Civil-military relations on the wane: PILDAT | Pakistan Today

Civil-military relations on the wane: PILDAT

The civil-military relations showed serious deterioration during the year 2011 and Pakistan’s policies and its deteriorating relations vis-à-vis the United States can be largely seen as the cause of a growing wedge between the elected government and the army.
A report carried in quarterly monitor of Pakistan Institute of Legislative and Transparency (PILDAT) says the issue of the alleged memo, seen by some as the civil government’s wish-list to contain the army, and by others who, albeit are in fewer numbers, as a storm in a tea cup, came to be at the heart of the estrangement in civil-military relations at the end of 2011.
“The same elected government, which continually came to the public rescue of the military after the killing of Osama bin Laden, US targeting of the ISI and the NATO attack, resorted to an open confrontation with the army,” it adds.
The government appeared to be most disturbed at the position taken by the army in the memo controversy as it is diametrically opposed to that of the civil government.
“Year 2011 also witnessed a relatively weak civilian prime minister breaking the sound barrier on civil-military relations in Pakistan by obliquely referring to intelligence apparatus or the military as a ‘state within the state” – an open public position that has never before been taken by even the most powerful Prime Ministers of Pakistan,” the report says.
While his words may continue to change, the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan recorded an elected prime minister deprecating the dominant role demanded by the armed forces and the associated intelligence apparatus in national policy making.
On January 9, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, in an interview to a Chinese news agency, said the chief of army staff and ISI director general had submitted replies to the Supreme Court without seeking approval of the competent authority and their statements carried no legal import.
This statement was replied to by a press release issued on January 11, by the military which warned that such allegation can have “serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country”.
The PILDAT report says for some time following the dismissal of the defence secretary, the exposed cleavages between the elected government and the military seemed reminiscent of the Kargil controversy in 1999 in which either the elected government could be sent packing or the military commanders’ tenures could be curtailed. “Eventually, however, better sense prevailed and both sides pulled back from the brink.”
Developments in judicial investigation of the memo scandal indicate that proving that the memo has been written by Hussain Haqqani on the behest of the president of Pakistan will be extremely difficult. The commission’s deadline to complete its inquiry has been extended twice during this period.
Meanwhile, there have also been reports in the media that an understanding has been reached between the civil and military leadership on the memo controversy, the report says. About NATO attack and strained Pak-US relations, the report says that what has been termed by the Pakistan Army as a “deliberate” attack of NATO on Pakistan’s security posts on November 26, 2011 resulted in the Prime Minister ordering an immediate closure of the NATO/ISAF logistics supply lines, US vacating the Shamsi Airbase and Parliamentary Committee on National Security to review Pak US relations.
The relationship between the US and Pakistan had begun to sour following the Raymond Davis saga and worsened after the May 2 US attack on Pakistan’s sovereign soil and the subsequent unfolding of events within Pakistan, pronouncements in Congress and by the military top brass in the US.
In Pakistan’s peculiar civil-military relations, it is a popular perception that major foreign policy decisions, especially relevant to India and the US, are taken only after the agreement of the armed forces.
“It is also believed by a sizeable public opinion that Pakistan’s elected representatives have had almost no role to play in influencing, guiding or even overseeing Pakistan’s foreign policy,” the report says.
“The review by the Parliamentary Committee on Pak-US relations and general foreign policy, therefore, is the first of its kind review and can not be considered a small feat for parliament that the prime minister desired parliament to guide him in developing a policy to be followed by Pakistan in relation to the US.” During the course of developing its recommendations, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) asked the government to submit the record of all cooperation agreements with the US, whether written or otherwise.
Nine pacts signed by the Musharraf regime after 2002 with the US with regards to the war on terror were presented to the committee by the Ministry of Defence. The 16-point recommendations of the Committee, called “Guidelines for Revised Terms of Engagement with US/NATO/ISAF and general Foreign Policy” can be termed as a constructive and comprehensive framework for improvement of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
A number of recommendations by the committee arrogate various rights to parliament such as use of Pakistani bases or airspace contingent on parliamentary approval.

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