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Military mindset

Published Oct 05, 2012 09:07pm


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LACONIC it may have been, but the army chief’s recent statement on Balochistan came across as full of meaning and revealed a disturbing mindset. Before flying off to Moscow, Gen Pervez Kayani said the army would support any solution to the Balochistan crisis provided it was “within the constitution”. His statement was elaborated upon by an army official when he denied that the army was blocking any political initiative on Balochistan. The army chief’s remark came in the wake of Baloch nationalist Akhtar Mengal’s appearance in the Supreme Court and the talks he had in Islamabad with some leading politicians culminating in his ‘six points’. Whether or not Mr Mengal’s nostrum for solving Balochistan’s problems is in the interest of the province or the country is for the representatives of the people to decide; unelected institutions need not be officious. On the other hand, Gen Kayani’s could have been an off-the-cuff remark. But given the number of times the military has suspended or tampered with the constitution in the past, it is not surprising that not everyone took his words at face value. We hope that the generals have learnt their lesson and stay well within the limits of the constitution.

While space doesn’t permit a fuller review of the army’s forays into politics and how it made and unmade constitutions, an example or two can be noted. Ziaul Haq at least was not being a hypocrite when he proclaimed that the constitution was nothing but a piece of paper he could tear up. What he considered to be his right as a general had already been demonstrated by two army chiefs. A fourth was to follow in 1999. Coinciding with Gen Kayani’s remark, a defence ministry official denied before the SC the existence of a political cell in the ISI, a denial that flies in the face of Pakistan’s history. As irony would have it, the refutation came during the hearing of the Asghar Khan case in which a former ISI chief has himself placed before the court documents corroborating his assertion that the intelligence agency distributed money among its favourite politicians to create a multiparty alliance and manipulate the 1990 elections. Way back, another ex-ISI chief had also admitted to such tactics.

Army interventions have done enormous harm to Pakistan, militated against the evolution of democratic institutions, eroded the concept of civilian supremacy and corrupted the judiciary. Each time the army quit, the country was left in a greater mess and twice without a constitution (1969 and 1971). Today, the task before all Pakistanis is to consolidate the democratic process.

Comments (19) Closed

Shaikh Mohommad Oct 06, 2012 11:05am
This is an excellent comment by the Editor of DAWN. It is living to its brilliant past. Every time a general election is to be held, the Army stages a coupe. This time the people of Pakistan will not allow the Army to run amok. Enough is enough. The people and the judicial authorities will make sure that an adventure by the Army will be nipped in the bud.
Imran Oct 06, 2012 11:05am
Mr. Babar, do you know the army charge the civilian governments for the services it renders during calamities. Civilian institutions are left incapacitated, just to justify military's adventureism. Military, being an institution, is fed with taxpayers money. Excellent editorial. Thumbs up to Dawn..........
Iftikhar Husain Oct 06, 2012 11:38am
The editorial has put the facts correctly very well discussed points.
Abdullah Oct 06, 2012 01:36pm
Pakistanis and the region particularly Afghanistan will continue to suffer from the state within the state is not leashed. Tell me what war has the Army won for Pakistan besides spending all the needed money that could have been used for the education and well being of Pakistan. Wake up people
Naseem Akhtar Oct 06, 2012 08:20am
Does not Kayani's statement violate his oath at the time of his commissioning in which he said that he will not take part in politics?
Geekay Oct 06, 2012 08:28pm
The oath in the army should begin if it already does not that they will be loyal to republic of Pakistan and that only means the constitution of Pakistan. Of course, it will be better if it is explicitly mentioned in the oath but otherwise too implicitly it means the army will be loyal to constitution as that is what runs the country.
manna Oct 07, 2012 03:47am
talking about balochistan solution,,,,,,,, is the recommeded solution is for the benefit of sardars or for general public,,,,,please dont forget that the solution recommended by these sardars is for their own benefit they were are and willl be seeking evertything for their own hygmonies,,,,,,, and will never be raising their voice for people,,,,,,,, moreover is balochistan belongs to Bugtis, mengal and marris only,,,,,,, what about Jamali,s pashtuns, hazaras,,,, and many more tribes,,,, please dont apease them only have equal rights for all and have some mercy on people,,,, the war lords tortures troden peoples,,,how many schools, hospitals and civic facilities these sardars while being in the helm of affairs for so long have created for their own tribesmen,,,,,, none,,,,,, while sitting far away from the ground realities it is quite easy to criticise anyone but being here in baluchistan things are quite different then they appear. moreover why they are crying they have their baluch govt baloch governer baluch chief minister and whole provincial as cabnit and if stil thing are not working then who is to be blamed, i have visited quite a few areas of province i have not witnessed any operation going on ,,,,, i dont know what operation thse sardars are talking about, i think that is just to project themselves as ,,MAZLOOMS,, and gains undue saypathies,ALLAH save us from the treachery of these sardars,,,,, who are befooling the whole country since ages,,,,
wali Lasi Oct 06, 2012 07:42am
Mere words or pledges of the authorities would not be of value, if real and concrete steps are not taken with regards to the superamacy of the constitution......
Afzal Mahmood Oct 06, 2012 08:56am
very true
R K Jain Oct 06, 2012 06:53am
Gen Kayani's statement on Balochistan confirmed that the army in Pakistan dictates to the elected civilian government how to run the country."Do this or else........", is the army's guiding philosophy. It is sad.
Condemned Oct 06, 2012 09:23am
You're right we call the army for all the calamities, this rhetorical statement I've heard from almost every army-lover. People referring to army's role in relief activities conveniently forget that it's this institute that takes lion's share from our budget and it never allows any other institute to be established and be able to do its job when required. Let me ask a simple question: to what level is the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) equipped to cope with the natural calamities we experience? Had this authority and other institutions been allowed to flourish, we won't be needing army to carry out relief work. I'd be termed a West-leaning hypocrite if I say that in the West it's the civilian institutes that perform these jobs, not the armies. Stop glorifying the army that works only for its own vested interests and manipulates people's thinking accordingly.
Babar Oct 06, 2012 06:48am
Come out of the army phobia. Every time people criticizes the army and then look towards army at the every difficult time i.e. Floods, Rains, Earthquake, Train accident, Lake blockage, Collapse of building or anything one can name. Back your army and come out of these notions.
KCK Oct 07, 2012 01:52am
Gen Pervez Kayani said the army would support any solution to the Balochistan crisis provided it was
Khalid Palijo Oct 07, 2012 06:33am
This is not Army phobia. It is to remind the Army and its fans the real purpose for which it is in existence, which by no definition includes politics. If the Army is called out in disasters and emergencies that is its duty and not a favour to an elected government. The people pay for the army; their pay, rations, equipment and training, and therefore nobody should behave as if Army is doing a favour to the Government by helping in disasters and emergencies.
Fais Oct 06, 2012 10:13pm
In any other democratic country, the general would have been fired before reaching Moscow, but this is Pakistan....
BIMAL CHANDRA JHA Oct 06, 2012 03:12pm
Sir, A good editorial.In fact, democracy is the best part of governance in any part of the world. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been a victim nation of militarism. People's supremacy in the matter of not forming the government only, but also taking political decision is a basic criterion in democratic process. Army's role must be limited to the defence of the nation and helping of the civil government in case of natural disaster. Any country including Pakistan can alleviate poverty if it is accountable to the people of the country. Yours faithfully; BIMAL CHANDRA JHA Samanpura Road, Patna, India
Syed Salman Haider Oct 06, 2012 05:37pm
I totally agree with you Babar
syed munawar Oct 06, 2012 03:41am
The statement of Army Chief is in line with the media demand_ army should restrict itself to constitutional role. The events of last over four years also prove that Army is not interested in pursuing the previous policy of intervention in political affairs. then why Army is being criticized for nothing. i think it has become a fashion to take on Armed forces for whipping for no rime and reason. Mmunawar ali , Rawalpindi
M. Asghar Oct 06, 2012 09:09am
It is a good sign tha the judiciary is working to establish the rule of law in all the institutions including the defence one.