What the analysts say ...
Southasia put a set of 5 questions to three eminent analysts about the appointment of the next COAS and CJCSC. Their answers follow.
1. Who in your opinion will be Pakistan’s next Army Chief as well as the next CJCSC?
2. Do they have to be the senior-most generals or can the line be broken?
3. Do you think it will be a difficult task for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to name the next COAS, considering his experience with Pervez Musharraf?
4. What, in your opinion, should be the ideal credentials of the Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army as well as of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee?
5. Should the selection of Army COAS in Pakistan be given the kind of importance that it is getting?
1. It is difficult to predict which of the five top generals will be selected as the Chief. However, if the PM’s statement of respecting seniority this time is taken seriously then it will be one of the two senior-most. Considering his past experience, it is unlikely that the PM will repeat the same mistake again.
2. Promotions in the army are based on seniority-cum-fitness basis, so the line can be broken.
3. Since all the contenders are three-star generals and have passed through a rigorous selection process, competence-wise there is not much difference between them. However, some personality traits can tempt the decision-makers in favor of the more amenable one.
4. He should be professionally acknowledged and personally liked by the rank and file. He should not be deemed to be backed by any personality nor should be beholden to any foreign power for becoming the Chief.
5. Considering the impact that the previous army chiefs have had on the life of the ordinary man, no wonder this appointment is debated everywhere in the country and it should be.
Tasneem Noorani is a politician and a retired bureaucrat who served as Secretary Interior, Commerce, Industries & Production and Finance.
Jamshed Ayaz Khan
1. Getting into a guessing game for appointment of the country’s top military commanders would not be appropriate. I would, therefore, not like to suggest any names for appointment as the next CJCSC or COAS. I would, however, emphasize that a proper procedure be laid down for evaluating the suitability of officers for appointment in these important positions. Deviation from the laid down procedure could lead to disastrous results.
2. Officers considered for these positions do not have to be the senior-most generals. According to the SOP, three names of generals eligible for appointment as COAS or CJCSC, along with their service dossiers, are sent by GHQ to the Prime Minister. The summary prepared for the PM also includes evaluation of their performance. The Prime Minister can either approve one of the names recommended by the GHQ or may ask for additional names if he thinks that he needs a larger list of officers to choose from. The Prime Minister is the final authority in these matters.
3. Whether it would be difficult or easy for the Prime Minister to select the next COAS would depend how confident he is of his own position as the Chief Executive of the country. The PM’s strength and confidence would emanate from his government’s ability to deliver on his party’s promises made to the people during the election campaign. Improvement of governance, law and order, economy and overcoming foreign policy challenges will
go a long way in adding to his self-confidence. We may remember that Nawaz Sharif did not hesitate to remove Gen. Jahangir Karamat as COAS though he made a sincere suggestion about forming a National Security Council. The wisdom of Gen. Karamat’s suggestion has dawned on him after 14 years.
4. Officers considered for appointment against these two important posts and indeed for all senior appointments in the forces should be intelligent, endowed with the ability to analyse a situation and synthesize various ideas before making a decision. They should be upright, articulate and sober and people of impeccable integrity. Above all, they should be loyal to the state of Pakistan and not to any individual.
5. Appointment of top positions in the armed forces is given importance by all countries of the world. Due consideration has to be given for selecting the most suitable officer as the COAS, as the incumbent will be entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the country’s security from external and internal threats. In most countries, concerned state functionaries carry out discussions and arrive at a decision for the appointment of new commanders. The discussion is kept out of the public domain. In our country, the media takes a great deal of interest in matters related to these appointments for mainly two reasons. Our past experience with regard to civil-military relations has generated much interest among the common people and secondly 24/7 news channels need material to fill available air time.
Major General (R) Jamshed Ayaz Khan is a defence and security analyst. He has served as the president of the Institute of Regional Studies.
1. In all fairness it is not appropriate to name the individuals in the run for the posts of CJCSC and COAS. The activity of forecasting names in the media in the past has often harmed the individuals and put wrong pressure on the Prime Minister/President. As far as the post of CJCSC is concerned, the rules have not been followed since its formation in the early 70s. The Joint Staff HQ has seen only one Chairman from the Navy and one from the Air Force. This post is to be rotated between the three services on an agreed formula, which has been violated by the Army every time under a faulty rationale. So is the case of the Head of National Defence University which has now been reserved for the Army only. The Prime Minister should exercise his powers in selecting the CJCSC from the other two services i.e. PN and PAF.
2. In my personal opinion, seniority is of lesser relevance. It is the professional suitability of the service head. Seniority alone should not be the criterion. The line should be broken if a more suitable candidate is in the run. The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, should, however, be the senior-most as this post is merely ceremonial in nature and he does not have operational forces under his command.
3. Whatever happened to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in selecting General Ziaul Haq and Nawaz Sharif in selecting Pervez Musharaf should not deter the PM from selecting the next COAS. He has to rise above this fears and make a fair decision which should be better for the institution. Our political governments have been disregarding the institutions while selecting their heads and have, therefore, harmed them routinely in the past.
4. The post of CJCSC has been only ceremonial in its functions. All major decisions are taken by the individual services themselves and occasionally sent to the JS HQ for ratification. The services have reduced the relevance of JS HQ in its basic role in operational matters in the past - almost 40 years. The main player in this regard has been the Pakistan Army which does not want any agency outside the GHQ to be involved in the managment of its affairs. Other services have also liked this approach and, therefore, adopted it in letter and spirit. The post of COAS, however, needs a different consideration. The Pakistan Army has the responsibility of defending the geographical boundaries of the country in the event of foreign aggression. Therefore, the COAS, in my opinion, should be the one who will engage his forces in the most effective manner against all adversaries. He should be bold, courageous and possess sound judgment and, most importantly, the enemy should acknowledge these traits. This is an essential element that should not be ignored in the selection of the COAS or other service chiefs. The rest of the qualities are secondary in consideration.
5. Over a period, this has gained undue importance and I consider it unfortunate. Much before the time arrives, speculation starts to float in the media. Prolonged military rules are responsible for this situation. A large number of extremely competent officers retire because the COAS’ slot remains occupied by military rulers like General Ziaul Haq (11 years) and General Pervez Musharraf (9 years). The media, in particular, should avoid sensational debates and reporting on this subject and the political governments should take effective control in exercising their constitutional rights.