‘Critical’ areas ‘breached’ by Mr. Haqqani and his ‘boss’: inquiry into the Abbotabad incident, the indication that a primarily civilian ‘National Security Team’ would be constituted, and finally, the affirmation of the closure of directorate ‘S’ of the ISI
Presently, every endemic problem this country is facing can be traced to the military’s complete dominance over policy formulation in all critical areas, having a direct bearing on this country and its inhabitants.
From terrorism to insurgency to obscurantism to militancy to a flawed foreign policy to missing persons to an inflated defense budget at the cost of all other productive sectors are areas having roots in the ‘National Security Doctrine’ constructed, defined, protected and promoted by the military.
Any attempt by any civilian government to ‘breach’ the ‘National Security Doctrine’ is viewed by the military as a hostile act against the national interest (read military’s interest) and is countered by actions ranging from soft warnings to a full- fledged military coup.
The ‘threat perception’ by the military is independent of the performance of the government and its past conduct as regards the military; and may lead to the inevitable viz derailment of the political process.
After the completion of the Hamood-ur-Rahman Commission Report in 1974, Bhutto not only set aside all its recommendations against the Generals, he also ordered the destruction of the entire Report; only to be toppled and hanged a few years later.
Benazir accepted all the terms dictated by the army in 1988; only to be deposed two years later.
In 1999 Nawaz Sharif brokered a deal involving the Americans to rescue the Pak army units trapped in Kargil; only to be dethroned and incarcerated eight months later.
The present government has accepted every demand made by the army; from enhancing the salary package (grant of special allowance equal to double the basic salary) to overlooking the GHQ, Mahran and Abbotabad debacles only to be embroiled in the ‘Memogate’.
As amply proven by history, pleasure of the generals never guarantees stability and security. Hence the mindset that capitulating to the military would ensure the continuation of the constitutional term has never been a viable option in the past.
As we trace the roots of military dominance, we find that Pakistan inherited a ragtag crowd of corrupt political elite whose internal rifts and continuous infighting resulted in the military’s increased role in policy making and finally imposition of martial law with the army coming to the forefront.
As the army directly ruled Pakistan for 33 long years, prolonged military rule in Pakistan strengthened the men in uniform to such an extent that any democratically elected government which came into power found it almost impossible to ignore the sensibilities of the generals. Hence they continued to influence policy formulation in all key areas.
There are red areas which no civilian is allowed to cross over. However, if trespassed, would always lead to loss of seat of power in Islamabad.
Following are the key areas where the army would continue to exercise its complete monopoly:-
The military’s primary interest revolves around the protection and advancement of its professional and corporate interests, based on the self-defined ‘National Security Doctrine’. As long as any civilian government ensures that these critical areas would not be infringed upon, it continues to survive. The army immediately comes into action and the 111 Brigade, based in Rawalpindi is mobilized the moment any ‘threat’ real or imagined is perceived by the generals.
Presently the army controls the nuclear policy and the nuclear assets. The President who happens to be the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces cannot have any access to sensitive info. The policy towards India is another vital area where army has almost complete hegemony, as no government can improve relations with India unilaterally. Currently the Afghan policy and Pakistan’s relations with the USA and its NATO allies are also being governed by guidelines dictated by the Pakistan army.
The military is also keenly interested in procurement of equipment with foreign policy implications and does not want any civilian government to have a say in this process.
Ministry of Defense is completely taken over by the Military. (Secretary Defense defied his Minister and the PM, but could not be replaced). The Secretary Defense is a retired general and looks after the interests of the military. No civilian authority can have a say in the promotions, transfers and other professional matters of the military (Remember what happened when Nawaz Sharif replaced Musharraf).
The military decides on the amount it wants as defense budget and no civilian authority is authorized any oversight of the releases, let alone any reduction in defense spending.
The military officers, as a result of perks and privileges which the service guarantees and preoccupation with lucrative positions have accumulated huge assets which they want to secure and hence do not want any accountability on any forum(NAB can nab the Prime Minister but not a serving Captain).
As the army does not allow the civilian leadership to bring about a change in its foreign policy, lately it has completely taken over the Foreign Office. (The CJCSC and DGI both participated in the conference of Pakistan’s envoys held on 12-13 Dec, 2011 in Islamabad).This shows the military’s involvement in a purely civilian domain.
Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, the Finance Minister is a nominee of the Pakistan army and ensures that whatever amount is demanded by the military is handed over without any loss of time.
The primary reasons for the military’s ‘annoyance’ with the present government are certain ‘critical’ areas ‘breached’ by Mr. Haqqani and his ‘boss’.
First of all, assuring the Americans of an independent inquiry into the Abbotabad incident and how OBL managed to live in a garrison town for six long years.
And further assurance that anybody found guilty of involvement in the incident would be taken to task regardless of the fact whether he is a civilian or belonging to the military.
Secondly, the guarantee that all terrorists operating within Pakistan would be either captured or killed.
Thirdly, the indication that a primarily civilian ‘National Security Team’ would be constituted to ensure that a framework is in place guaranteeing the safety of the nuclear assets.
Finally, the affirmation of the closure of directorate ‘S’ of the ISI which deals with the ‘management’ of ISI’s proxies and undercover agents operating inside Afghanistan, and lastly the institution of an independent inquiry into the Mumbai incident, are two other killer proposals which have distressed our military.
The reason why the military has not toppled the democratic dispensation so far is lack of collaboration from the opposition parties (primarily PML(N)), Superior Judiciary’s refusal to validate the military action after the coup d’état and strained relations with the US.
However any such extra-constitutional act in the name of ‘National Security’ cannot be ruled out as and when the military decides that the time has come to ‘move in’.
At present, the military is drawing 5 billion dollars, annually, from the national kitty, with expenditures having no parliamentary oversight. A large part of the job assigned to the army has also been outsourced to the lashkars in the tribal areas. Similarly jihadi groups have been thoroughly trained and funded out of non-auditable funds to act not only against India but also Afghanistan and Western forces within Afghanistan.
Meanwhile the mammoth corporate army flourishes over a dying political economy.
|Waseem Altaf is a social activist.