Whither Na­tional Se­cu­rity?

The civil­ians and the armed forces in Pak­istan have never agreed on the best ra­tio for work­able civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Mahrukh A. Mughal The writer con­trib­utes ar­ti­cles on top­ics of so­cial and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­est and also ap­pears on TV talk shows.

Jin­nah strongly be­lieved in democ­racy. His con­cept of western lib­eral democ­racy was greatly de­bated among the po­lit­i­cal cir­cles of the left and right. He ob­vi­ously did not vi­su­al­ize any role of the armed forces in the coun­try be­yond their pri­mary func­tion of de­fend­ing the na­tional borders. He be­lieved that the armed forces must re­frain from indulging in pol­i­tics.

Un­for­tu­nately, af­ter Jin­nah, the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship that fol­lowed was in­tel­lec­tu­ally shal­low.. Democ­racy in the new-born coun­try be­came a laugh­ing stock and even Pak­istan’s sur­vival was put at stake due to the po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, poor econ­omy and a con­stant threat on the eastern bor­der.

This is when power shifted to the Pak­istan armed forces which came for­ward to sta­bi­lize the coun­try eco­nom­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily. In the first Mar­tial Law led by Field Mar­shal Ayub Khan and in his decade-long rule, there was no­tice­able progress in the in­dus­trial sec­tor and de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture. But Ayub sti­fled all po­lit­i­cal voices and there was un­rest and suf­fo­ca­tion in the coun­try.

When there was a war be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan in 1965, Ayub Khan stood up and inspired the na­tion against In­dian ag­gres­sion. De­spite all its con­tra­dic­tions in the so­cio-po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural spheres, Ayub still pro­vided a solid ground for Pak­istan’s eco­nomic and mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ment. How­ever, po­lit­i­cal forces drove Ayub Khan out of power.

His suc­ces­sor, Gen. Yahya Khan, fol­low­ing the pat­tern of the US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, floated the idea of a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil with the func­tion to ad­vise and as­sist the pres­i­dent and prime min­is­ter on na­tional se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy is­sues. The con­cept has sur­faced from time to time since then. It has even be­come a con­tro­ver­sial is­sue in cer­tain po­lit­i­cal cir­cles which ar­gue that such an in­sti­tu­tion would pro­vide le­gal cover to the mil­i­tary for ex­pand­ing its role and in­flu­ence and would sub­due the pop­u­lar demo­cratic process.

In 1969 Gen Yahya Khan did set up a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil un­der the rec­om­men­da­tions of the armed forces. A com­pre­hen­sive re­port on this im­por­tant mat­ter was pro­posed and sub­mit­ted by the Com­man­der of the Eastern High Com­mand in East Pak­istan, Vice Ad­mi­ral S. M Ah­san in 1968 to over­come chal­lenges in­volv­ing var­i­ous for­eign pol­icy is­sues. This was a con­sul­ta­tive body with Maj.

Gen Ghu­lam Omar be­ing named as its sec­re­tary.

How­ever, the idea was highly op­posed in the public and po­lit­i­cal cir­cles due to its im­pact­ing civil­ian af­fairs. It had a lit­tle sup­port from the right wing which thought the NSC would serve as a bridge to sta­bi­lize civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions. In 1973 when the armed forces made re­peated rec­om­men­da­tions for the ne­ces­sity of the NSC, the pro­posal cre­ated re­sent­ment in the par­lia­ment. Prime min­is­ter Bhutto in­stead cre­ated the DCC - De­fense Com­mit­tee of the Cab­i­net - which pro­vided that the re­spon­si­bil­ity of na­tional de­fense rested with the prime min­is­ter.

Gen Zia kept the DCC ac­tive, even dur­ing mar­tial law un­til the time he be­came pres­i­dent through a ref­er­en­dum in 1985. He in­serted Ar­ti­cle 152-A into the con­sti­tu­tion which, sub­se­quently led to the es­tab­lish­ment of a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. The NSC cre­ated a strong re­ac­tion in civil so­ci­ety. It was dis­solved by prime min­is­ter Be­nazir Bhutto in 1993 and PPP gov­ern­ment again re­ac­ti­vated the De­fense Com­mit­tee of the Cab­i­net. Af­ter Pak­istan’s nu­clear tests by the Sharif gov­ern­ment in 1998, the de­bate for the recre­ation of the NSC started in mil­i­tary cir­cles. Gen. Ja­hangir Kara­mat de­bated the idea of an NSC which could dis­cuss the mil­i­tary point of view on se­cu­rity is­sues. The idea was log­i­cal and could de­velop civil mil­i­tary re­la­tions on more healthy lines. How­ever, this was dur­ing Nawaz Sharif’s sec­ond stint. He re­moved Kara­mat and ap­pointed Gen. Pervez Mushar­raf in his place as army chief. Soon af­ter, the Kargil War came about and a fur­ther boost was given to civil-mil­i­tary ten­sions. In the ab­sence of a com­pre­hen­sive mech­a­nism like NSC, events led to the dis­missal of Nawaz Sharif on Oc­to­ber 12, 1999 when he tried to re­move Gen. Mushar­raf.

Gen. Mushar­raf an­nounced a sixmem­ber Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and then, on Oc­to­ber 3,1999, he for­mally es­tab­lished the NSC un­der an or­der of the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive. In 2004, prime min­is­ter Shaukat Aziz for the first time pre­sented the NSC through an act of par­lia­ment. A civil bu­reau­crat, Tariq Aziz was ap­pointed as the first na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen., Pervez Mushar­raf, who had also be­come pres­i­dent by then. Aziz re­mained in of­fice till the res­ig­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Mushar­raf on Au­gust 18, 2008. Mo­ham­mad Ali Dur­rani was the sec­ond ad­vi­sor of the NSC and he was de­posed by the prime min­is­ter in 2009 on charges of an ir­re­spon­si­ble state­ment with re­gard to the ac­cep­tance of ter­ror­ist Aj­mal Kasab’s Pak­istani na­tion­al­ity.

Af­ter that, the NSC was not op­er­a­tional any­more and the PPP gov­ern­ment re­ac­ti­vated De­fense Com­mit­tee of the Cab­i­net (DCC). Dur­ing the ten­ure of the PPP gov­ern­ment from 2008 to 2013, the Mem­ogate scan­dal once again cre­ated ten­sion be­tween the army and the gov­ern­ment. The pro­posal of the in­te­rior min­is­ter to bring the ISI un­der the con­trol of his min­istry also kicked up con­tro­versy.

De­spite sign­ing the COD (Char­ter of Democ­racy) in May 2006 which called for the dis­so­lu­tion of the NSC, when Nawaz Sharif came into power in 2013, he was aware of the im­pend­ing pres­sure from the armed forces in the event he made a pol­icy blun­der in ei­ther in­ter­nal or ex­ter­nal af­fairs. He may have been re­luc­tant to go against the Tal­iban but the Pak­istan Army was com­pelled to launch an op­er­a­tion in North Waziris­tan. This is when Nawaz Sharif re­stored the NSC and ap­pointed Sar­taj Aziz as the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor. Sharif pro­posed that a di­a­logue with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary would cre­ate a civil-mil­i­tary part­ner­ship to har­mo­nize and bal­ance power shar­ing. The po­lit­i­cal par­ties and civil so­ci­ety also thought that the mil­i­tary should be for­mally in­ducted into the pol­icy-mak­ing struc­ture.

Even in ad­vanced democ­ra­cies such as the United States, France. etc., the armed forces are im­por­tant pres­sure groups. They take sig­nif­i­cant part in pol­icy-mak­ing on se­cu­rity is­sues. The US NSC en­sures co­or­di­na­tion and con­cur­rence among the armed forces and other in­stru­ments of na­tional se­cu­rity such as the CIA, etc. In­dia also has a six mem­ber body on the lines of an NSC which was es­tab­lished in 1998. How­ever, the armed forces have no di­rect rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Iran, Tur­key and Is­rael have dif­fer­ent kinds of se­cu­rity mech­a­nism. In Is­rael, an NSC was es­tab­lished in 1999. Tur­key got its NSC in 1961 when the coun­try was un­der mil­i­tary rule. In Au­gust 2003 there were some sig­nif­i­cant changes in the role of the Turk­ish NSC and in Au­gust 2004, a civil­ian diplo­mat was ap­pointed as sec­re­tary gen­eral of the NSC foe the first time.

The role of the armed forces in the NSC can­not be wholly de­nied or min­i­mized in the Pak­istani con­text, Power shar­ing can be vari­able and its suc­cess in the civil­ian space de­pends on the ca­pa­bil­ity of the po­lit­i­cal forces.

The role of the armed forces in the NSC can­not be wholly de­nied or min­i­mized in the Pak­istani con­text.

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