Home Contact Us  
   

Pakistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4973, 27 January 2016
 
Pakistan: Status of Civilian Control after Musharraf
Mirjan Schulz
Research Intern, IPCS
E-mail: mirjan.schulz@gmail.com
 

In 2008, the then President of Pakistan, Gen Pervez Musharraf, allowed relatively free general elections in the country. Islamabad's first peaceful transfer of power from one civilian government to another took place in 2013. This commentary analyses the state-of-affairs of civilian control over the military in Pakistan, based loosely on the theory of civil-military relations by Croissant et al. (Theorizing civilian control of the military in emerging democracies; ZfVP 2011 No.5).

Military in Civilian Institutions
Contesting elections, participating in parliamentary proceedings, and/or manipulating polls, by the military, would mean the military guards itself.

In 2010, the 18th Amendment to Pakistan's constitution was implemented, which disallowed military personnel from contesting parliamentary elections. Resultantly, active members of Pakistan's armed forces are not entitled to assume ministerial or other high offices such as that of the President.

Nevertheless, clientelism between the military and civilian actors is still a continuing issue, and the  former remains an important player behind the scenes. Until 2008, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) often manipulated the elections in favour of the military. To prevent this situation in the future, the parliament strengthened the mandate of the election commission. Consequently, manipulation did decrease during the 2013 general election; but did not cease.

Influence in Policy Areas
Although external defence is the primary duty area of any military, surveillance and control over the operations must lie with the civilian government; and likewise for internal security operations. Furthermore, the military has to be separated from other security-related actors. The military can, however, advise the civilian government in terms of agenda setting, policy formulation and adoption, in other policy areas relevant to the former. However, the civilian government should have the final say on decisions, including those on military budgets.

In Pakistan, cleavages between the military and the civilian leadership in matters of external defence are fewer, because they often share the same opinion. For instance, since incumbent Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office, the Pakistan Army has relatively practised restraint vis-à-vis impeding efforts towards Indo-Pak rapprochement.

Regardless, many experts assess a continuing strong influence of the armed forces in these matters. Pakistan's National Security Council (NSC) is responsible for issues of national security, and is currently led by the prime minister as well as cabinet ministers. Formed in 1969, the NSC has fluctuated between being active and inactive. The Council was abandoned after Musharraf's tenure too, in 2009, but was revived by Sharif, in 2013. Between 2013-2016, the Council seldom met – and many decisions on external defence were taken between the prime minister and military officers itself.

As regards internal security, although the responsibility of planning operations officially lies with the civilian leadership, the military's influence remains high because civilian authorities are heavily dependent on the latter to execute those plans. This is an outcome of the poor capabilities of the police forces, and the numerous domestic conflicts.

Furthermore, structures of the military and those of other security-related actors, overlap. For instance, military officers comprise half the members of the ISI.

In other policy areas, that the armed forces did not intervene when the parliament amended the constitution in 2010, was a positive signal. However, due to corruption and inefficiency in the civilian institutions, military institutions often deliver better than the former.

According to Christine Fair, previously, "the military had submitted a number, stating the overall funds request which would be approved without scrutiny." However, since 2008, the military budget has been discussed in the parliament. Nevertheless, the military is not entirely dependent on annual domestic budget allocations alone. The Pakistan Army reportedly owns shareholdings and land ownerships estimated at approximately $21 billion, enabling it to establish an initial framework of a parallel state.

Functional Aspects of Military Structures 
Although a military can independently decide on matters of recruitment, training, and operational doctrines, it still must follow guidelines set by the civilian leadership.

Yet, military courts have been set up in Pakistan, the provision for which the military has often abused in order to protect its members from civilian courts.

Furthermore, in the past, members of the Pakistan Army have often been awarded unprecedented extensions to their tenures – highlighting the powerlessness of the civilian government. Since 2008, Pakistan's Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) has been chaired by the prime minister. There exists a 50-50 representation of military personnel and civilian authorities in the NCA membership. During peace time, the prime minister's decision is final in an event of a stalemate on use and movement of nuclear weapons. However, during war time, the military can override him/her.

Overall, the 2008-2016 period witnessed some progress towards limiting the military's formal involvement in civilian institutions, and towards a comparatively empowered election commission. Yet, Pakistan continues to be beleaguered by a severe lack of civilian control; and the civil-military power imbalance, especially in the ISI and the NCA, remains one of the most problematic issues.

These, coupled with the military's unwillingness to relinquish the control and influence it wields on matters of national importance, indicate that chances of a change in status quo are low in the near future.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
2016 EU-India Summit: Platform for Change?

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.