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Civil-military equation need of the hour

March 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD, March 21: Pakistan’s nascent democracy has made significant strides to establish civilian rule over national defence and security but a lot is yet to be done to maintain a constitutional civil-military equation.

These were the views expressed by security experts, members of the Parliament, analysts and media representatives during a debate on ‘Democratic Oversight of Defence and National Security - An Account of 4 Years,’ organised by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) on Wednesday.

Addressing the forum, Senator Raza Rabbani, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on National Security said the things had started changing but this change triggered by regional situation was cosmetic in nature. He said no additional legislation was required in this regard as constitution limited the army role but it was infringed upon by successive military takeovers.

“When we discuss civil-military imbalance, it is important to change the mindset which suspects civilian’s patriotism and only a uniformed person is granted a certificate of patriotism”, said Mr Rabbani.

On the occasion, Senator Farhatullah Babar said the transition from military to civil rule was sensitive as creating a civil-military balance was a dangerous initiative. He called for carrying out a study to ascertain how power gradually moved from Parliament to military dictators.

He said the incumbent coalition government had taken the initiative of presenting details of the defence budget before the Parliament and it was now the responsibility of the parliamentarians to review it thoroughly and raise points and make suggestions.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said a parliamentary committee, for the first time, had given an institutional response to Pakistan-US relations which would be discussed and approved by the Parliament.

He recommended that the concept of national security must be re-defined to include important civilian components such as constitution, Parliament, political parties, judiciary, education, food, energy, etc.

He said the committee must be institutionalised to define a comprehensive national security strategy after every two years.

Prominent among other speakers included former defence secretary Lt. Gen. (retired) Talat Masood, former minister of state for foreign affairs Emmad Ahmad Khan, MQM MNA Fauzia Ijaz Khan and a senior journalist Hafiz Tahir Khalil.