Interview - Sen. Raza Rabbani
Sen. Raza Rabbani, former Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan, talks to SouthAsia in this exclusive interview.
Can the National Security Council play a positive role in guiding the government towards meaningful decision-making, keeping national exigencies in perspective? Please give your views.
It appears that the questioner is aware of the notorious history of the National Security Council (NSC), while using the word “guiding” in the question. The concept of the NSC came into existence under Gen. Yahya Khan in 1969; originally it was part of the office of the President and CMLA.
In 1984 an attempt was made to give a legal cover to the NSC through a proposed Article 152A in the Revival of the Constitutional Order (RCO). The intent in the purpose was to legalize military influence over the civilian government. This move drew criticism from all political parties and, in the face of the same, it was withdrawn to ensure the passage e of the Revival of the Constitutional Order. der. In January 1997, the then President t Farooq Leghari and Prime Minister Maeraj aeraj Khalid created the Council for Defence and Internal Security, a 10-member ember organization similar to the NSC SC in function and form; it was disbanded nded in 2007.
In October 1999, 999, Musharraf, the dictator, revived the NSC enhancing its mandate to cover over a wide range of issues. After two restructurings, Musharraf moved to implant it in the Legal Framework Order (LFO). This move was again vehemently opposed by the PPPP and other ther political parties. He passed the National ational Security Act, 2004 under which h the NSC functions.
The stated objectives in the National Security y Act, 2004 are, “there shall be a National Security Council to serve e as a forum for consultation on matters of national security including ding sovereignty, integrity, defence and security of the state and crisis management……….”. This when placed in juxtaposition with the meaning of crisis in the proposed Article 152A, to mean “……….strategic matters pertaining to the sovereignty, integrity and security of the state; and matters relating to democracy, governance and inter-provincial harmony.” In actual fact, the NSC was intended to be a supra-constitutional body, subservient neither to the Executive nor Parliament. This is against the constitutional arrangement.
How can the NSC help the government in making policies regarding internal security?
The National Security Council (NSC) should be replaced by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) which functions under the Cabinet and is governed by the Rules of Business of the Federal Government. It is imperative that on matters pertaining to defence and national security there is a robust interaction between the civilian government and the military bureaucracy. Policy must emanate from the Executive and Parliament but these needs to be churned and cut into a fine diamond through consultation and dialogue between the stakeholders. It is a myth that the NSC facilitates a dialogue between the civil and the military. I believe that intra- institutional dialogue needs to be multi-dimensional and at various levels such as the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and the Standing Committees of Parliament on Defence. Further, a familiarization of the military bureaucracy with functions and procedures of Parliament is necessary for greater understanding. There should be an intra-face between the National Defence University (NDU) and the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS).
Please provide a wider view of Pakistan’s role in the region and how this would (or would not) impact out national policy.
The regional situation reflects the new realities that have emerged after the formation of a nexus between Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi. This nexus has developed its own momentum and their satellites in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia who wheel influence in the area, have also assumed new proportions, with particular reference to Iran.
The belligerent attitude of New Delhi as it continues violations across the international border and the LOC and its violations of international law and human rights in suppressing the legitimate struggle in occupied Indian Kashmir have failed to invoke international pressure on it.
The development of a strategic relationship with Beijing has and continues to add pressure on Pakistan.
Pakistan needs to follow an independent policy keeping its own national security and economic interests paramount, while following the Bugdoni Principals with its neighbours.