Home Contact Us  
   

Pakistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4800, 8 January 2015
 

Democratic Invitation to a Soft Coup

Pakistan: The Military Courts
D Suba Chandran
 

Of all the coups, overt and covert since 1947, the military in Pakistan should be smiling at the invitation by the Parliament to set up military courts. As a phenomenon and institution, the military courts are not new in the democratic history of nations; numerous countries have gone through this process in establishing them for a specific purpose at a particular time in their history.

Will the military courts that are being set up in Pakistan with the passage of 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015 along with Pakistan Army Act (Amendment) Bill 2015 by a two-third majority in the Parliament lead to further erosion of democratic hold over governance? Or, will it only result in addressing the militancy in Pakistan, as it is being projected by the powerless government in power? Is this a right strategy for Pakistan?

Whatever may be the reasons behind the setting up of military courts, there are few larger issues. First, it clearly shows the failure of mainstream governance: not only the democratically elected government, but also the entire judicial process. Why would Pakistan need military courts to deal with terrorism, and not trial by regular courts? The argument is – the situation is not simple and merits serious and focussed intervention.

It is unfortunate, that the judiciary in Pakistan except for a brief period under the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remained under the shadows of other institutions. Even today, political leaders and TV anchors make huge accusations against the honourable judges and the Supreme Court, and get away at the end with simple apologies submitted by their lawyers. Setting up of military courts mean an indirect acceptance of the inability of legal institutions to try terrorism and terrorists. The issue is not limited to the courage of the individuals or officials in the courtroom in ensuring a proper trial, but also include the ability of concerned security officials to make a proper case and present credible evidence following a thorough investigation.

While the military courts may circumvent the above issue, it will pose a larger problem in the long run. Military courts will always result in impinging civilian rights in a given political atmosphere, whether it takes place in US or in India or in Australia. This is bound to happen and has happened in the past. In Pakistan’s case, with so much of ethnic and regional polarization with Balochis, Sindhis, Mohajirs and Pashtuns, such an occurrence is inviting more problem to the nation building process.

Second, the setting up of military courts also means abdication of authority by the democratically elected government to the military. Both the governments – PML and the previous PPP were reluctant to take decisive actions against the militants. Though Nawaz Sharif did make a statement that the civilian government would decide which cases will be pursued by the military courts, this is a foregone conclusion. If the setting up of military courts in itself is a result of pressure from the Establishment, it will be difficult to believe that the elected government will have a choice in choosing which cases need to be pursued.

In retrospect, it appears both the military and democratic governments should have sincerely followed up with two big decisions that Gen Musharraf took in 2001 and 2007 respectively vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Lal Masjid. After those two crucial decisions, successive governments should have continued with fighting the militants both across the Durand Line and within Pakistan.

Unfortunately, there were repeated political deals and selective targeting of militants with a self-imposed delusion that this was not their war and was fallout of American War against Terrorism, which in turn was a residue of American led Cold War against the Russians in Afghanistan.

Finally, the larger question relates to the very objective seeing the military courts as a solution to the problem of terrorism in Pakistan. In fact the civilian government, by passing the relevant Bills in the Parliament has democratically elevated the problem as a solution. Nothing could be more dangerous than fighting terrorism in Pakistan.

How did terrorism become such a phenomenon in Pakistan internally? While there were issues relating to Baloch and Mohajir problem in the previous years, neither of the above had become such an “existential threat” to Pakistan, as the TTP led terrorism has become today. How did TTP become such a big monster? Where did it originate and how did it grow to this mammoth level.

While a section within Pakistan would live in a denial world and accuse the US, Israel and India for all the problems of violence within the country, the reality is far from it. The Establishment in Pakistan used J&K and Afghanistan to serve their narrow purposes during the 1980s and 1990s. The jihadi groups led by the Lashkar, Jaish, and the Harkat, and the sectarian groups led by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba were all part of a larger problem created by the Establishment to serve its own interests both within and outside Pakistan. The Taliban in Afghanistan and the TTP in Pakistan were the fallouts; unfortunately for the Establishment, it has come back to haunt them. The stooges and trump cards today have become a threat.

Military courts will only bring the Establishment into the main environment and a lead actor. While military will have to play a leading role in any governmental strategy in fighting militancy, legal processes should be in civilian hands. Military can only be a fighting arm of a democratic government. Military courts can never be a substitute to democratic governance.

The Sharif government, perhaps under pressure has taken a decision that would haunt the democratic process further in Pakistan. Perhaps, he has found an easy way out, by outsourcing the process, and thereby abdicating the responsibility of the Parliament. Military has to be used as a strategy in fighting terrorism at the ground level, but not as a legal institution to try and convict.

To conclude, the military courts may not provide the right answers to fighting terrorism Pakistan. Problem can never be imposed as solutions! In this context, solutions lie with effective governance and credible democratic process, supported by an efficient judiciary. In fact, the court systems in Pakistan are already crowded with constitutionally established secular courts, the Shariah courts and the socially approved (and at times tolerated) local jirgas. There are enough courts already in Pakistan. What Pakistan needs is justice.

By arrangement with Rising Kashmir

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


 
Related Articles
Shujaat Bukhari,
"India-Pakistan Relations: A New Low," 7 January 2015

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
Will the Genie Want to Go Back?

The Fall of Rajapaksa: Why Democracies Fail Strongmen

From Kashmir to Kabul

A Fractured Mandate: The Big Picture

And Now, They Are Coming For Our Children

Pak-Afghan Reset: Will the Taliban and al Qaeda follow?

Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues

Rise India, avoid regional pitfalls

Foreign Fighters of Pakistan: Why Pashtuns and Punjabis?

Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?

The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping: Strong Leaders, Hard Issues

Pakistan: The Coup that didn’t take

Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis

Processes at the cost of peace?

Cost of Peace

Rise of Democratic Anarchists

Don’t steal the election now

Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the “Eliminate or Extradite” Approach

The Tahirul Qadri Affair

Dhaka as the Gateway to India’s Look East Policy

Modi, Sharif and the Cross-LoC Interactions

Region by Sub-regions

Civil-Military Equations in Pakistan: Que Sera Sera

End of the Road for Taliban?

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.