Civil-military relations and the Qadri drama

Published: January 16, 2013
Email
The writer is an independent social scientist and author of Military Inc.

The writer is an independent social scientist and author of Military Inc.

Within a day of Tahirul Qadri’s Long March to Islamabad, things have started to fall into place regarding the intention of the imported maulana. With the passage of the day, all non-parliamentary and non-political forces seem to be taking their place in subverting the political system. Supposedly eager to improve the quality of democracy, all of these characters are happy to flout democratic norms to push their way into power. Thus, not surprisingly, we have Qadri announcing the death of the government, the Supreme Court ordering the arrest of the prime minister in a case which has not been completely investigated, Imran Khan asking for premature resignation of the president, and the former dictator prodding the current army chief to move in and take over — all in the same day.

But then we know that the former dictator, Pervez Musharraf, is a passionate fool for suggesting a more direct action when his generals may be doing the same more discreetly. There are many, besides human rights activist Asma Jahangir, who can hear the echo of marching boots behind what has happened since the Long March, including the order of the Supreme Court to arrest the prime minister. This may appear problematic to some who have been arguing about a phenomenal improvement in civil-military relations and the impossibility of a direct military takeover.

However, why would the military take over if it could do the same job through its multiple partners? The ultimate objective is to get things done without hurting the organisation. The GHQ has multiple short-term and long-term goals to desire a change. The short-term, for example, pertains to the desire to control policymaking and the negotiation process prior to the American pullout from Afghanistan in 2014. Even a remote intervention in negotiations will not make the generals happy. They are probably reminded of the Muhammad Khan Junejo government during the mid-1980s that had followed a different line from the GHQ during the negotiation process to facilitate Soviet pullout from Afghanistan.

The longer-term objective that may be of greater consequence is to carry out a socio-political re-engineering and bring about a forced ascendency of what the GHQ and its partners consider as the middle class. Historically, the generals have always found themselves in confrontation with traditional power structures for whom they loosely use the term feudal. The army top brass has advertised its own background being middle class and so wants to empower this socio-economic category into political prominence. This is a cruel joke because the country has already been through four distinct cycles of elite formation, three of which are linked with military rule. Part of this socio-political re-engineering plan is to install new political actors that give the military greater hope for social, political and economic stability, thus, the idea of a longer technocratic government before the next elections are held. This is an idea mentioned by one of the army favourites — Imran Khan and more recently by Tahirul Qadri. Such a plan would certainly affect the PML-N, which probably has a greater chance in the next elections.

But back to those who feel that the army has no role to play as civil-military relations in Pakistan were redefined after Musharraf was sent home packing in 2008 and all generals turned democracy loving. The tendency is to compare Pakistan’s situation and that of its military in politics at the moment with conditions under former President Ziaul Haq — the conclusion being that the military is no longer a political actor. Such analysis does not take into account three facts. First, that the Pakistan Army has been through phases of evolution. The Zia period signifies a time when it looked similar to a number of Latin American or Southeast Asian armed forces engaged in direct rule and indiscriminate use of force. Therefore, there is greater consensus in the civil society regarding the negative image of Zia’s dictatorship.

Second, the non-experts do not realise that there are various types of militaries: (a) professional, (b) ruler, (c) arbiter, and (d) parent-guardian. While the first type does not intervene, the later three types represent different models of interventionist armed forces. The ruler type were mostly found in Africa or Latin America and would remain in direct power at all times and not trust civilians. These were found primarily in weak civil societies. The arbiter type come and go, depending on their assessment of threat. The Pakistani, Turkish and Indonesian militaries belong to this category. The final type pertains to a military that desires to have permanent intervention but may not want to take direct responsibility of the state at all times. Thus, it creates political and social partnerships and creates non-political but mostly legal and constitutional formulas to sustain its power and power base. Such a type can be found especially in developed civil societies that may resist direct intervention.

Third, the Pakistan military has evolved into a parent-guardian type which keeps the option to either jump in directly, depending on the mood, or bring about change from the top through its partners. Interestingly, it has been struggling gently for a permanent role in politics through legal/constitutional changes starting from the days of Ziaul Haq, when the idea of a National Security Council (NSC) was brought to the fore for the first time. This NSC structure was formulated under Musharraf but was put on hold after the change in government. This, however, does not mean that Musharraf’s successors do not desire a permanent position in power. Now we have the imported Maulana Qadri talking about the military and the judiciary sitting in the caretaker set-up. Furthermore, the army’s partnerships provide it a more pervasive control of both the state and society. It is now well represented in politics, different levels of the economy and, increasingly, the intellectual segment through the media, academia, religious right (including militants), liberal-left and the NGO sector. Besides many other advantages, the diverse partnerships help the army hide its oppression and coercion, which normally is tucked away in distant corners of the territory and gets justified in the name of national security. Thus, it always remains relevant as a saviour.

Maulana Tahirul Qadri has set the scene to facilitate direct or indirect intervention.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2013.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (44)

  • whats in the name
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:07PM

    For me this guy is a drama, cacophony, he is whipping up the emotions of the innocents, I am getting a feeling that he is a status quo politician. He is promising change but will end up being in cahoots with the army. Yes we should cross the bridge only when it comes. So better to wait and watch.
    Rgds
    P

    Recommend

  • whats in the name
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:25PM

    Or is he the puppet, whose strings the army holds and who is being brought onto the theater stage by the Military complex to create more confusion and anarchy. I guess even a seasoned psephologist would have a tough time doing the pre-poll and exit poll survey. To my Pakistani friends, I am an outsider but definitely not a troll. I know both fish and uninvited guests would stink after some time. But how about this explanation. Some times things appear better and clear when seen from afar not from close. Case in point, Images from Satellites, when compared to from a building roof top or an aeroplane or even an air balloon appear better and clear.
    Rgds
    P

    Recommend

  • What
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:34PM

    Whole article based around a baseless notion that army is behind Qadri, sigh.

    Recommend

  • whats in the name
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:34PM

    Or how about this wild goose chase conspiracy theory, could Mr Qadri be an agent of the PPP, is Mr Zardari trying to pull off a rabbit from the hat. By introducing some one in the oppositon which is already fragmented, he is further churning the electoral rolls to favor the PPP in the coming elections.The votes would only get divided into different opposition blocks and ultimately benefit the ruling establishment.
    Rgds
    P

    Recommend

  • Abid
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:36PM

    Ayesha Siddiqa always targets Pak Army. Just grow up and think big.

    Recommend

  • awam
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:42PM

    Whether he is an army back puppet, american puppet, chinese puppet. I dont care!
    Sick of this “Jhamooriat”. Bring anyone but the 2 corrupt parties.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:06AM

    Thanks for a very true history of our army and governance. It is true that so many things just happened in one single day in Pakistan is beyond belief. Add to the events that you described the border tension with India, killing of hundreds of Hazara to create upheaval in Baluchistan and the whole country are not a coincidence. As far as the SC is concerned it has always aided and abetted the army takeover and justified mutilation of constitution. It is not a coincidence that all the remnants of Gen Mush have come out of the woodwork. The army has always ruled with the help of PML-X, Q, F, Mullahs, and urban elite and would do the same with the help of SC.

    Recommend

  • whats in the name
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:07AM

    Also I would want the readers to imagine a scenario. The national level political scene is cluttered with 4 national based opposition parties namely the PML of Nawaz, Imran Khan, Qadri and the Mullah Brigade not to mention the PML Q and also the Musharaff Party, if he has one, Finally umpteen regional and sub regional parties in the local level. Now what would happen to the anti incumbency vote, for me it appears to be divided into at least 3 or 4 blocks. And if an appropriate alliance is not stitched, then voila, this is indeed a possibility. Which means the ruling establishment would be elected back to power. But would the Army play ball or play coy. Certainly, we have not read the last of it. Again a scenario, imagine a situation if and when Musharaf decides to test the political waters. As if the water is not muddied already with the present dispensation, I guess this is where the army must chip in.
    Regards
    P

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Jan 17, 2013 - 2:15AM

    This country doesn’t deserve an army. Yes they have their flaws no doubt but no institution is working perfectly in this country. Yes we have the right to present our views but maligning our own army continously and profusely is unheard of. Regularly on talk shows anchors, politicans, writers etc disparage the armed forces if not openly then in hinted words. Generals are not the only ones that watch your shows or read your columns. It is also the soldier who fights for you people everyday. If they start to believe that the peope of this country are not with them what reason do they have to fight for us. If you make them believe that their senior officers are actually vile and bent upon destroying this country then you and i will rue the day the soldier takes up arms against its own officers. There will be no where for people like you and me to hide. Democracy is a delicate process and yes we should strive to maintain it in the country. Given the history of our armed forces i know it is easy to assume everything is their doing. But they too realize the importance of democracy. Give them time as we all would to democracy. Pakistan is at a crossroads. The time is now to stand shoulder to shoulder. Not concoct conspiracy theories Ayeha Siddiqa. We know you have an aversion for everything army but really even you should be mature enough to write something sensible. Take a leaf out of Najam Sethis book seriously.

    Recommend

  • sabi
    Jan 17, 2013 - 2:18AM

    Ayesha Saddiqa,
    The rising politicle awareness in civil society will one day bring generals and civilions eye ball to eye ball and this will be a bad day for this country.
    Brilliant analysis regards.

    Recommend

  • Jehangir Mari
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:13AM

    So the democrats in hiding, which are quasi feudal or are semi-mercantile, better than the educated and aspiring middle classes of this country? If the so called democrats, in hiding right now, use electoral chicanery to come the assemblies are they worthy of respect by the aspiring middle classes? If the so called democrats cut & trample the constitution with their ugly & unlawful majority in parliament to suit their nefarious entrancement, would we be hailing them as champions & guardians of democracy?

    Recommend

  • Karachiwala
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:50AM

    @What:
    Its good that you understand what this article is all about. For “baseless notion” you need to read history, The two most recommended readings are “Military Inc” by the same author and “Hamood ur Rehman Commission report”. You may refer some very fine work by Major(R) Amin on the decisions made in the name of national interest by the tenants of GHQ. The only lesson we laerned is that “army” has learned nothing from history.

    Recommend

  • Rafiq
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:59AM

    Excellent informative and analytical article. true, Mulla Qadri depicts a complete scripted drama, the script is written by the powerful forces who have made the Pak state an unnatural state in the region and global world. the liberal sections of civil society and major political parties understand this manipualtive Qadri-military drama. Mulla Qadri’s appearance and demands seem baseless and clueless.
    Well done, Ayesha sahiba.

    Recommend

  • Furqan
    Jan 17, 2013 - 4:31AM

    What a senseless piece.. !!

    Recommend

  • Haider
    Jan 17, 2013 - 4:34AM

    Easy way of getting popularity… target Army.. n there u go .. !! plz grow up..

    Recommend

  • Sarah
    Jan 17, 2013 - 4:41AM

    Dear Ma’am, I have always appreciated your thorough and spot-on critical analysis about the dynamics of the Pakistan Military. This piece is yet again a brilliant analysis. Moreover, after the stony silence of the media upon the issue of Bara tribesmen protesting outside KP’s governor house, accusing the military killed their 18 people, I really really request you to please examine and write upon that incident as well, because so far, we have not been given any sound or adequate information about these domestic military atrocities, referred by you as ‘coercion and oppression’. PLEASE do write and inform the country about this issue. It would be a great service.

    Recommend

  • Sadaqat Hussain
    Jan 17, 2013 - 5:35AM

    Seems that Ayesha Siddiqa’s someone could not get selected for Pakistan Army. Since then she is against Boots .. lol .. Wake up Madam, it is Army due to which you are sleeping in cozy environments. Think outside of the box. Don’t only be a criticizer.

    Thanks

    Recommend

  • Usman
    Jan 17, 2013 - 5:39AM

    Article is nothing but a conspiracy theory

    Recommend

  • SK5
    Jan 17, 2013 - 5:57AM

    “the Supreme Court ordering the arrest of the prime minister in a case which has not been completely investigated,”

    I stopped reading the article after this.

    Recommend

  • Jan 17, 2013 - 6:51AM

    @sabi:
    you meant to say bad day for the generals? :)

    Recommend

  • Jan 17, 2013 - 8:41AM

    @SK5:
    “the Supreme Court ordering the arrest of the prime minister in a case which has not been completely investigated,”
    I stopped reading the article after this.

    I wonder detail of the verdict of SC is not published any where. What is the punishment given to all reportedly involved in the rental case because arrest ONLY can not be the verdict . ARRESTING is only a process either to keep him out so that he can not influence the process of law which is going against him or of there is an apprehension that he may escape and will be out of the reach of law (enforcement Agencies). This should have been made clear by the court . I believe that there is every possibility of PM may be guilty but unless proved so through judicial process an order of arrest of a sitting Prime Minister appears as unjust move and smell influence of perception of CJ rather than actual outcome of the process. Many may see it a sign of super activism. ( An indication of him being to remain in political scene voluntarily or involuntarily after superannuation)

    Recommend

  • Enlightened
    Jan 17, 2013 - 9:30AM

    Professional———Arbiter———–Guardian————Care-taker————–Ruler Have a nice time friends and no need to panic as this is nothing new for Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • AIH
    Jan 17, 2013 - 9:30AM

    Excellent analysis! Spot on. Agree 100%.

    Recommend

  • Badshah
    Jan 17, 2013 - 11:26AM

    @Abid:
    For a good reason. Army is the reason of most problems in our country. It’s about time you open your eyes and admit it.

    Recommend

  • ishrat salim
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:09PM

    Not one analysis of Ms Ayesha has turned out to be correct…she has been a Army basher at the same time she was associated with NAB Chairman..is this not hipocrisy…no wonder she supports NAB….the order of court was on March 2012 & till today, court orders not implemented…why ? they delay it & blame court for delay ? one fails to understand…is the PM not morally obligated to step down when stands accused ?..we feel proud to follow western democracy, but do not want to follow their moral values…what an irony.

    One more thing….this may be a little out of context…the politicians have all stood on one platform that they will not allow any UN-constitutional steps to derail democracy….have they themselves for the past 5 years followed any one constitutional step…
    1) according to constitution. free education to all up to primary…followed ?
    2) intra-party election…followed ?
    3) Article clause 62 & 63….are they all honest, men of integrity, Ameen & honest
    4) electoral reforms…done ?
    5) LG election as per constitution….followed ?
    6) do dual nationality…ever followed ? so many are still as MPs & calling as dual national…at least he is not contesting election…
    7) Protection of peoples lives is the responsibility of the govt…followed ?.
    So, Ms Ayesha..what democratic system our democratically peoples representatives are following, other then condemning Dr Qadri ?

    Recommend

  • Raza Khan
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:39PM

    As usual excellent article! Fully agree with the writer.

    Recommend

  • sabi
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:57PM

    @Faisal:
    “you meant to say bad day for the generals? :”

    Theocracy has taken deep root in the country and its intrests directly confront democracy
    ,civill rights and freedom of conscience.With every passing day awarenes about conflict of intrests in civil society is increasing and at some criticle point deadly colision between theocracy and civil society is inevitable.And even if generals completly withdraw from interfering in politics and accept civilion authority the menace of sectaranism has gone so wild that army along with politicians will have to fight a full fledge war on the streets of this land in every city big or small.This is indeed a bad scenario but there is no escape.Nation will have to fight for its lost values.Pakistan has the potential to win that war Inshallah.

    Recommend

  • nauman
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:57PM

    This is article suggests a ridiculous and weak argument! By law the civilians have ‘de jure’ control of the armed forces. So if they really wanted to end this parent-guardian relationship between the military and the civilians, the government and moreover the parliament can fire the top brass in the military for playing games. It might not work, but if you leave a vaccum, especially if one does not use their consitutional powers, then the influence will never end. By not confronting the military directly civilians are leaving a political space for these games to go on and on. This whole argument that the military is always interferring is getting old and childish.

    Recommend

  • Malang
    Jan 17, 2013 - 1:30PM

    well i can simply say a pathetic article without any concrete evidence from a researcher (hmm). I do not support army and neither any unconstitutional act but madam you should provide some concrete evidence instead of mongering over vague arguments.

    Recommend

  • bbball
    Jan 17, 2013 - 2:34PM

    Do you have any proof or is it that your conspiracy theories are even wilder, although you don’t acknowledge them as such. We already know what the author would have said if the tables were turned.

    Recommend

  • faheema
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:52PM

    @ Ali, host of material is available praising high professionalism, commitment and valor of Army officers. Even in text books we are taught and we blindly believe. I can name host of Urdu Digest infested with stories of landmark achievements Army rather its generals made. If it is true scenario then we have good reason to condemn Dr. Ayesha and other army critics. Problem with Dr Ayesha and few other critics is they can see deep, they are not influenced by the text books or Urdu digest always painting rosy picture of role of army. Better all of us gain some maturity and look other way round. We collectively contribute in the heavy budget reserved for army, in return have every right to demand what is needful.

    Recommend

  • nadeem
    Jan 17, 2013 - 4:16PM

    Pakistan will not progress until supremacy of civilians becomes a non-negotiable fact on the ground. We are making slow, uneven progress toward that goal, but civilians need to deliver better governance to achieve the goal.

    Recommend

  • observer
    Jan 17, 2013 - 4:19PM

    Has Tul Q started crying yet?

    Recommend

  • amoghavarsha.ii
    Jan 17, 2013 - 5:13PM

    Dear all PRO ARMY pakistanis,
    I don’t understand why you people all think and support your army so much, as though the very survival of your country is in their hands.
    And still you say God is great in same breadth.

    Why can’t you people think them to be another Government of Pakistan Organisation.

    In India, Indians Respect there Army. Period.
    But Indian Army men are treated as any other Govt. of India Employee in public.
    They get respect because they are ever ready to put there lives in danger for us.
    They are treated as any other Govt. of India Employee in public, because Army men , civilans pay taxes so that they are all paid and looked after too. Period.
    Rest it is there duty too to protect us and our duty to look after them and there requirements.

    But one thing we all are very very well aware and sure of is our country is not surviving only because they are great or because of them. Period.
    We all Indians own and take responsibility for our well fare and our countries well fare.

    We try to find our own peace first.

    When will you people really going to come out of the shadows of your army men !!!!

    Recommend

  • elementary
    Jan 17, 2013 - 5:14PM

    Ours is a Monarchy or at best an Oligarchy. So the choice is between this and Military Diactatorship.Not much of a choice, is it?.
    Some may say in the former case , at least there is a chance of improvement in X number of years if allowed to continue .I would say where is that alley of improvement in the current cul-de-sac.
    Because this is not a true democracy it does not afford opportunities for individual growth so people will remain socially morally ,financially and intellectually dependent on these few. Next polls will yield the same results, this could go on forever.

    Recommend

  • Haris Farooq Wattoo
    Jan 17, 2013 - 5:45PM

    Dr. Ayesha has worked in Military Acconts department as a young CSS officer. There he had serious problems with some superior and later she had to leave the service. Now she takes revenge from Army as a personal vendetta. She has earned a global recognition due to his Army bashing. In this country she cant see anything wrong except the Army.
    Its enough Madam now forget your revenge and use your pen for betterment of this nation.

    Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Jan 17, 2013 - 8:08PM

    You are grossly unfair to Siddiiqa Ayesha & her well-written article. Looks like you are indirectly on the payrolls of your Army!

    Recommend

  • Fahim Akhtar
    Jan 18, 2013 - 12:10AM

    It is thwarted to spot biased approach of lady in this article with her self conceived and pre focused ideas evolved in expression of her views not hidden to any one always against our armed forces. Lady is suggested to come out of illusion and better focus in writing stories, scripting plays for star plus; reflecting conspiracies to attract people and gossips to draw attention instead of castigating an institution wholeheartedly involve in the serving nation and country.

    Recommend

  • Jaffar Usmani
    Jan 18, 2013 - 12:33AM

    @Haris Farooq Wattoo:
    She is. please read the article or her book Military Inc. Ad hominem attacks dont help you, me or the nation. She is the voice of many of us tax payers who say: we are paying nearly 2/3 of our budgets to you. Please defend the country. Dont play Mehmud Ghaznavi games and please dont play killer politics with our own people.

    Recommend

  • Jan 18, 2013 - 6:51AM

    @ishrat salim:
    “1) according to constitution. free education to all up to primary…followed ?
    2) intra-party election…followed ?
    3) Article clause 62 & 63….are they all honest, men of integrity, Ameen & honest
    4) electoral reforms…done ?
    5) LG election as per constitution….followed ?
    6) do dual nationality…ever followed ? so many are still as MPs & calling as dual national…at least he is not contesting election…
    7) Protection of peoples lives is the responsibility of the govt…followed ?.

    “Wherever and wherever the political parties following democracy have failed to achieve the objectives laid down in the constitution they received bitter criticism and abashed by the people .. If Tahirul Qadri carries out activities against constitution . Why should n’t he be bitterly criticized ?

    Recommend

  • Jan 19, 2013 - 6:13AM

    @sabi:
    Thanks for the explanation, now I get what you meant. In any case, I guess the confrontation is bound to happen. It might be delayed but is rather inevitable and imminent.

    Recommend

  • ishrat salim
    Jan 19, 2013 - 3:30PM

    @p r sharma:
    has he carried out anything against the constitution ? name one…please….it will add to my knowledge.. & if it is correct, I shall be glad to say ” Sorry “….

    Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Jan 19, 2013 - 5:18PM

    Hi
    Ayesha Siddiqa always have been my favorite writer. today, this column is really a disappointing one as it is written only on the Pre-Supposed belief or Assumption that Qadri was backed by Pakistan Military. That is a baseless and unquantifiable judgement of one person. its Not Hub-e-ALi (حب علی) its just Bughz-e-Muaviya ( بغض معاویہ) ..Recommend

  • Khwaja Aftab Shah
    Feb 4, 2013 - 2:56AM

    Pakistan has around 144 districts and every district has 4/5 so called political families / local feudal lords. One can check their historical background, doesn’t matter if the present generation is educated or little sophisticated. Since independence these families are in power except short period of ZA Bhutto with little participation of middle class. Majority seats in Parliament are from Rural areas and Urban area politicians have the same feudal attitude. Most of these feudal run parallel government in whole district (in tehsils & villages) controlling police and revenue (thana & Kacheri). Even the justice department is also influenced by them in one way or the other by dictation to lawyers and judges.This elite ruling class is corrupt, cruel, law beaker and criminal in many cases. Nothing will change in Pakistan as long as the Development Funds are being distributed among the elected elite. Politics is the highest profitable business of few hundred people in the country. http://www.multantimes.com

    Recommend

More in Opinion