Pakistan: Civil-Military Relations

By Mohammad Shehzad

Nawaz Raheel3
‘Nawaz Sharif Enterprises’ was up in arms when the military leadership bit its head off for not doing enough to implement the National Action Plan [NAP]. The generals want the inefficient politicians to do more on the terrorism front. (Though they did not use the word ‘inefficient’ but a wise man does not need any explanation.)
Blowing his top and crying out loud, our veteran politician Mehmood Khan Achakzai declared the generals’ grievance a ‘war between two Sharifs’ bestowing upon himself the title of ‘The Knight of Civilian Sharif’. Can we dare to ask him, Sir, where were you when the same civilian Sharif was deposed by General Musharraf and what castles had you conquered at that time?
Our so-called civil society has started harping the same string: the army is always under the civilian government in democracy. Yes, that’s true. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows this (provided there is democracy!) Our honorable Maulana Fazlur Rehman had a different take on this issue. The Maulana, who is indeed a politician for all seasons recently claimed that Pakistan had come into being as a result of his father’s struggle. (It is a different issue that Maulana’s father used to say that he was not an accomplice in the sin called creation of Pakistan!)
The Maulana says that the statement of the military leadership is a positive development. It was no warning. Thus it does not tantamount to interference in political matters. (We have always been a huge fan of Maulana’s optimism!)
Democracy in books and democracy on ground are two different things. When our naïve politicians say that military is under the civilians in a democratic set up, they are looking at the literal meaning of democracy. One hundred percent democracy exists nowhere, not even in the societies who have midwifed the democracy. The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America was signed on July 4, 1776 according to which all the human beings were created equal by God and they all had an absolute right to life, freedom and happiness. But trade of slaves was still legal. The judges of Supreme Court owned an army of slaves. Subjecting them to the most inhuman atrocities – even killing them – was legal. It took the Americans 89 years to abolish slavery – in 1865. In spite of this, the Blacks didn’t have the basic fundamental rights e.g. the right to vote.
The interesting point is, the Whites in America were unhappy with their British colonial rulers. The latter would levy heavy taxes on them without giving the taxpayers any representation in the British parliament. The American Whites would protest that the British empires don’t treat them as human beings. George Washington was an army general who raised the voice against this injustice. Of course, he was not alone. He had other friends too who later made the name as founding fathers of the United States. The British empires were defeated. But when oppressed became the rulers, the Blacks and the Native Americans became the slaves. The American Whites did not extend the Blacks and the Native Americans the very same rights for which they had rebelled against Britain. The Blacks had the right to cast vote in 1965. Theoretically, trade of slaves and every kind of racial discrimination must have come to an end with the birth of Declaration of Independence. But ‘theory’ and ‘practical’ are never the same.
Nawaz Sharif had a heavy mandate when he came to power second time. But it evaporated instantly when his favorite and handpicked army chief Pervez Musharraf staged a coup against him. The people welcomed the general and distribute sweets. Nawaz Sharif’s sycophants started licking Musharraf’s soles. (Now a days, they are again licking Sharif’s soles). Z A Bhutto was probably the most popular leader after the creation of Pakistan. But there was a pin drop silence the day he was hanged. What happened to those Jiyalas who used to say that there will be blood in every street if Bhutto were hanged? Power corrupts everyone and turn politicians into tyrants. And then people stop supporting them. They start looking for a Messiah. They saw a Messiah in Zia but it is a different issue that he proved to be a demon. Musharraf was not a demon but he was also not a Messiah.
The military leadership is not wrong in accusing the civilians of their incompetence on implementing NAP. NECTA is working sans regular staff for the last six years. It is also sans any services rules! How could the civilians complain that ‘faujis’ don’t let them work? Whenever the politicians will be corrupt and inefficient, the other powers would prevail. The politicians are too fond of making the foreign policies. Nawaz Sharif has completed almost half of his term but he has failed to appoint a full time foreign minister. Jihadists like Hafiz Saeed are our de facto foreign minister. Every political party who is in power or has been into power follows the path of dictatorship. All of them are mafias. Not a single party has anything to do with democratic values. Mafias flourish, not democracy in a society where one needs millions of rupees to contest a national or provincial assembly seat. This is the state of affairs in Pakistan. The founding fathers of Pakistan were honest, hardworking, sincere besides having a conviction. The leaders of today have none! All they want is money and power to keep the people subjugated for life. Their aim to bring the army under their foot is not for strengthening democracy but to rule with absolute authority. They still have enough power which can change the lives of the people. PMLN has failed to improve the infrastructure of schools in its constituency.
Making Pakistan was a far difficult challenge than bringing the army under the civilian control. The army will automatically come under the politicians control if they decide they will give up corrupt practices and follow the spirit of democracy. Here is an example. If Nawaz Sharif vacates the Prime Minister House and sets up a university there and shifts to a 3-bed apartment with his staff and starts commuting on public transport then he can set up an example for every general to adopt austerity. The VIP culture will disappear. After all, the British prime minister does so!
In the past, our politicians have made botched attempts to bring judiciary under their control. Nawaz Sharif sent his goons to Supreme Court in November 1997. Was it a democratic act by a democratically elected prime minister? Instead of doing this, if he had strengthened the protection of the judges as well as the witnesses, today, the need would not have arisen to set up military courts. Regrettably, the politicians have only two strategies to fight terrorism: a) ban on pillon-riding; b) ban on mobile phone services!
The army can’t be brought under control by just winning the elections. It also needs honesty, sincerity, strong character and vision. Our politicians don’t have these. Give a green garden to a rookie and it will be destroyed in weeks. This is exactly Pakistan’s dilemma. We need a good gardener.


The writer is a freelance journalist/researcher based in Islamabad. Email:

  • bjk

    How much do the khakis pay these days for adulatory sycophantic craps of nonsense?

  • Your hysteria is really ratcheting up my dear….
    Its a foregone conclusion that you will never enter this great country. your type isnt wanted here. nor is your type wanted anywhere else apparently and with good reason. unemployed and unemployable, your ranting mania Is the death of your future. seek proper mental healthcare and you may be able to pull off a reasonable living. otherwise you are doomed to your internet trolling behavior which shows you as being a complete, bitter and utter classless fool…a court jester for all to laugh at. mental health issues need to be addressed every bit as much as physical health issues. no need for shame. just need for treatment. seek what you need man. really.

  • Heavenlybreeze

    To the militarist women and children are of value only for ulterior motive otherwise they are just insulting words in the institution. The military that has been butchering children with impunity through participating in the AmeriKKKan drone program or through its own war on its people, not to mention the poverty whose victims are over 80% children, as its officers and dictators live in luxury, observes “black day” to commemorate children killed in school last year- what a f’ing sham.