Some analysts, draw parallels between Pakistan and Turkey’s civil-military relations and point out the similarities, some, even conclude that the histories are very much comparable. However, unlike Turkey, Pakistan follows the Warminster-style democracy, and its constitution does not allow any role of the military in the politics, but, in Pakistan, the military had a direct rule for half of the time after its inception, and remaining time the military influenced the civilian governments using their “assets” inside the political system, the religio-ethnic factions, Judiciary and now, the media. Turkey also has a military influence on the civil governments and military took over the total power, time to time, but under Turkey’s Constitution, when the military command requests the president to step down and cede power to the military, the president must comply. The main reason is that, unlike Pakistan, which came to reality in 1947 after the political movement and popular votes, Turkey’s military played significant role in forming modern Turkey when the Atatürk’s forces were victorious in the War of Independence, when the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), and then the government in Ankara was granted the international recognition as a government of modern Turkey.
In Pakistan, whenever the military grabbed power, the new dictator looked outside for the legitimacy, and all the time he got the endorsements from the Middle Eastern countries right away, which are themselves dictatorships, monarchies, and oligarchies. The military rules were always eventually decriminalized by the West and the United States after they realize that they can manipulate dictator in a better way than someone who comes to power by popular votes. The one-man in one-man rule system would deliver more if he would get some short-term economic rewards to legitimize their rule inside Pakistan. After getting the endorsements and support, the generals created a generation of incompetent and corrupt politicians, by using bribes, intimidations, and tortures, and when after 10 years, they had to suddenly relinquish power because of their “allies” in the world did not require their assistance and when their short-term economic plans began to cripple, these politically “impotent” characters come at the helm of affairs and look at the military to make every possible decision, which makes the military a de facto power.
Steven Coll, in his new book, “Directorate S, The CIA and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, not only debated the mismanagements and mistrust, among the US inter/intra-Intelligence agencies, White House, Pentagon, but he also discussed in detail the role of Pakistan’s intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) alleged role in further aggravating the situation in Afghanistan. The general impression about Pakistan military and the ISI – according to the book — gives the impression that the actual force which runs the government’s policies in Pakistan is the Army and the ISI, not the civilian governments.
The military, which, due to its specific training, tries to resolve the strategic issues using the tactical means, which may deliver some short-term results but becomes disastrous in the long run. In February 1999, after the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee traveled to Lahore, Pakistan by bus, to meet with his counterpart, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In the highly televised presser, both leaders signed the bilateral agreement, known as The Lahore Declaration, where both nations agreed to have a mutual understanding towards the development of nuclear arsenals and to avoid the accidental and unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. The Pakistan military disapproved the declaration. Chairman Joint Chiefs and the Chief General Pervez Musharraf, air Chief ACM P.Q. Mehdi and Naval Chief Admiral Fasih Bokhari boycotted the event. The military described Prime Minister Vajpayee, as the leader of an “enemy-combatant nation.” Consequently, the Army subverted the goodwill by their adventurism in Kargil and removing Nawaz Sharif from power in the coup d’etat on October 12, 1999. However, the irony was, after taking over the country, same General Musharraf, who disapproved the Lahore Declaration became the greatest “statesman” and even crossed Nawaz Sharif’s moves in normalizing relations with “enemy-combatant nation” India. A 2015 US State Department declassified cable showed that in May 2000 the Musharraf government was willing to “low-key” the UN resolutions on Kashmir to improve relations with India. General Pervez Musharraf said in 2003, “Pakistan is ready to drop long-standing demands for the implementation of U.N. resolutions over Kashmir and meet India “halfway” in a bid for peace”. Of course, Pakistan Army would never allow any civilian leadership to give this much to Indians.
A large number of Pakistani intellectuals and opinion makers believe that Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri, small like-minded political figures and the sections of the media were encouraged to destabilize Nawaz Sharif’s government because he wanted to assert his Foreign Policy, independent of the military interventions. To assure the consistency in the policy he kept the ministry of foreign affairs in his hand, which was criticized by some very authentic voices in the media. Nawaz wanted to create India’s stakes in Pakistan’s stability by providing Indian businessmen, business opportunities in Pakistan and providing Indian businessmen passing through Pakistani territory to do business with Afghanistan and Central Asia. He believed – and lots of opinion makers inside and outside Pakistan agreed – that this policy would further strengthen Pakistan position in the region. Unfortunately, his efforts were thwarted by destabilization in the political system, widely believed, engineered by the security establishment. Now India found new routes to do the business with Afghanistan and Central Asia and after the understanding about its market potential for Middle-East, Europe, and Americas, India sees even weaker reasons to worry about peace with Pakistan.
India ’s gradual dominance in diplomacy over in Kashmir on the world stage, dead-lock in Afghanistan-Pakistan and India-Pakistan relations, the impasse in relations with Iran, the problems with the US, China’s growing frustration about Pakistan’s support for some declared terrorist groups, etc. are some examples of the failure of the military-run foreign policies. Even after two consecutive democratic dispensations, the civilian government has no authority over some very important fields of governance, including the foreign diplomacy. Instead of some experienced diplomat, the Army Chief pays visits to defend Pakistan’s position on the international stage, and the de-jure Foreign Minister simply there to cheerlead the “efforts”.
The civilian dispensation must be united and it must assert their authority, and to do that they have to have better governance and continuation in their policies.
This vicious cycle must end.