The emerging civil-military relationship in Pakistan by Mumtaz Piracha

The emerging civil-military relationship in Pakistan



Mumtaz Piracha










Our politicians must learn to live with other powers in the country; be it the military, opposition, media, judiciary, civilian bureaucracy and so on and let each power player to have space in the setup. When you put any power player up against the wall, the reaction will be violent…

Our politicians have had proverbial love and hate relationship with the military in Pakistan since 1958, if not earlier. It was love when they wanted to get into power or stay there; it was hate when they were checked, questioned, cornered or removed. Who didn’t came into power WITHOUT the military’s support? None.

It is good to note that the prime minister has frequented his meetings with the ‘khakis’ in the recent days and weeks. It is good for him to create a perception for the general public, not for the enlightened ones, of a better relationship or his intention to have a better relationship with the military forces. It is good for the military to be ‘bestowed’ with the perception of desirable civil-military relations again for general public consumption, not for the enlightened ones for the latter knows what lies behind it. On the top of it, the message signalled to the other two components of the Establishment as to who really matters for them in and around Pakistan also suits the third component.
It is for the first time that the PMLN leadership is surrounded on all sides within a short life of one year in power. It is really cornered now. Regardless of what titles the PMLN spokespersons bestow on the opposition leaders especially Imran Khan, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri and Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed, the fact remains that these three gentlemen are giving unbearably tough time to the PMLN leadership. The psychologists opine that when a person is in distress, his/her reaction takes a nose-dive. So is the case with the PMLN leadership in general; notwithstanding exceptions. Surprisingly, the Godfather appears to be relaxed, calm and composed for reasons best known to him. 
It is time the PMLN leadership did a bit of introspection. It is easy to blame others for everything wrong, but next to impossible to look inside to blame oneself. That’s our cultural heritage and applies to all and sundry. The PMLN leadership has been blundering again and again without a second thought over the past one year. It has altogether forgotten its party manifesto and election promises. The people never asked for metro buses and metro trains; it asked for and needed its constitutional rights to be enforced for its wellbeing. There has been no major reforms in any sector in the last one year benefitting the people in general.
The start-up of Musharraf’s trial was totally uncalled for and unwanted. It is generally assumed that the PMLN leadership was ready to let him off the hook IF he agreed to be exiled for 10 years with a ban on his political activities abroad to which the general didn’t agree nor did his party. That refusal lead to the PMLN’s decision to put the general in the dock.
How Musharraf came into power? That’s something that the PMLN leadership has to rethink about and accept its own follies. It is hard to believe that the then prime minister was caught unaware of the Kargil operation. He chose to blame the Army to save his own international reputation putting the prestige of the entire institution in jeopardy. From May to July 1999, the high command did the introspection and made up its mind to fix the political leadership. The government either didn’t know what was cooking up or didn’t have the guts to take on the general. It had its own trusted But as head of the ISI at that time. It waited till Oct to dismiss the general and replace him with its trusted But without looking at his credentials. The general in uniform was dismissed in the air on his way home without realizing the after-effects and the fact that the coup had already been planned by the institution, not the general. The army could not let the political leadership do to Musharraf what it did to Karamat. 
Going back into history, the military coup by General Zia-ul-Haq wasn’t planned in a day or week. It was planned when the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto chose to make frequent changes in the top army slot. That signalled his mindset and the institution started planning his ouster. PNA movement just paved the way for the planned July 5, 1977 coup to take place on the ground.
Our politicians must learn to live with other powers in the country; be it the military, opposition, media, judiciary, civilian bureaucracy and so on and let each power player to have space in the setup. When you put any power player up against the wall, the reaction will be that of the ‘shair ki khala.’ No matter how small the cat is; it is in her genes to react violently when cornered.
The PMLN leadership is now at its lowest ebb. It has got to rethink the whole environment in the context of critical happenigs within and outside Pakistan having a bearing on the country. It must realize it needs really competent, honest and dedicated people to work for it in the party and the government. The present lot is sapped of energy and innovative thinking and ideas. The party and the government just can’t be run with the present lot in the saddle. Buts and Khawajas are no longer relevant to the 21st century Pakistan.
Last but not least, the Establishment has no desire to dislodge the PMLN government at this point of time. It would like to live and let live for its own interests. It is the ideal time for the PMLN to take hold of the situation and make bold decisions to revamp the party and its officials in government if it has the desire to continue for next five years. There is not enough time to drag the change for indefinite time.Take it or leave it. There is no choice.

Sanity must prevail at all costs for the sake of Pakistan, its people and the PMLN.

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