The Pakistan Military – Civilian divide. A view.

Here’s a quick gallop on the civilian military conundrum in Pakistan.

While we all know the challenges of our evolution as a nation state, we must remember that our institutions couldn’t develop as strongly as India’s, because they inherited the entire governance and institutional infrastructure of pre partition India, whilst we got odd bits and pieces and broken remnants.

We had to build everything afresh, except the military.

Thus, India inherited a mercantile -urban based strong civilian infrastructure embedded in its body politic, and centuries long legacy of urban political engagement.

Pakistan was another story.

Our political leadership, unlike India’s, rose from an agrarian, feudal, tribal, jagirdari set up, without having sacrificed anything for the country. All the public service administrators, in what later became West Pakistan, were either Hindu (70%), and even higher, in then, East Pakistan.

And those who were Muslims were mostly urban Urdu speaking, from UP, CP, and not sons of the soil, Punjabis, Pathans, Baluchis or Sindhis. Very few joined the civil services. Most lived agrarian lives, or joined the Army, especially from Punjab and Frontier.

The Pakistan Army was the only institution which, like all professional armies, has an inherent ability and training to quickly reorganize itself into a whole and effective body, rapidly regained it’s efficacy. In those post 2nd World War days it was very common for military units to be disbanded, re-raised, transferred. Change was and is the very lifeblood of an Army like ours. Hence, rapidly, the bits and pieces of those units that were to become the nucleus of our Army, became a whole, homogenous entity.

Not so the civilian institutions! Ayub’s martial law was a huge setback as it over turned the supremacy of civilians and institutions, who were weak and nascent, to begin with. And one can argue, that had Ayub not taken over, our civilian public governance institutions would have been stronger.

Perhaps. However, I don’t think so. Let us also not forget, we are a very young state. India is not. That’s a fundamental factor to remember. India just continued on governing itself as it had been governed prior to partition. Pakistan was completely different.

Everything was new, EXCEPT the Army. If Ayub hadn’t taken over, another Army chief would have done the deed soon after.  It had to happen. In fact the first attempt was the failed Rawalpindi conspiracy of 1951. And this is my considered opinion.

Because inherent in that early post partition environment was the fact, that a seemingly efficient disciplined institution, the Army, with a strong colonial and elitist ethos and value system, was angrily eyeing a squabbling pack of, what appeared to them,  incompetent, power hungry, corrupt politicians, fighting to preserve their status quo. Rightly or wrongly is another debate. But that was the sentiment.

And this view by the men in Khaki was further reinforced by the loot and plunder of most, if not all, subsequent civilian administrations in Pakistan. All or most, when in power, rather than work for the people of Pakistan and strengthen their institutions, weakened and destroyed them, focussing only on preserving their own power and influence.

Bhutto, riding on a wave of huge popular support, and his demagoguery  had an opportunity. But, himself a feudal, quickly dislodged the democrats and socialists in his party, and welcomed the feudals who became part of his party and of every other political party. If one can point at a watershed period where institutional decay commenced, then it’s most certainly Bhutto’s period.

His three actions had huge impact on Pakistan. Nationalization. Declaring the Ahmadi community, non Muslims, and his refusal to accept Sh. Mujib as the Prime Minister, despite the Awami League’s overwhelming majority. These three actions shook the country to its very foundations. And the rest is history!

And today they are now more entrenched and sadly even more so because of the military rulers, who trucked with them to stay in power. And that is why I’m against Martial Law under the same putrid, rotten to the core, status quo system. Lets be clear. Another Martial Law will fall victim to the same conditions as the previous ones.

Another person who tried to break this stranglehold of the corrupt civilian elite, was Air Marshal Asghar Khan. And he failed, miserably.

Today, Nawaz Sharif, symbolises the new “urban- feudal” who joined hands with the rural feudal and thus acquired power by hijacking the electoral and political process with money, power and privilege, and partnering, with the Army, to further entrench themselves.

So what now?

Our hope and future lies in a system that will break the stranglehold of the urban and rural elite and which can ensure the supremacy of civilian rule. This is what will set us on the path of sustained and long term progress and development. And not the path of a police / security state.

But till that doesn’t happen, and it is unlikely, perhaps impossible, under people like Nawaz Sharir and Asif Zardari, and the forces they represent, because  weak institutions suit them perfectly. We will continue to meander aimlessly and painfully in this quicksand of corruption, misgovernance and exploitation, becoming weaker and weaker.

They’ve masterfully managed to destroy whatever efficacy the civilian institutions had, so they could rule like monarchs. Their only fear is from the Army which has been a constant threat to their loot and plunder.

Consequently, whenever the civilian loot and plunder would hit new heights (or lows), the Army leadership used its muscle and usurped power. A role and power, which clearly is not rightfully theirs. But this is the unfortunate and sad reality.

And let’s also not forget that despite all its acts of commission and omission, the Army has retained it’s relatively meritocratic ethos and hence been saved from becoming another failed institution.

Imagine a Pakistan in which our Army became another police force or a civilian public sector institution.

Imagine a scenario where Generals and Brigadiers and Lt. Cols and Majors were being promoted and posted and transferred, with impunity, as we see today happening to the police IG’s and DIG’S and SSP’S and SP’S and SHO’s on the whims of an Asif Zardari, a Nawaz Sharir or the younger Sharir!

So, in my opinion, the military, which clearly has acquired huge power and influence as a consequence of weak civilian institutions, and far in excess of what it should have, will NOW only respect an equally disciplined and relatively mertitocratic civilian space.

And the hope is that our civilian institutions will develop, as soon as we have an electoral and governance system which allows people of integrity and competence to reach powerful policy making roles in governance.

It is then that we will see the correct balance of power between the Politicians and the Military.

The answer lies in building civilian institutions not destroying the military. The latter, an ardent desire of our eastern neighbor! But unfortunately till our civilian institutions remain weak, this saga of loot and plunder will continue, unabated.

And the great danger is, and a very real one it is, that the very rich and powerful and extremely corrupt political vested interests may finally infect the Army, with their virus of corruption and nepotism, thereby destroying this great institution, which today, is the strongest force keeping our enemies at bay. Or even worse, put such tremendous strains on our national unity that they divide this very disciplined force.

And if either of the two happens, I see a very dark future! God Forbid.

So the Supreme Court and the people of Pakistan, must play their part in creating some time and space for a while, to embed a cleaner, more effective, transparent system!

If not, NS will again “sweep” into power with ONLY 17% of the registered vote, as he did in 2013 and merrily go about destroying this country.

Pakistan has a great future, under stable, honest, capable, civilian leadership.

But not under the corrupt like Nawaz Sharir, nor under a military government.

Putting Cyril Almeida on ECL- Patriotism or Fascism?

Putting Dawn journalist, Cyril Almeida on the ECL, by Nawaz Sharif, is an unfortunate and sad development of brow beating a newspaper and a journalist.
As I’ve stated earlier, Cyril is not known to make up things. One may disagree with his perspectives, as I often do, but to pressurize him by putting him on the ECL is as ham handed and stupid and idiotic an action as any, by whoever ordered it, military or civilian.
 And if I were a betting man, I would bet my last Rs. that eventually the trail would lead to Nawaz Sharif’s grubby paws all over it!
Dawn is an eminent paper. It is a patriotic paper.  If it does have a position on the Army it doesn’t mean it’s anti state. I have defended and also criticised our Army, publicly and privately. This doesn’t make one anti state or anti Army. 
In the past, Dawn has been at the forefront in fighting tyranny, dictators and exposing corruption. Don’t please fall into this trap of giving a dog a bad name and hanging him.Whatever one’s political differences with anybody, objectivity is critical. As Michelle Obama said… When they go low! You go high!
I have written harshly against Cyril, even called him a hack, but to put him on ECL and to target Dawn is wrong!
Under what law or crime can one justify this action?
Hameed Haroon manages Dawn, administratively.  He is Amber Saigol’s cousin and Saeed Haroon’s son and has very little leeway with the editorial functions of the newspaper.
Historically Dawn’s editors and it’s editorial policy have been fiercely  independent from any form of management control. Totally and completely. Even Hameed is unable to influence the Editor. Very different from papers like The News and others.
However I could be wrong about the Dawn that I know or knew. Perhaps it’s editorial independence has also fallen foul to commercial and political interests. If so, then a very sad day for the media as its finest now bites the dust!
Dawn’s editorial policy has mostly been, liberal, left of centre and fairly secular. Internally, theyve actively supported democratic processes and rule of law and externally, peace with India based on equal terms and state to state engagement and not through the use of Kashmiri Jihadi outfits.
This in principle is also the view of all sane Pakistanis as well as the Army. I know the last from personal insight.
However, one doesn’t slay a dragon in one day and in one swoop. Especially when the institutions in Pakistan are so weak and there is a silent battle between a corrupt Nawaz Sharif administration and an Army, fully committed to fighting terrorism and indirectly trying to eliminate corruption and misgovernance.
The Army has just come off fighting a decade long battle for Pakistan’s survival with the TTP and literally saved the country from total and complete anarchy. So its image is high and its Chief, perhaps the most popular person in the country. So this was a perfect opportunity by Nawaz Sharif to hit out, cunningly. Which he did through Cyril and Dawn.
One may not agree with many of the articles in Dawn, or calling Kashmiri jihadis, terrorists etc, but by no stretch of imagination is the newspaper anti Pakistan. I have serious issues with what many of their journalists write, including some who I know personally. But let’s not get into a Joe McArthy type”witch hunt” and label and destroy.
Dissent is good. It is the very essence of a progressive society. It keeps people in power in check. It stops fascism from taking over.
Otherwise power centers will steam roll over human rights in the name of God,  King and Country. Let this not happen again in Pakistan.  Nawaz Sharif has deliberately created this to bring a bad name to the Army. I have no doubt. Cyril was a stupid unwitting and willing fool in this. I personally don’t like him or his pretentious writing. But ECL. A HUGE NO!
In summary. 
This is an evil plot by PM NS to further damage and sully the reputation of the Army by creating this impression of the Army behind these strong arm fascist tactics. He actually may have even told them about this action and getting the Army’s nod, thus cleverly embroiling them as well.
A most dangerous game by NS to bait the Army and put them on the back foot with Cyril, a stupid pawn in this Machiavellian ploy by NS.
These action can possibly have very serious and dangerous portents. I think PM Nawaz may have  overstepped a “bridge too far” in his attempt to sully the Army’s image by showing them soft pedalling against the Kashmir Jihadist outfits. 
The Army was and is fully committed to defang all types of non state actors. It is well known that on many occasions, the Army high command presented detailed plans on addressing the issue of the Jihadis in Punjab. And every single time, both the the PM and his brother the CM of Punjab told the Army to “lay off” and that the civilian law enforcement apparatus would the deal with the issue.
Thats why I say, that the rose tinted prisms through which Cyril and others see the current scenarios are outdated. They still live in  the “cold war” era!
So one cannot be a party to this witch hunt and fascist behaviour of putting Cyril on the ECL! For two reasons. One, it reeks of fascism and two, it’s a dirty trick to malign the Army. 
If anyone. It’s NS and SS who should be on the damn ECL! 
And that perhaps is the task that the Supreme Court should focus on!

Nawaz Sharif -Checkmating the Army ?

On Cyril Almeida’s Dawn article, and the battle between Nawaz Sharif and the Army High Command.

Cyril’s article and reports of changes in ISI are classic trial balloons by NS to test waters.

He’s up to something very dirty and nasty. Raheel is currently  lame duck with a month to go. 4 General officers eyeing the COAS and CJSC posts. NS has everyone guessing his next moves. Totally Machavellian.

Army High Command at its weakest and most vulnerable and in my opinion, Nawaz Sharif checkmated, Raheel.

He had it all planned to start this anti Army thing when Raheel was lame duck just before his retirement.

All this time he took Raheel for a ride, by his sweet talk. And then the sudden lunge to attack and catch the Army, off guard. And the timing!

NS and Co have survived because of such tactics.  They waited and then baited when Raheel has just over a month to go to unleash their tactics.

I don’t doubt the veracity of Cyril’s article. And I’m pretty certain Shahbaz said what he said. And then to use Cyril to release it.

Cyril reported what was shared with him by someone who was present there, and likely very senior and credible enough to get his attention because Cyril does not lie. Perhaps SS himself or  Pervez Rashid.

For Cyril this was a major scoop. The issue is not the meeting but what took place in the meeting. Shahbaz Sharif, who from barely two months ago carrying a message to Raheel that Nawaz will resign, to now openly confronting the ISI Chief is quite a dramatic change in spine. This was NOT about Army’s support of Jihadi groups BUT to stop the Army and Rangers from taking action in Punjab, which was the ASK from Gen. Rizwan. And then craftily, turning the tables on him and telling him that only the Punjab police and civilian intelligence apparatuses would do so.

 Brilliant tactics to achieve two goals.

Off balance the Army high command, give them a backander,  and most importantly got them off his back in Punjab. Simply beautiful. I think GHQ must still be reeling from this broadside.

The article was very unlike Cyril. For him to write a news report vs an oped type piece was, for me at least, a very surprising first. So he was used, either unwittingly and or willingly, going by his tweets.

It was sad to see the death of another so called liberal warrior, who thought he was fighting the war for democracy, but actually fell for the shenanigans of these crooks and plunderers, masking as democrats.

Cyril and his lot, with their paper rattling pretentions of shrieking from the peaks of hypocritical righteousness are no different than their sabre rattling equally pretentious hypocrites of the right wing Jihadi brigades.

In a way it’s good that Cyril’s holier than though pretentious facade has been uncovered.

Cyril my friend. You’re just another hack for hire, is all I can say.

Ultimately, Raheel was ambushed by a wily politician who’s been a master at this game of cut and thrust and deception and cunning and conning tactics, all his life.

How else can he be, where he is.

The Generals were sitting ducks in this game of brinkmanship, with just two options.

Lump it or Dump them. And from what one can see, its pretty much, lump it.

And honestly no one to blame but those who let NS remain in power and didn’t exert the boot. When it was the time and the opportunity the good General didn’t make any moves.

Will he now? I doubt it. And ML or anything close is also not the answer. These guys had and have to be defeated through the courts and the streets.

Both are silent. In fact everybody. Except us folks on social media.

But RS had his opportunity and he thought he would prevail without intervening.  He couldn’t.  So he lost. Nawaz won.

Now, Raheel and or whoever takes over has very limited options, including the crackdown in Punjab.

For now NS has won this game of chess.

For the future. Don’t know. Unless something  extraordinary happens to upend the situation so dramatically that the inevitable becomes the only option.

Otherwise. This round to NS. But a
dangerous game Nawaz is playing