has served two tenures at the high­ly pres­ti­gious Direc­torate Gen­er­al of Mil­i­tary Oper­a­tions. He is a pro­lif­ic writer on mat­ters mil­i­tary and non-mil­i­tary and has pub­lished 24 books and over 100 papers in many pres­ti­gious research jour­nals. He is also Exec­u­tive Edi­tor of Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA) mag­a­zine.

Note by the Author:
The Pak­istani Army now has a piv­otal posi­tion in Pak­istani pol­i­tics. In a very per­cep­tive piece — Hasan Rizvi writes that while the Army does not rule direct­ly it con­trols key aspects of state like Nation­al Secu­ri­ty, for­eign pol­i­cy and key domes­tic issues. Direct rule is sim­ply replaced by a covert behind the scene Role that usu­al­ly reduces the civil­ian gov­ern­ments to a demo­c­ra­t­ic facade. The civil­ian gov­ern­ments have an acute iden­ti­ty cri­sis. They wish to appear autonomous and yet bank heav­i­ly on the sup­port of the Army Chief to sur­vive. None of them have been able to com­plete their terms

Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA
Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA) mag­a­zine is the only ISO 9001:2008 cer­ti­fied, pre­mier world class, new wave month­ly mag­a­zine which fea­tures par­a­digm chang­ing in-depth analy­ses on defence, secu­ri­ty, safe­ty and sur­veil­lance, focus­ing on devel­op­ing and strate­gic future sce­nar­ios in India and around the world.

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →