WHILE recent events along the LoC remain shrouded in confusion and some degree of mystery, it has not stopped Pakistan and India from continuing their verbal sparring. Now Gen Kayani has responded directly to a public broadside delivered by the Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh and at least the war of words shows no sign of abating. Perhaps most relevantly, the events along the LoC do not themselves seem to be snowballing into a wider and larger conflict in the Kashmir region. That central fact must not be lost sight of and both sides need to consider why and how the war of words is continuing in seeming disproportion to events on the ground. Consider the words of Gen Bikram Singh first. Not at all unusual and part of a trend in recent years of India’s military leadership speaking for itself, the problem has more or less been downplayed by the Indian political leadership. But it is very much a problem.

It is not something limited to Jammu and Kashmir, but the disputed region exemplifies the problem of the Indian military increasingly intervening in policy debates. Give any army or paramilitary force such a significant say in controlling an area and it will inevitably find ways to hang on to and expand its power and influence in that area. Here at home the examples of the Rangers in Karachi, the Frontier Corps in Balochistan and the army in Fata are too well known to bear repeating. Next door in Afghanistan, the US military has long fought for its view to dominate, even when the politicians in Washington began to understand there is no military solution to Afghanistan now. On the Indian side, it’s in Jammu and Kashmir where the Indian army has demonstrated the pernicious effects of giving a military force too much space in the political arena. From pressing for the continuation of controversial special laws to directly meddling in local politics to trying to shape the national discourse and policy on the Kashmir dispute in India, the army there has ventured far outside its original sphere.

Of course, what the Indian army appears to have learned later in its existence, the Pakistan Army has practised to devastating effect over the six decades of this country’s existence. Whether there is merit to his words or not, Gen Kayani is not the person who should be responding to political allegations. That is the job of the government here. The civil-military imbalance will never be corrected until the constitutional chain of command is adhered to.

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Comments (5) (Closed)

Oct 13, 2013 08:20am

The last paragraph of this editorial is well drafted. I would like to add that government should feel the importance of the sentiments of six hundred thousand strong military men and should echo the voice to the aggressor in the well crafted diplomatic manner.

Surjit Kohli
Oct 13, 2013 12:20pm

Excellent, well devised leader, indicating a balanced approach to the problem of two neighbours. Politicians on both side of the border should take a cue of timely and friendly advice.

Dr. D. Prithipaul
Oct 13, 2013 08:51pm

The material difference between Kayani and Vikram Singh is that for the almost entire history of Pakistan it has been the army that has determined the politics of the country. Moreover the army has been also a fundamentalist religious force. In India, as in other democratic countries in the West, the army has been and still is under civilian control. This is so despite the outbursts of Vikram Singh. On the contrary Kayani's rejoinder to the latter's remarks does nothing less than represent his role and his traditional, if not even legal, role within the Pakistani socio-political set up. Vikram Singh is not emulating Kayani. Meanwhile it is folly to believe that Nawaz Sharif is the strong man of Pakistani politics. He has his hands tied with more cuffs than one can count. Just look at the fear of simply arresting so many murderers who commit their crimes in the full glare of everybody's knowing.

Oct 13, 2013 09:19pm

Like it or not the Civilian govt doesn't control foreign policy so Kayani is precisely the person who should be expressing his opinion on LOC and other Indian issues.

Mohammad Saleem
Oct 14, 2013 05:06am

It's Pakistan, where the army top brass rules the roosts and mullah-military unholy alliance is the root cause of Pakistan's problem with neighboring countries. This equation has to change if Pakistan wants to have a prosperous and certain future.