The Army's catharsis should include running in the diametrically opposite direction from where they are right now.
It will take the entire tenure of the new CoAS to re-build army's image and restore a semblance of trust with a certain segment of the society. Some things that would help include:
- Putting restrictions across the army on officers meeting any politician - PTI/PDM better be ready to talk to each other - army should stop playing the brokering role altogether. The more they do it, the more the politicians on both side rely and thus cede space to the army to get involved in politics. So next time any pol comes knocking, whether IK, Sharifs or Zardaris or their cronies, let the knock go unanswered.**
- Changing of the guard in the ISI, move officers around, get fresh faces in, take out the controversial officers. Complete reset and disbandment of any cells that are focused on managing politics/politicians. The new chief would know well about this.**
- Changing out DG ISPR (I do not fault Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar, he was and remains a scholarly gentleman but perhaps he too is ready for a change).
- Reducing coverage of the CoAS' activities on a routine basis via ISPR. The workings of the sitting CoAS should be opaque to the nation. ISPR should highlight the activities of the army, but not so much those of the CoAS.
- Handing over the entire foreign policy portfolio to the government of the day. It makes no sense for the CoAS to manage the foreign policy, rather it makes us look like Burma or one of the other banana republics. The chief should continue to operate in an advisory role to the GoP on FP matters, however let the sitting government manage the direct interactions with foreign dignitaries and countries. We paint a big bulls eye on the army if the army leadership is seen to be directly talking to foreign entities. There is no way for them to push back on foreign demands etc.
- Asking the GoP to set some rules to allow disclosure of assets granted by the GoP to military officers to enable more transparency. This should be the case for all BPS-22 and lower service grades (whether military or civilian).
- Rewards should be curtailed for the senior military leadership. The adage of being "proud of our poverty" should be instilled into the senior ranks and expectations lowered. Only the CoAS can make this happen from within as anyone from outside seen to be doing this would come across as hostile to the military.**
- Making 2023 "Year of the Training" army wide, pull back from anything that is not related to role of the army and immerse the entire command in operational training etc. Get the army focused on its professional chores and put some distance between itself and the corrupting politics. Make this the center-piece of army's activities. This type of training goes on to this day but be seen as doing as such **
- Recognizing that army cannot fix Pakistan nor should it be seen as trying to fix Pakistan. Let the politicians own up to it. Let the people see the politicians failing or delivering in front of the nation.
The biggest issue in this list is #1. Traditionally, as was the case in 1971 and during the tenures of Gens Aslam Beg, Waheed Kakar, and even now with Bajwa, the politicians believe someone else has to bring them to the table. The issue of "conditional" talks means that the politicians are willing to take the country to the brink and know that since the army will not allow Pakistan to fail, they can let things fail enough for the army to intervene and then point fingers at it.
Note: ** in my view should be the priority. Others can be managed over a period of time.
It usually never happens from within — even if you might want it that way. Only extraordinary actions by the “civilians” can even hope to change your system now.
No one gives up power and wealth voluntarily. Lower ranks who are used to watching their higher-ups prosper will never give up their shot.
India would have ended up worse than pakistan today had it not been for Nehru.
“Prime minister Nehru believed that the new India needed to rethink the role of the army, and initiated a policy that would firmly subordinate it to the civilian authority. One of the first things that happened after Independence, for example, was that Teen Murti House, traditionally the grand residence of the army chief, was assigned instead to the prime minister: A small matter by itself, perhaps, but a clear indicator of the way the wind was blowing.
Next came a series of budget cuts (resulting, among other things, in hefty cuts in army officers’ generous Raj-era salaries). And when India’s first army chief, field marshal Cariappa, publicly criticised the government’s economic performance, he was immediately rapped on the knuckles, and told not to meddle in matters that did not concern him.
Over the years a systematic programme was pursued to ring-fence the armed forces, and their influence in Indian society—a programme that was given fresh urgency in 1958 by the military coup in next-door Pakistan (an occurrence that was worryingly praised by field marshal Cariappa, who had recently retired as army chief). A highlight—or, rather, lowlight—of that ring-fencing programme was the appointment of Krishna Menon, a powerful, abrasive, leftist intellectual, as defence minister. It was an attempt to put the armed forces unambiguously in their place. Unfortunately, it also had the unintended side effect of leading to the stinging defeat of 1962, but that is a different story.
By the 1970s, the Indian armed forces had finally been rendered ‘coup-proof’ by a comprehensive system of checks and balances that had been put in place. And that might be considered to be one of the major achievements of the Nehru era: Ensuring the durability of Indian democracy. It’s an achievement that is not sufficiently recognised; an achievement underscored by the fact that all our South Asian neighbours—Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka—have experienced military coups, actual or attempted.
Wilkinson explains how this ‘coup-proofing’ was implemented, through a package of carefully thought-out measures, ranging from diversifying the ethnic composition of the armed forces to setting up rugged command and control structures, re-casting the order of precedence between civil and military authorities, paying close attention to promotions, disallowing army officers from making public statements, creating a counter-balancing paramilitary force, and topping off this entire effort with little touches like ensuring that retired chiefs of staff are usually sent off as ambassadors to faraway countries.”
It’s an achievement that is not sufficiently recognised.