By Dr. Khurshid Alam-Our writers leave no stone unturned to confuse the public opinion according to the wishes of their masters. There are many narratives and counter-narratives about the unjust and undemocratic system in the country. A section of the writers believe that it is the mindset and uniform or Jinnah cap is irrelevant. The others argue that imbalance of power sharing mechanism between Civil and Mil which is more tilted in favor of mil and their occupation of all important strategic heights in the state and government structure, is responsible for the ills of the country. Every hypothesis holds some truth but none is incorporating the whole truth.
In a real democratic society, the army has no role at all in the political system. Democracy negates the question of distribution of power with the military establishment as they are not electable or accountable. In my 34 years stay in Britain I saw, Military Personnel’s only once on Heathrow airport, just after 9/11. The question of power distribution is between the center and federating units or different civil departments but the nucleus of power never move from the elected house.
Any house/ institution which is answerable to the people should have the power. Non-Elected are functionaries of the state neither answerable nor should have any sort of authority. In the US presidential system according to the international situation Pentagon and State Department do have competition. In Bush-era Pentagon was next to white house while it was the other way round during Bill Clinton.
In third world countries in general and Muslim countries in Particular; power lies with despots or with hard nook institution and soft pointed institutions have either no say or very little say which is given graciously by hard nook.
In Pakistan, right from its creation, the adult spine has played the major role in the prematurely born state. Except for the first bureaucratic Martial Law which was quickly replaced by Mil and continues till today. It is not only the political power but the share in the economy that Mil resists to surrender or to vacate the strategic heights in political Structure of the State like Egyptian army. Added to share industrial economy and other trade units, our Mil elites were made landlords by F.M. Ayub by allotting the land to the Mil elites along 1000 miles long border with India, advancing a silly reason that the Army will fight for their own land. In other words, we have to bribe our army to defend the country. In addition to political clout, the share in the economy ingrained them in the state political structure.
Zia radicalization of the society and subsequently introduction of the terror as a state organ made the army an integral part of the state structure. Terror is now the fifth pillar of the state and equalizer in the conduct of foreign and defense policies. To extricate the army from the entrenched position needs no less than a statesman to their luck we have none of that caliber. Indian phobia is playing the double role, keeping the country together and strengthening the role of armed forces in the state structure. On occasions, the Indian Congress government did try to lower the threshold of this perception and strengthen fledgling rudimentary democracy in Pakistan but to no advantage. In my view, there is no conceivable chance that army will wind up its political role or huge business. The system will run in this manner for foreseeable future.
If we honestly believe, that it is a mindset at work then we should not confuse our public as it is irrelevant and deserve no pondering. It has been proved time and again that the later perception is correct and logical. The golden rule that no non-accountable should have power should be pursued. The same is applicable to both in Pakistan. No civil is accountable like mil.
Army interest is limited to Defense budget, Foreign policy related to India, the US and Afghanistan. Kashmir is another problem of their interest. As for as bellicosity towards India and Afghanistan is maintained or kept boiling, the peace and the trade are on the ice-slab, they are least bothered. Any threat to their relevance is unacceptable.
No civil has adopted a policy different than the boys as far as accountability is concerned. Elites of both establishments share the same destiny and constituency. Their tussles are never for the federal democracy but for the vested interest. They have the shared interest and objectives. Let us not go through all 69 years of history to avoid the confusion in the masses but take the present civilian establishment. Are they federal, in outlook? They have a strong Punjab centric attitude like the army. Let us don’t beat around the bush but take their track record, start from all mega projects (CPEC) or small developmental schemes and the composition of the cabinet, has non-federal look. Are the electronic cafeterias relay the federal impression? Are they doing all this at the instructions of the army?
In such a lopsided, imbalanced and asymmetrical country; is there any future of small federates? The state is being run as one unit where the mainland has everything and peripheries have none. The tussle between army and civil establishment is that the former has the strategic obsession and the later has kitty obsessions. The constituency factor carries precedence in prioritization to the federation, with both establishments having the same mindset. When traders and terrors have the convergence of interests than to think otherwise is self-cheating. At present, there is hardly any difference in the governance of the 19th century Ranjeet Singh or 21st century Mian. It is natural human instinct to be in love with the motherland.
There are many examples in our short history of crucifying federal democrats on the altar of Punjab supremacy. Dr Khan Sahib, Bhutto’s and Bugtis are few to be mentioned. We should not expect or delude otherwise, because both camps are the product of Aligarh school of thought.
CPEC, re-routing is strategically against the country’s interests but a brazen example of Punjabi chauvinism. In both wars, India came closer to the main rail line, to split the country in two but thanks to the US it didn’t materialize. In 70, when I was conscripted to the army, the Indians ran over the brigade HQ. Gen Azhar was lifted by a chopper and his M.S Major Cheema’s left mandible was blown away and was under our care. The constituency obsession is so strong that the CPEC Eastern Route is still running parallel to the old main line.
Many fault lines are cress crossing the country into pieces but the newest is the security risk and security proof line, it has literally divided the country into two big slices. We are the security risk and traitors, not deserving a chance to prove ourselves otherwise. Let us stop it. It is a MINDSET.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.