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Time to give army permanent place

16 August, 2005

By Farzana Shah


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"The continuous intervention by the army has derailed democracy in Pakistan --- Army has mutilated the constitution --- Army must go back to the barracks. Army ---  ".  Hmmm,  sounds familiar!  Sure, we often hear the politicians castigating the military for all the ills of the country and shrugging off their shoulders for their own follies. Their oft-repeated excuse for their inadequacies is that the democracy is allowed to nurture, to take its roots here in Pakistan. Every Tom Dick and Harry, in a bid to prove him/herself the biggest champion of democracy issues statements crying her/his heart out by blaming the Army for everything wrong in the country without even remotely admitting any of their own follies. But why has the army to intervene in the first place if the political forces claiming to be the true custodians of democracy in the country perform transparently and efficiently?  Why are the men in Khakis considered by all as the last hope to clean the Augustan stable every time it is left by the murky politicians? Even a cursory look at our history will point out that the not-much-enviable performance of the greedy politicians coupled with their apathy towards strengthening the democratic institutions in the country had always paved the way for army take-overs since the inception of Pakistan.

The country has been faced with the perpetual crises - both democratic as well as constitutional – and is still suffering from the malaise owing to the elitist class' insatiable avarice for grabbing the top slots in every institution of Pakistan. Soon after the creation of this land of the pure young men from the nouveau riche and the elite classes started joining the bureaucracy and the Army knowing well that these two would play the most dominant and affective role in governing the country. The early demise of the father of nation coupled with the assassination of  its first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, in dubious circumstances,  opened the doors for the feudals and the army  adventurists to enter into the political arena in a marked manner. The politicians due to their political diverseness and other petty self interests failed to frame the constitution of Pakistan soon after the independence. Ch. Mohammad Ali’s constitution of 1956 did not see much light of day and was abrogated in 1958 by General Muhammad Ayub Khan.  (Now) Field Marshal Ayub  set aside his own very constitution of 1962 in 1969 while passing on the mantle of power to General Yahya Khan. The most eulogised and talked about constitution of 1973  framed during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto era and somehow still surviving though amended umpteen times,  is considered by some as an instrument of strengthening feudalism further in the country who dominate the politics and consequently the power in a big way.  As the time passed, the feudal politicians in cahoots with the bureaucracy realising the inevitable intervention of the army, took certain extra constitutional measures which they considered would be the panacea to resolve the political crises, but in fact these further confounded the confusion.. Most of the elected parliamentarians - both Provincial as well as National - belong to the upper class and are  Chaudhries, Makhdooms, Pirs, Maliks, Sardars, Nawabs, Nawabzadas, etal.  They form the inalienable part of every government – be it military,  civil, coalition or even just a Shoora  or a care taker!  No government can run without them.  And the DEMOCRACY can not repeat cannot flourish in an atmosphere where politics is a family affair.

Unfortunately for Pakistan most political parties that matter; PPP, PML, ANP and other nationalist as well as religious parties barring a very few, whether this faction or that faction are just a family affair. The party leadership is always succeeded by the heir who is automatically elected from the hereditary constitution and becomes the party leader, of course without any elections ever held within the party!  Benazir Bhutto installed herself Chairperson for Life of the PPP and Bilawal is the heir apparent.  Whether Makhdoom Fahim or Shah Mahmood like it or not, they have no chance ever to  lead the party as long as there is even a Bhutto son-in-law or a daughter-in-law not necessarily of Pakistan origin (Ghinwa) around. Likewise the ANP is Bacha Khan family affair. Despite the tussle between the mother -Begum Nasim Wali -and  the son -Asfandyar Wali - for the top slot in the party, intellectuals and the founding members like Ajmal Khattak  have either to sit on the back benches or part ways with the party.  Maulana Fazal -ur-Rehman of JUI is grooming his son and the grandson of Mufti Mahmood to step in when the time comes. So is the order of succession religiously followed by others, be they be Bugtis, Mangals, Jatois, Somoroos, Jams, Lagharis, Jamalis, Makhdooms and now the Chaudhries or Sharifs.

Talking of democracy, the country saw the worst political period from 1950 to 1958 which was marred by grave political instability. The country had as many as seven prime ministers in as many years. During the later democratic sojourns the impact of parochial and ethnic politics was so pronounced that almost all  successive governments had been weak due to lack of majority in the legislator of any political party. Collation governments had to be resorted to which are  inherently instable.  This weak collation phenomenon gave rise to the ignominious ‘horse trading’ where the members change loyalties for political and materialistic gains. To thwart such naked bargaining "Changa Manga" and ‘Swat’ operations had to be enacted. In 1988 elections MPAs were virtually held hostage at Manga rest house and Nawaz Sharif who was then the Punjab Chief Minister managed  support of more than 50 independent MPAs to form the government. The practice still goes on and the political forces claiming to be the well-wishers of masses do not let go any opportunity of safeguarding their interests.

As for as tempering of the constitution is concerned people at the helm of affairs
in every elected government laid their hands on "constitutional engineering"
making it more suitable for their particular interests.  The main architect of the 73 constitution incorporated four amendments to it in the very first week of its signing by all the political parties of the day!  The Prime Minister with the heaviest electoral mandate showed scant respect for the constitution and terrorised the judiciary by attacking the most sacred institution Supreme Court of the country.

Such practices are not in the least becoming of the politicians who decry of not being allowed to nourish and nurture the democratic institutions in the country.  Every time they got the opportunity, they flouted it recklessly. They served themselves and at that served very well too, instead of serving the masses and ameliorating the lot of their constituents.  At times their ‘dictatorial’ behaviour invoked mass protestations from the opposing parties nearly sparking off ‘civil war’.  At other times, they themselves invited the army to intervene. Jamaat Islami, the greatest opponent of General Musharraf’s quasi democratic regime was the greatest proponent of the purely Martial Law regime of General Zia!  

By considering all these factors it comes to the fore that the self serving interests of the politicians and their mutual sparring made it easy for the army to intervene in the absence of any other organised force. Ironically, during all these years, right from the days of independence,  army has also learned the art of  intricate politics and emerged as an alternate and a wiser political force ready to steer the country out of crises. Usually the armies are not meant to indulge in politics the world over. However, keeping in mind the situation in Pakistan the politicians can no longer keep the Khakis away due to their own lack of interest in honestly working for strong democratic institutions and untiring efforts for filling their own pockets inflicting heavy losses to the national exchequer.

The 1999 coup was not only self-invited but also an indicator of the fact that army could not be sidelined anymore and the politicians should refrain from tempering with it or trying to domesticate it for perpetuating their own power.  Nawaz Sharif tried to domesticate the most disciplined institution and paved the way for another military take over. On the other hand all  state matters could not be left to the irresponsible political leaders like Benazir Bhutto and others who had been issuing statements abroad regarding some sensitive policy matters and defence related decisions of the country jeopardizing  its safety and integrity creating more problems.

Looking at the present state of the political parties one has to conclude that there is no coherence even among the major political parties. PPP is divided into PPP and the PPPP, the latter being part of the present government. Again PPP has other factions like Shaheed Bhutto group headed by Ghinwa Bhutto and the Sher Pao group. The main faction party leader Benazir is abroad under self exile.  Similarly PML is divided into a number of factions and groups each having its own leader. ANP is no better. Likewise are the MQM and the religious parties who cannot  claim majority  strong enough to form a government on their own.

Echoes of the backdoor negotiations by the leading political parties have also been circling the media which means they have accepted the military rule as a legitimate entity. It’s time that either the politicians got united and refused to be part of the military governments or  accepted the army as a  partner in national politics. Formulation  of the National Security Council by General Musharraf is a step in this direction and its acceptance by the politicians will tantamount to their acceptance of the army partnership in running the affairs of the land.  The world scenario and present situation in the country where internal disorder takes precedence over external threats, also call for Pak-Army’s permanent place in the politics. Similarly the country is faced with the political disorder where almost all the parties  seem to be directionless. None of them is in a position to deal effectively with the internal sources of insecurity and political disorder without the active support of the army. The political forces should avoid pushing and pulling the military off the sidelines and should rather accept the ground realities.  In that let army play its stabilising role in reinstating the political process in the country.   On the other hand the military should also make it more appropriate for itself to lend all support to the duly elected democratic government and guide the civilian bureaucracy and political forces at the macro-level polity decision-making, leaving  peripheral issues to political forces. Now that  the present control of the army has also been validated as per Constitution and the military has found politicians as its partners and interlocutors, the military leadership should avoid taking them for granted. The army is fully aware of the civil supremacy and should show visible respect to the civil authority. The military leadership has also to avoid militarisation of civil institutions and delegate the authority to them for their self administration. The National Security Council will have to play a dual check role. Stop the military from interfering in the affairs of the civil governments, and, keep an oblique eye on the civilians from falling prey to temptations leading to corruption and unethical practices.

Although we had found Musharraf through La force de choses--the force of
circumstances, who luckily has vision and some immense leadership qualities to handle the political issues but for how long can we rely on luck, its time to take the leadership crises seriously as:
{Leaders are Like Eagles,
You Don't Find them in a Flock
You Find them One at a Time.}

We have to have Institutional Leadership.  Strong institutions producing strong leaders. Not the type of dynastical leaders that we find in abundance.


End.

Reader Comments:

I agree with this author, Musharraf is is the best thing that happened to Pakistan. Military is best suited to help run the country, President has rightly appointed over1000 military personnel to various important civil positions. Besides true democracy with complete equality to all the citizens may not be ideal for Islamic republic of Pakistan, where there no separation of Mosque and state.

as ahmed, Pakistan - 16 August, 2005

Army's Future Role

Above story covers in detail facts that are more or less a repitition. It is the ending that requires elaboration.

We do need strong institutions, but how to get them? Politicians lack the rudimentary nuts and bolts of political democracy. Armies are not trained to run civilian institutions. Where do we go from here?

My observation is to go to our friends in Britain. Or invite some friendly parliamentarians from there. Let us go back in history and see what Sir Syed Ahmad Khan did? The 1857 "Revolt" -- we foolishly call it "war of independence" -- had jolted him. He was well aware of the wind of change that was to engulf the country. Britain was a much stronger country in all respects -- military, administration, education, judiciary and most importantly had strong backing of trade and commerce. He stands alone in pulling the Muslim community from out of the aches when the "revolt" had ended in its own demise.

What was his next step? In the first place, he had strong friends in the British elite class. Being a man of conviction and endowed with statesmanship, he went all out to win the hearts and minds of the British rulers for transformation of his people in the new culture to the mutual benefit of both. We need similar visionary people as our future leaders.

I strongly recommend discussions on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's landmark role in the light of his biography (the first ever) by his great admirer and life-long friend, Major General G.F.I Graham, on ithe Intertnet and electronic media. The Aligarh University mirrored the pivotal role the learned and dedicated British Professors played in its foundation and growth. What a contrast with the "Deoband" institution that created the "Talibans" in Afghanistan and with "Wahabiism" in Saudi Arabia!

A word about the Army's role. Of course, it must never, ever, enter into politics. Musharraf can invite the British to help in laying the "seed bed" of political democracy by developing two viable and strong mainstream political parties. Britain would readily come to help. Have patience. Emulate Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's way of working. He happened to be a "one man band". We are now a free nation and there is no dearth of true and dedicated candidates endowed to create a new "dawn" in Pakistan.

The absurd rhetoric of "sending" the Army "back to the bbarracks" should be shed for all times. Remeber the remarks of Supreme Court's Chief Justice who had asked Barrister Khalid Anwar: "Who can send the Army back?" Yes, no future role for the Army in the governance of the country. And Gen. Musharraf had better stop lauding and singing his own praise and start telling the nation to produce the future leadership. Let him allocate funds for "learning how to develop a political democratic system" with the help of our British friends.

Furthermore, the idea of calling the Army every time a state corporate institution bogged down, was both wrong and counter productive. How do you suppose the Army is trained in commercial expertise? We should call for professional experts from England who had built our railways, irrigation system, the judiciary and our educational institutions.

The Army can learn a lesson or two from the Chinese "People's Liberation Army" who helped build the industrial and corporate foundation of the country. Hpwever, once the playing field was leveled, the great leader Deng Xioping opened Chinise economy to the whole world and the results speak loud and clear for everyone. The Pakistan Army and Navy can get readily available assistance from China in the infrastructure development of Pakistan's "Fisheries" marine and aquatic fish farming wealth. Similarly the "China Overseas Shipoping (Group) Co. (COSCO) can breathe new life in the PNSC just for the asking.

We have a self-styled journalist by the name "Ayaz Aamir" who is devoid of fresh ideas, and never tires of pouring venom on the Army. For his guidance, the Army has a tremendous role in building strong fences with India in place of old and obsolete military installations built against threats from Russia. Remember what the legendary Sher Shah Suri had done in his less than 5 years' reign? He built military "garrisons" (something like the British successors did in the form of "Lal Kurtis"). The entire Central Asia and Afghanistan needs similar military "garrison" outposts to hel level the playing field for the global corporate giants to start on gigantic development work in the region. You can be sure such impediments to the economic development as the "North Waziristan" or Tribal Areas, etc. etc., would be erazed from the scene.

Sher Mohammad.
Email: sher_apr@yahoo.com



Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 17 August, 2005

Barracks & Borders: Legitimate place for army

For any civilized and proud nation, the permanent place of its army remains the barracks and borders. However, in garrison states like Pakistan tin-pot generals have dragged it into politics to serve their personal political ambitions. They ultimately started imagining that they are the cure for every ill but in reality they are part of the problem. From economy to politics, these generals assert themselves as experts on everything. Minds that are primarily programmed to cater to the security needs of the country are often hacked by tin-pot dictators to ruin civil society and convert the state into a permanent garrison.
Farzana Shah's article “Time to give army permanent place” in Pak Tribune seems an attempt to unsuccessfully portray the civil society, especially the politicians as main contributors to frequent military intervention derailing democracy. It is like blaming the passengers of a hijacked plane for their “folly' of getting onboard the plane. Or else cursing somebody held hostage on gun-point for the ugly act.
No civilized or progressive society can imagine giving a temporary or permanent role to the army in its governance. National armies are nurtured and nourished as fighting machines to save its civil society from foreign aggression. In our case, the policies of military dictators led to more miseries and deprivation of the masses as they pursued the policies of dividing the nation on ethnic and sectarian bases. The curse of ethnicity and sectarianism was born in General Zia's martial law, who patronized all such elements and sowed the grain of religious extremism and ethnic militant groups.
Farzana Shah writes that all successive elected governments had been weak due to lack of majority in the parliament. If she lives in Pakistan, then she may know that elections in Pakistan since 1970 are always fraudulently hijacked through pre- and post-poll rigging, thus the mandate of genuine popular parties is stolen. The malady of horse-trading and NABism are also the creation of the establishment.
The allegations that politicians served themselves can be clarified from any street of Pakistan, where anybody can be asked as to in whose tenure they were happier and doing well economically. The answer will be simple…Benazir Bhutto.
Ms. Shah's description of Benazir Bhutto as an irresponsible leader vis-à-vis sensitive policy and defence matters is also absurd because it was Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who laid the foundation of Pakistan's nuclear deterrence, and Benazir Bhutto who launched the missile programme which is leading to test-fires of both ballistic and cruise missiles like Ghori and Babur. How can any patriotic Pakistan call such leaders irresponsible? As far as the call for the unity of politicians is concerned, she must note that there are two kinds of politicians in Pakistan. One, the genuine politicians and the second lot being of the henchmen of General's or their test-tube politicians. The second class of politicians is imposed on the nation by military generals through gerrymandering of constituencies and election rigging.
The case made by Farzana Shah for a permanent place for the army in politics is based on arguments that carry little weight if verified from the ground reality and political wisdom.
Musharraf can be described as a man holding his countrymen hostage on gun-point. He is not a leader and no dictionary or encyclopedia or cluster of words can make an usurper a leader. Nor can it make a dictator into a nationalist leader.


Tariq Khan Jillani, Pakistan - 17 August, 2005

I must commend Farzana for starting another important debate here. The title is truly debatable, however understanding why the need to consider such an idea is so important, is a must for all concerned.
We must understand and appreciate that everything is subject to change and is changing always.
How have we arrived to such a situation, is as the learned author has explained, which I would like to sum up as our 'constant leadership vaccum' from the Father of our Nation onwards. Our very own evolved 'Elite syndrome' has done us more harm then the apathy we all talk about.

Without going much into our failures, which are abundantly obvious, it is extremely important to understand that how our civilian leadership failed us by tampering rather then building on sound footings our state institutions.
A cursory look shows that a General who was superceded/demoted by the father of our nation was made Chief of Army Staff, a decision which was without any merit and well established seniority criterion used for promotions in state institutions the world over.
Senior most in any institution, has generally reached a certain level by going through the mill and has hands on experience in all spheres. When the senior most is not made the head and the second or third or lesser in seniority is brought to the top, or if the decision is based on favouritism and or nepotism, then the result never can be good. For bad means have bad ends. Period.
General Ayub Khan was made COAS out of turn by Liaqat Ali Khan, senior and most accomplished officers were discarded and look at what the horrific result is of this action. So it was a politician who wronged us to start with.
Then later Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, without learning from history appointed Genral Zia ul Haq, who was 6th in number and not at all qualified for the post, as compared to his seniors. Look at what happened. Then we have Nawaz Sharif, who did the same and appointed Genral Musharraf who was third in line in terms of seniority. Whether this was a good decision or bad, we can debate, however it was not based on merit as the the two senior officers superceded Lt. General Ali Kuli Khan and Lt.Gen. Khalid Nawaz, all three were actually great friends, equals and colleagues, howver Nawaz Sharif did choose someone he does regret and we all rejoice.
In the divide between civilian and military rule, the golden periods of progress and stability have been the ones when the army led the country.
Why is that so, when the military man is not qualified to run a state then why does he perform better at the the top. We must analyse that, maybe he is more disciplined, focused and accountable. Maybe, we as common citizens trust him more, for he does stand guard at our border and deep down we all know what the real not perceived threats are to our country. I wish that our ciivilian leadership rises upto to the level of providing us the lead and not just bleed us type of thingi we are all afraid of.
In my humble opinion Pakistan Army should not be given a permanent place in running the state affairs, but say for the next two decades we should have the COAS or Joint Chief of Staff be the head of state, meaning be the President. We have been trying to work a westminister type of parliamentary democracy as is in UK. They also have a monarchy and spend quite a bit to have that in place, likewise we should let the leader of our brass be the head of state, who can oversee the elected executive side of things. More or less, that is the kind of system we currently are following, a quasi-presidential cum parliamentay mix. Let the president be the Chief of the Army, who can make sure things keep going the progressive and dynamic way, rather then some hairy fairy re-inventing the wheel type manner.
What I am proposing is to say for two decades let such a system operate, so that rather then in-fighting we can all focus on institution and state building, by having merit and seniority as golden principle never to be violated. The writters and the media has to start acting as watch dogs and watch out for not allowing the same mistakes which caused us incalculable losses in the past to be repeated over and over again.
What I have stated above may appear to make me look like favouring despotism, with that risk intact, I want to quote a dead uncle of mine who told me as a kid, "Good nations have good leaders". as I have grown and become a father myself, I can proudly say we are a great nation and we deserve great leaders and the future has much promise in store for us. Like someone else I respect very much said, hope can only come to our hearts, when we acknowledge our failures and the final depth we have reached.



Malik Shahid, Pakistan - 17 August, 2005

Education before democracy

Dear Pak Tribune
Looking at the state of affairs of the country of my ancestors from a far away distance, I often wonder, why Pakistanis often discuss their affairs in the past tense. Referring and learning from history is no doubt useful, but it can also be a shackle, hindering progress. In her excellent article, "Time to give army permanent place", columnist, Farzana Shah not only presented a clear analysis of the political situation in Pakistan but also presented a workable scenario.
The fact is that the politicians have failed the nation time and again, squandered national wealth and mismanaged the economy.
It is high time that Pakistanis politicians stop talking of democracy and start concentrating on nation building. Those who preach democracy forget that the basic requirement of a viable democracy is the awareness among the voters. This does not happen in a vacuum. This can only be achieved by massive educational campaigns and tackling poverty. Otherwise you will always have millions of people electing those, who can buy them, misguide them and even force them. My personal choice would be anyone, who has vision and the strength to build the future, in uniform or in Awami dress.


Bashy Quraishy, Czech Republic - 18 August, 2005

Last Words

To prevent Pakistan from Army to hold the country,is the only solution.THE HONEST NON CRUPT POLITIONS.

itumkhaish, Pakistan - 18 August, 2005

Musharraf calls for strict price checks on essential commodities

There is no harm in comparing the two systems which have been there for sometime but while you get the results you would say what a shame on the politicians who took poor people money out of the country bought their estates abroad. They are living in exile and who would want them back? Perhaps Farzana Shah, if she is really honest she would think twice for bringing or recommending the political or so called democracies we had during the tenures of two leader Benazir and Nawaz Sharif. They were both parasites if its the right word to use for them. Their parties are on decline and people are getting educated and young generation of today in Pakistan need jobs, education, hospitals and growth in the country. No the faces of the past who ruined the economy and left the country with a few hundred millions in the treasury. Look at the performance today $12.5b an amount is worth praising the present government though Gen. Musharaf is a military man in uniform but PM is not. Mr. Aziz is bringing the country to its feet and recognised a country around the world with a growth of 8.2 percent over the past few years. Please do compare but let the process go through and the decmocracy needed and right one will be there in due course. They are all working on it and people are better off under the present government. You can write for the sake of writing. If you can dig some information against the present regime do bring it up for discussion. I will be interested to know and comment. Pakistanis should their part of the r esponsiblity as well. Government alone should not be blamed, not at least the present regime.

Mohammad, Trinidad And Tobago - 20 August, 2005

reply to Mr Mohammad

This is in response to Mr Mohammad's comments on this artilce, Mr Mohammad with due apology please dont comment without reading the whole story. if u realy had read the article Ms Farzana Shah had not blamed the present regime instead just like you she also blamed the politicians like Nawz and Bibi and other stinking politicians. Mr Mohammad plz before wasting your precious words do take some pain to read the whole wrtie-up.


Sobia Ahmad, Pakistan - 23 August, 2005

u r right

I agree the writer.

Sikander Hayat, Pakistan - 20 January, 2006

comments on Farzana Shah article

A wonderful article by Miss Farzana Shah.It speaks of writers keen eye on subjects that affect us nationally.The writer's insightfull analysis is a testimony of her indepth understanding and analysis of our beggest and very old internal security problem.She has expressed her thoughts in a canded yet convensing manner.I highly appreciate her affort.

saeed, Pakistan - 11 August, 2006

articles by farzana shah

writing so well about military role in pakistan,analysis is simply great

waseem, Pakistan - 24 November, 2006

RIGHT

i would like to ask you a question have you ever been doing the justice with your duties have you realise your mistakes when you are not doing justice with himself how it might be possible you can gave justice to anyone you all are deserving hell before the time will destroy you try to know to whom you are concerning do not forget there is ALLAH, see equally every one

jahangir, Pakistan - 30 December, 2008

great article,,,very thought provoking and true representation of facts,,,nice work

mohsin, Pakistan - 03 March, 2009

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