LAHORE, Aug 31: The formation of Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) and the inclusion of four armed forces chiefs in it is a halfhearted solution introduced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to please generals as well as to bring nearer both military and civilian leadership to each other.
“Since the subject of the country’s national security has always been dominated by the military leadership, the civilian governments in Pakistan could hardly engage them well in dealing with such important issues. So despite opposing the representation of armed forces in such committees on national security through the Charter of Democracy, Mian Sahib seems to have backtracked from his earlier stance by giving memberships to three chiefs of armed forces and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee in the CCNS,” eminent defence analyst and intellectual Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi said while speaking at a seminar seeking input from experts.
The seminar was organized by the South Asia Free Media Association (Safma) here on Saturday.
Dr Rizvi said since the inclusion of the armed forces chiefs as members of CCNS was a step taken for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the prime minister might face trouble at the time of getting his decision endorsed by the parliament.
“Mian Sahib has two options -- as either he will have to issue an executive order or get his decision endorsed by the parliament,” he added.
Dr Rizvi said since the military-led governments in Pakistan remained keen on constituting national security councils during their tenures, they couldn’t succeed in dealing with such issues effectively.
He said the role of the military leadership had always been limited in such important committees during the tenures of civilian governments, mainly the PPP and the PML-N.
“During civilian governments’ tenures, they (heads of armed forces) were only limited to participate in such committees as representatives and not as formal members. The NSC formed by Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2004 had been abolished by the PPP government in 2008.
And now there is a question mark as to how those people who are not members of the parliament can become members of the CCNS,” he said.
Dr Rizvi also quoted examples of the US and India where the military chiefs were never considered for making decisions on national security.
He said the most vital aspect was the implementation of the important security-related decisions taken by such committees.
Former Ambassador Khalid Mahmood sought a capacity-building of civilian institutions on the national security.
“We don’t have anything concrete except some brief paperwork to deal with such important issues. We need the assistance of experts, scholars, intellectuals, researchers and professors while preparing ourselves to deal with such vital issues,” he added.
Mr Mahmood said the role of CCNS must be operative and declaratory in order to avoid any dual policy that always harmed the efforts in curbing terrorism.
Imtiaz Alam termed the inclusion of the armed forces’ chiefs in the CCNS a compromise between the PML-N government and the military leadership. He said since the experiments of multiple centres of power couldn’t be successful in the country, it would be better to have a single centre of power in order to avoid any confrontation on such issues.
“I think the prime minister should be a centre of power in the CCNS. The civilian and military members should give their valuable inputs on security issues and leave the final decision on the premier in this regard,” he suggested.
He also suggested the use of military’s SSG commandos for counter-terrorism.