Follow @southasiaanalys

Pakistan: Ferment Against Army Domination of political processes begins sprouting.

Paper No. 5957                                  Dated 22-Jun-2015

By Dr Subhash Kapila

The Pakistan Army as a paragon of virtue was a carefully nurtured myth and the first signs of ferment against Pakistan Army dominating political processes exploded last week with former President Zardari’s diatribe against the military establishment and warning it to stay within its constitutional limits.

Pakistan’s civil society has already demonstrated its street-power thrice in the past. First, with the pro-democracy marches in2007 involving all sections of society including women. Second, the million-men march from Lahore to Islamabad on demanding reinstatement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Chaudhary, which also ultimately brought down the military ruler General Musharraf. The low point was in the follow-up on the US raid on Abbottabad Garrison to liquidate Osama bin Laden. Such was the public criticism of the Pakistan Army and its Generals then that a Special Corps Commanders Conference was summoned to let the Government know that the Pakistan Army was not ready to countenance it, or else?

Former President Zardari’s explosive diatribe against the Pakistan Army military establishment recently must be viewed in this light, notwithstanding the fact that Zardari himself has never been above board both inside and outside office.

Former President Zardari’s statements need to be reproduced verbatim as carried by the Pakistani media and this was what he warned the Pakistan Army:

·      “Stop victimising us or we will tear you down, limb by limb. We do not wish to undermine your establishment. You are already entangled in extremist terrorism, Balochistan insurgency and India threat. So be advised you have been warned.”

·      “Stop character assassination of PPP. If we start then we don’t know how many Generals will be exposed starting from the inception of Pakistan to date”

·      “Stop throwing dirt at us, stop victimising us or we’ll tear you from limb to limb. You have been warned. You have been warned. You have been warned.’

·      Zardari stated that Army Chiefs come and go every three years but the political leadership was here to stay. “We know the country better and we know how to run its affairs.”

·      “The whole country from Karachi to Khyber will come to a standstill and will remain so till I order otherwise.” A very direct warning to the military establishment of mayhem if the Pakistan Army interferes with political processes or crosses its constitutional limits.

Zardari has always been noted for his conciliatory approaches and not given to diatribes like in the present instance. He seems to have been pushed against the wall by the statements and interference of Pakistan Army Corps Commander of V Corps in Karachi and the DG Sindh Rangers launching anti-corruption raids on Sindh provincial Government bodies like the Karachi Building Control Authority. The DG Sindh Rangers Major General Bilal Akhtar from the Pakistan Army was making direct allegations against the Sindh Government of corruption. Surely it is not in the domain of Pakistan Army Generals to indulge in such politicking. There are constitutional avenues to do so.

Pakistan Army Chief seems to have carried his OP-  Zarb e Azm to absurd limits where the Pakistan Army begins to meddle and intrude into political processes rather than focus on its prime task of eradicating terrorism. The Pakistan Army Chief seems to have forgotten that the Sindh Government can de-notify the deployment of Sindh Rangers in Sindh to stop its interference in the political governance of Sindh.

The Nawaz Sharif Government is in a predicament though expectedly he came to the defence of the military establishment even though he and the Pakistan Army Generals have never trusted each other.

Notably, the PPP also raised this issue vociferously in the National Assembly demanding that the Pakistan Army remain within limits defined by the Constitution and not single out Sindh. PPP refused to heed to the advice of other Opposition parties not to raise the matter and also apologise for the remarks against the military establishment. No apologies have surfaced .


Zardari’s explosive criticism of the military establishment should not be viewed as the outburst of an out-of-office political leader. PPP has a committed cadre -based presence all over Pakistan. Serious political unrest could be generated by them. This especially applies to Sindh which is contiguous with the insurgency ridden restive province of Balochistan. Can Pakistan Army afford to have on its hands two contiguous provinces in political turbulence and insurgency, bordering the Arabian Sea.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be now in a serious predicament of choosing between the Pakistan Army and the PPP which has supported him both in the National Assembly on various political challenges he had to face. Also the PPP stood by PM Nawaz Sharif during the trying times when Islamabad had to face Imran Khan’s siege some time back.

PM Nawaz Sharif has displayed lack of political skills in selecting the right type of Pakistan Army Chief.He selected General Musharraf and the result was a military coup against Nawaz Sharif and a death sentence. He selected present Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and the result has been a “Silent Coup” already in operation. And now, the Pakistan Army Chief through his Generals in Karachi precipitating possible widespread political unrest in Sindh with obvious political backlash against the Pakistan Army. This needs to be viewed as the prelude to a regular military coup by General Raheel Sharif.

Should the Sindh Government revoke the deployment of the Sindh Rangers, political circles in Pakistan indicate that the Pakistan Army Chief may pressurise the Federal Government to declare Governor’s Rule in Sindh. That could unleash the same political unrest.

 It needs to be pointed out that many political leaders and journalists in Pakistan who crawl for the Pakistan Army have started to advocate a new line in praise of the Pakistan Army Chief crediting him with the authoring of a new regional line-up in South Asia marginalising India, inducing Russia to militarily embrace Pakistan and scripting the CPEC with China.  Presumably, the next advocacy would be to request General Raheel Sharif to fully take in his hands the governance of Pakistan by military rule?

Concluding, it is stressed that whatever political course emerges in Pakistan, the ferment against Pakistan Army domination of political processes has re-surfaced again and this time around it seems with a vengeance.