05 Oct 17 Thursday
The recent controversy surrounding Pak Rangers deployment outside the court hearing corruption references against Nawaz Sharif, followed by their withdrawal from Parliament House on 4th Oct, asking for written instructions confirms deep fissures cracking up Pakistan’s army and its civilian government. Pakistan remains a politically underdeveloped country. While there is no denying that the country’s politics, directly or indirectly, is a by-product of the policies the military favored as an institution, in general, civilian institutions are not allowed to grow out of the phase where they have to concur with the military. More precisely, political parties are expected to play the role of assisting the military establishment in managing mundane national bureaucratic affairs while the latter keeps control of major strategic security and economic issues that extend beyond the country’s borders.
At the heart of the problem is Washington’s dissatisfaction with Islamabad’s counterterrorism efforts in the region and accuse Pakistan’s military of providing support to militant groups like the Taliban to destabilize Afghanistan and increase their clout in the war-torn country. Though both (mil-civil) receive billions of dollars in American assistance, the military views the US, and its support for unpopular administration, with deep distrust. This attitude is widespread in Pakistan, where patriotism is equated with support for the military and the US is often seen more as bully.
Secondly, the ploy of ousting of PM Nawaz Sharif which is seen as a “corruption related hoax” is already seen having ripples in the existing mil-civil divide. Sharif is believed to have bought this fate for crossing the military by pursuing conciliatory policies towards India as well as Afghanistan and by reportedly demanding that ISI end its use of militant groups as tools of foreign policy. His statements against the Pak Army have become more pronounced after his disqualification and have rattled others who could be sitting ducks.
Other issues include huge differences in the civil-military point of view over relations with India and Afghanistan. Also, the sharp rise in hostility between Iran and Pakistan with Tehran threatening to attack militant hideouts inside Pakistan could further destabilize Pakistan.
Pak army triggering radicalization along the lines of al-Qaeda’s rhetoric is based on the fact that Lashkar and Pak army recruit from the same pool of educated youth, mainly from Deobandi sect and the districts in Punjab. The army gets the pick of the youth, while the Lashkar chooses from those remaining. Madrassas are not the factories of jihad, what they do engender is a mindset that supports jihad common to both Pak army and terrorists.
When Muhammad Ali Jinnah envisioned the creation of Pakistan as a secular state for Muslims, he had little idea that his dream country would turn into an Islamist republic that enforces religion over its citizens, a hunting ground in which liberal Muslims are killed and is a safe haven for the world’s most wanted terrorist. Sure he must have turned in his grave many a times by now.