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Civil-military relations

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THE PTI-led government faces many challenges. One it does not acknowledge is that of civil-military relations. Yet, in a constitutional democracy, if civil-military relations are not clearly conducted within the framework of civilian supremacy they will, sooner or later, become problematic. Many see the current state of civil-military relations as providing a civilian mask for selective military rule. The political salience of the military in Pakistan is too obvious to be denied. This needs to be addressed if the country is to be governed and transformed into a modern democracy that can overcome the challenges of the 21st century.

However, it is equally undeniable that civilian rule in Pakistan has largely failed to provide effective and acceptable governance. The reasons for this are many and generally known. They include the patriarchal nature of party politics; massive entitlement-based leadership and political corruption; extractive administrative and political institutions; endemic poverty and deprivation; and the ‘majboori’ of the masses who provides captive vote banks for self-serving political leaders and their parties.

Moreover, the necessarily security-oriented nature of the state in its initial years enabled or compelled the military in Pakistan to play a political role beyond its normal remit. Over time, this came to be regarded, especially within the military, as the political norm. As a result, two parallel political narratives evolved; one civilian and the other military. Parallel lines, by definition, never meet! Civil-military relations have, accordingly, become an issue that does not easily allow for productive discussion. Disagreements are often papered over with anodyne ‘consensus’.

The longer-term costs of........

© Dawn