Emerging Civil-military row

Dr. Sudhansu Tripathi
The emerging row between the civilian government and army in Pakistan will not be in the interest of the either.
It certainly looks clear that all is not going well in Pakistan between its civilian government and all time powerful army. With the recent coming into open of some of the names of P. M. Nawaz Sharif’s family members into Panama Papers leaks, the long continuing war of attrition between the two prominent centres of power appears resurfacing. And that arousesa fear lest the Pakistani army may again take over the civil Government. As Gen. Rahil Sharif has already removed 13 of his senior military officers including a lieutenant general and also a major general, and five brigadiers on grounds of their proven involvement in corruption, his anti- corruption pitch has become louder in asking the P. M. Nawaz Sharif to come out an above-the-board accountability which has a clear signal for him to resign. Added in the endeavour of the General are Imran Khan’s Pakistan’s TehreekInsaaf (PTI) and Mustafa Kamal’s Sarzameen Party (PSP) which are said to be the Pakistani General Head Quarter’s (GHQ) political creations. The so-cornered P. M. has been left with no option except asking the General’s moral authority to question him.
Since the army in Pakistan has always been instrumentalin deciding not only political leadership but also helping produce forthcoming leaders for the countrysince its creation, it still continues to live with its self-assumed role of nation-building in today’s world of intensifying democracy, globalisation and liberalisation. With Pakistan becoming an Islamic state during the regime of Gen. Zia-ulHaq in early eighties of the past century, the role of hardliner mullahs and religious fundamentalists has increased manifold. As a consequence, the duo- the military and hardliner mullahs- had become the two very powerful pillars of the Pakistani governance always off balancing the popular civilian Government. Hence the country’s democracy could not institutionalise and strengthened as that in India and has always remained in shambles. This time, though the corruption charges against the PM Nawaz Sharif may be categorised as the ostensible reason for the army to step into the popular governance but the actual reason is to maintain its (the army) supremacy in Pakistan as an oligarch particularly when rising tide of democracy, the Arab Spring, has already over swept the Middle East. Obviously, the army is more organised as compared to the civil Government and as it wields guns too, it continues to remain influential and decisive vis.-a-vis. the civil Government.
Another reason for predominance of the army may be assigned to the persisting tense relations between India and Pakistan. In fact, neither the army and the hardliners mullahs nor even all political leaders in Pakistan really want peaceful and friendly relations with India because that provides them with continuous fuel for maintaining the heat against India. As a result, the fear of India is always being harped by them to divert the popular attention over their inefficiency and misrule. Further, the Pakistani army’s repeated failure to win a battle with India had brought the instrument of covert war by them (particularly by Pakistani army’s secret wing Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI)  against India in the form of continuing limited or little war (the guerrilla war) which has taken the form of cross-border terrorism since the past few decades. Unfortunately, this strategy against India could not succeed to their expectations and Pakistan has itself got mired intothe bitter fratricidal and ethnic civil wars of its own creation whichhas now become a cursefor its sustenance as a respected state in the comity of nations. But the cumulative effects of all these machinations have gone in favour of the country’s army to maintain its ascendance in Pakistan’s governance and day to day administration. But despite the ascendance,the army has to remain cautious of the PM Sharif’s well practiced clever moves to divide the top echelons of power so as to keep them weak and ineffective. In this scenario, as the Gen. Rahil Sharif gradually became more and more persistent with his on-going purges for establishing a corruption free society and polity, the PM has to become apprehensive of the General’s move and he (the PM) beganwith reshaping of permanent regional policy with a view to challenge him (the General.)
Thus the two oligarchs are face to face with each other in order to regain theirpredominance in Pakistan. But the upcoming discord between the two will not be in the interest of the either. While General Rahil’s success in capturing civil power in the country may bode bad omens for the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s continuing intrigues and conspiracies to protect individual power will be of no use for restoring transparency and accountability in Pakistan which is very essential for country’s survival as a political democracyand a cohesive and self-sustaining society.
The author is Asso. Prof., Political Science,  M. D. P. G. College, Pratapgarh (UP).


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