Civil-Military Rifts Explained

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Tahira Khan
Military rule and imposition of martial law is considered to be the part and parcel of developing countries. Generally, these countries face military dictators under the pretext of weak state institutions, lack of political leadership, democratically motivated political parties, and foreign interventions. As a result, military introduces authoritarian mode of governance and guided democracy.
S.E. Finner has described the stages through which military goes to the highest echelons of governance in developing countries. His prescribed stages are four in number I.e., Influence, blackmailing, displacement and supplantment. During the very first stage, military would be seen as aiding civil governments like that of critical situations created in floods and earthquakes. They’re needed by civil authorities because of their organized and well-trained nature which is absent in the former one, unfortunately. The second step is entirely dependent on the first one. In this stage, military witnesses the weakness of civilians and start blackmailing them on the basis of popular legitimacy they acquire during the provision of services. In the next phase, armed forces start taking participating in policy formulation and replaces one set of rules of governance or give recommendations in this regard. They directly went into the toppling of democratically elected governments and promulgation of martial law, if objection and legal hurdles are put forth on behalf of the politicians. This could be called as the fourth and final stage.
In Pakistan, military rule is comprised of thirty-three years (1958-69, 1969-71, 1977-88, and 1999-2008) whereas martial law constitutes seventeen years (1958-62, 1969-72, 1977-85 and 1999-2001). During this period, constitution is either suspended or abrogated whereas all sort of political developments and socialization processes were put strictly in command of Pakistan army. During the initial years of state-building, elitist authoritarianism was the basic reason behind political instability. State-building was the major focus of political class which overruled the need for nation-building. This, ultimately, led to the dismemberment, first, and then regionalism/ethnic violence in the country, subsequently. National integration could be possible if and only if there exists balance between state-building and nation-building. But, the seeds we have bowed during the early years of creation are still persisting in the prevailing political scenario i.e., power politics and lack of democratic culture which finally give way to the military intervention.
After the Panama verdict, there is speculation that military is having hands in the overall procedure. These assumptions falls in the realm of maybe or maybe not. We encounter such rumors because the major portion of civil society has been part of parochial culture and lacks any credible ability to do predictable analysis of the events. Furthermore, the developments in Thailand (Ouster of elected premier) and Indonesia (President Joko Jokowai speech) have aroused many such suspicions in the country.
Keeping in view of the S.E. Finner stages of military arouse, the current scenario depicts the picture of third stage i.e., displacement where forces either suggest policy recommendations or replaces the previous set of rules in toto and, this could be analyzed from a number of events occurred last month. This includes call for inter-institutional dialogue where military was also invited by Chairman Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani. Besides, role of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in diplomacy, inclusion of military in Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Musharraf’s interview to BBC Urdu in Dubai and his contempt for the civilian governance, hoisting of flag on the eve of 70th Independence Anniversary, three National Security Council (NSC) meetings, ISI directives for CDA, PM-COAS interactions and other foreign developments occurring in Thailand, Turkey and Indonesia.
The influential role of army command in foreign affairs has been existing for a very long time. But, now, we have foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, for these matters. COAS is on visit to Kabul and there exists no official statement from foreign office, regrettably. In addition, the recent blast in shrine also depicts weak civilian authority. The first response should be from Interior Minister, Ahsan Iqbal, but we see this again from the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) platform. Now, Ahsan Iqbal should realize where his fault resides because of which the Rangers incident took place.
Now comes the fourth stage which carries the respective rise of military rule. But, the theory was supposed to be general and every case in social sciences do have some exceptional variables which could be observed by analyzing the existing legal and political culture.
First, we have constitutional support in form of eighteenth amendment whose sole credit goes to PPP and its former chairman, Asif Ali Zardari. Second, there comes article 6, Act of High Treason, and its clause (2) which has now prohibited even the Judiciary to legalize any such undemocratic step under the title of ‘doctrine of necessity.’ Third, the political culture has witnessed socialization in form of Dharna politics and there are few sections of society which can demonstrate participation whereas other half of the society knows the prevailing legal debates- the case of subject culture. Fourth, military’s popular legitimacy is entertaining the lower level and, in this regard, severa Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) are prelude to the initial procedures of ISPR. Furthermore, media campaign has also been initiated to boost the morale of Army in the eyes of general masses.
Keeping in view the occurrence of certain influential events and rise of democratic culture, promulgation of supreme law is not expected at the moment. If it does so, social factors will present deep political hurdles which will not be detrimental to the national cohesion but military as well. The cries like ‘they’ll be back soon enough’ are required to revisit few basics, historical facts and current political system. Sadly, both civil and military authorities have acquired stage of parallel struggle which should be resolved, simultaneously, otherwise other side of the story would be critical.
Author is a team member of Balochistan Voices and a Student of BS (Hons) Political Science in University of the Punjab, Lahore. She hails from Loralai District. Click here to read previous articles written by the author.
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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