• Saturday, December 14, 2019

Is the Army out of the driving seat?

Discussion in 'Seniors Cafe' started by VCheng, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. VCheng

    VCheng ELITE MEMBER

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    This provocative article in The Economist caught my eye for its potential for a good discussion.

    Pakistan’s armed forces: Out of the driving seat | The Economist


    Pakistan’s armed forces
    Out of the driving seat
    The prime minister wants to put the army in its place

    Nov 30th 2013 | ISLAMABAD | From the print edition

    It is said that the army chief is the most powerful man in Pakistan. Even so, the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, made a point of keeping the new head waiting for as long as possible. Breaking with the convention that gives the new chief a month or two to prepare, Mr Sharif named a successor just two days before the outgoing chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a former spymaster turned double-term army chief, was due to retire. Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif (no relation to the prime minister) will now control not only a vast army and the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, but a business empire ranging from cornflakes to luxury housing.

    So why the delay? The prime minister is not always decisive, and bear in mind that the last time he picked an army chief, Pervez Musharraf in 1998, his appointee ousted him in a coup a year later. Others, however, suspect an attempt by Mr Sharif to assert civilian authority over an army that needs to be put in its place.

    The army sees itself as both embodiment and guarantor of the nation. Yet it has long been at the root of Pakistan’s deepest problems. By meddling in elections and mounting coups, it has weakened the political classes, whose consequent ineptitude and corruption gives it cause to meddle again. It has a history of disastrous military adventures. And it has made common cause with militant Islamists who it hoped would further its interests abroad—keeping India on edge to the south and sowing confusion in Afghanistan to the north in hopes of preventing anti-Pakistan forces growing there.

    The country is now paying a terrible price for its sponsorship of foreign terror. It has spawned dozens of local extremist groups attacking Pakistan itself. Since 2001 nearly 50,000 Pakistanis have died in terror-related violence.

    For a long time the generals refused to see the Islamists for the threat they are. Officers from the army’s spy wing, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), were probably involved in funding and planning deadly attacks in Mumbai in 2008 carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba. General Kayani may have been as bad as the rest. While he was rising to the top, the Afghan Taliban regrouped, the Mumbai attacks were planned, and Osama bin Laden settled in a garrison town.

    Yet along the way the soldier-spy grew into the pragmatist committed to getting the army “out of the driving seat” and nurturing Pakistan’s return to democracy. He and Mr Sharif seem to have got on, while the Americans respected him. Crucially, says Asad Munir, a retired ISI brigadier, he began to understand the nature of the existential threat posed by militant Islam. Military force is required to take it on, particularly in North Waziristan, a tribal area which an alphabet soup of al-Qaeda affiliates have made their base.

    General Sharif’s appointment was a surprise. But the good news is that he shares General Kayani’s thinking on domestic militancy. In charge of army training, he was closely involved in efforts to retool an army trained for set-piece battles with India for counter-insurgency in the country’s wild tribal west. Like General Kayani, he knows first-hand the futility of peace accords that militant groups soon renege on.

    The problem is that the prime minister has yet to produce a national counter-terrorism strategy and says peace talks must be tried first. It is a cause with minimal chance of success, but one hotly promoted by much of the political establishment. Many more innocent lives may have to be lost before the politicians find the nerve for a military solution.

    Elsewhere irritation with civilian government is already flowering among junior officers. But there is no mood to take over. Mr Musharraf’s eight years in power were a disaster (unlamented, he now awaits trial). The army’s once-unchallenged authority has leeched away to a set of rambunctious broadcast media, an activist supreme court and civilian politicians who this year successfully transferred power from one elected government to another—a first for Pakistan. Good governance is the best way for civilian rulers to keep the army off their backs.

    Still, the army can always play a spoiling game, especially when it comes to relations with India. It makes no secret of despising Mr Sharif’s enthusiasm for a rapid normalisation of relations, and opposes a crucial free-trade deal. And even as Mr Sharif dreams of visa-less travel across the Indo-Pakistani border, after years of relative calm the ceasefire line in contested Kashmir has become hot again. The officers probably deserve some of the blame for that.

    From the print edition: Asia
     
  2. OrionHunter

    OrionHunter ELITE MEMBER

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    The raison d'être of Pakistan's Army is the so called 'India threat'. It needs to keep the pot boiling and this it will continue to do, otherwise its pre-eminance in Pakistan society would wane.

    As regards why the LoC had become active the last few months was due to the grand strategy of Nawaz to up the ante in Kashmir and make it look like a dangerous flash point so that he could bring the Kashmir issue to the forefront while the UN General Assembly was in session where he gave the usual K- speech (Which no one seemed to bother!)

    Obama too gave him short shrift and refused to interfere in the dispute saying it was a purely bi-lateral issue.

    In other words, his plan of 'internationalizing' the K issue by ceasefire violations across the LoC and IB during his visit to the U.S. came a cropper and he returned with a lot of egg on his face!

    And just yesterday, he hinted at a fourth war with India if the Kashmir dispute is not solved (On Pakistan's terms, naturally!) Remember what he said to Musharraf on 17 May 1999 after a Pakistan Army briefing on Kargil? "Tho General sahib, Kashmir kab dila rahe ho?"

    Any guesses when the PA will deliver Kashmir to Mian Nawaz Sharif? :rolleyes1:




    .
     
  3. Capt.Popeye

    Capt.Popeye ELITE MEMBER

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    HeHeHeHe;
    The PA may be out of the "Driving Seat"; but is still very well ensconced in the Car.
    Never ever under-estimate the powers of a "Back-Seat Driver" ! :-)

    More Dangerous than the Driver, sometimes..........
     
  4. fatman17

    fatman17 PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    "Breaking with the convention that gives the new chief a month or two to prepare, Mr Sharif named a successor just two days before the outgoing chief," this had more to do with vassillation or his 'inability' to decide.

    "The country is now paying a terrible price for its sponsorship of foreign terror". here yes the army mainly but also the govt's in power are to be blamed for this strategy which started with the 'proxy' war in Kashmir to slowly 'bleed' the indian army, looking the other way as militant groups armed themselves, some supported by the political parties, esp the sunni elements (for their own gains). starting, sponsoring and supporting the taliban movement by the 1st PPP govt. after the exit of the soviets, the in-defensible 'strategic depth' theory of Gen. Aslam Beg, always thinking that these groups can be turned 'on and off' by their handlers misfired badly and spectacularly as we know now.

    "The problem is that the prime minister has yet to produce a national counter-terrorism strategy and says peace talks must be tried first. It is a cause with minimal chance of success" here the political parties are 'blinded' by their muslim faith - how can they support the killing of brother muslims, (however dasterdly and horrible their acts against their own people) - they will be branded 'kafirs'. here atleast the army is clear in its intentions!

    the reality is that the military may not be in the 'drivers' seat but they are still holding the 'keys' to the car!
     
  5. Leader

    Leader ELITE MEMBER

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    military out of the driving seat? huh they have not really learned a lesson & no improvement in their mentality or culture !!

    taking Pakistan for a ride is what they do !
     
  6. Capt.Popeye

    Capt.Popeye ELITE MEMBER

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    @fatman17; ref the underlined part. The Army is certainly clear who and what is the adversary in this regard. And I'd agree that it is even clear in its intentions wrt that adversary. But even the Army is rather unclear in the execution of its intentions to deal with that adversary. Only because of the "religious coloration" given by various entities. While the Army leadership maybe clearer on this score; its the rank and file of the Army (the blokes on the ground who will do the fighting) who are much less clear about dealing with the guys who could be considered to be "brother Muslims".

    Unless it can be driven home to the rank and file: that "inko agar nahin maarogey; toh khud marogey"!
    And hope that gets fully digested; in the prevailing atmosphere of very high religious polarisation.
     
  7. fatman17

    fatman17 PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    rank and file is absolutely clear - this is not a bananna republic army - they are disciplined to know their role. rank and file has never been an issue by and large. they fight and die hard!
     
  8. Capt.Popeye

    Capt.Popeye ELITE MEMBER

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    If that is so, then the Army leadership and the public at large have nothing to be concerned about.
    The Army is a professional army and I did not imply that its a "Banana Republican arm' in any way. Just that the rank and file gets recruited from a certain strata of Society, which incidentally is the very strata that is affected by the tumult that is being caused by the blight of religious obscurantism, the very strata that may follow a certain Politico-Religious Leader(s) when he (they)say that Soldiers fallen in the line of duty cannot be called Martyrs along with that obnoxious connection with Dogs!
    And with an Army that says "Gott mit uns und wir fur Gott" (actually the equivalent in Urdu), which is just exactly what the Miscreant Tormentors of the Army are saying!
    So is it very clear that the common soldier sees that lot as an enemy to be dealt with or as a "Brother Muslim"?
    If he has any misgivings on clearly defining his enemy, then even his response will tend to be nuanced with all the attendant problems.

    The spate of incidents relating to the Security Installations seems to point towards such Dichotomies. And aiding and abetment by internal elements. Just as the tepid response of some soldiers in some ops in FATA where an unit just caved in to attack by insurgents are worrisome for the Leadership of a professional army. To Kiyani's credit, he has clearly identified the nature of this problem and made efforts to attend to it in his tenure. His successor does not seem to be any different; but has this thought-process permeated through the entire Fauj? That is the question.
     
  9. Munir

    Munir PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    If Pakistani army sponsored terrorism then what did other nations do? I think no one has clean hands or can just stay out of the picture. Blaming only one party is something "The economics" should avoid.
     
  10. American Pakistani

    American Pakistani ELITE MEMBER

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    Look at state sponsored naked terrorism in IOK/Maqbooza Kashmir. 7 lac state troops left for terrorizing innocent Kashmiris who just demand for their basic birth right. How does that goes unnoticed.
     
  11. JanjaWeed

    JanjaWeed ELITE MEMBER

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    Not so fast. Still a long way to go before civilian govt in Pakistan can bring army under it's thumb. Culture of an institution can't be altered overnight or within short period of time. It will take generations to change mindset! If you think that you seeing some change in army's behavior, it's nothing but temporary.
     
  12. BATMAN

    BATMAN ELITE MEMBER

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    Uneducated thugs and criminals called politicians have no morality / credibility and respect to talk BS against the institution of army.

    They get upset, when their hand picked general refused to behave like a slave and challenge their illegal acts.

    In past Bhutto, Zardari and Sharif... all failed to build an army which work as there personal servants.

    Case with Musharaf is that Politicians have found an institution to pit against army.

    Now politicians again deserve to get back kicked for what they are cooked.