Musharraf’s nine years of misrule have left Pakistan comparable to a ship which finds itself in stormy waters with its engines seized, the rudder broken and the compass out of order. The magnificent two-year-long relentless struggle by the lawyers and the civil society against a well entrenched dictator eventually, became the basis for Musharraf’s departure and the emergence of the present political dispensation which must now steer Pakistan out of the stormy waters.
Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Zia-ul-Haq and Gen Musharraf caused immense harm to the cause of democracy taking roots. But what has to be seen is how these military rulers sustained themselves in power. Yes, they did take power through the sheer military might of the Pakistan Army that they commanded but what was it that actually sustained them in power? The answer is unscrupulous politicians, a docile civil bureaucracy and an indifferent civil society. Each time, after the takeovers had been brought into effect, the Army withdrew to the barracks leaving their commander (COAS) in the company of turncoat politicians, senior civil bureaucrats, dirty rich businessmen and feudal lords to rule the roost. We saw all of this on display during the last nine years.
Pakistanis have to ascertain as to who is to be blamed for the woes that the nation today faces. As far as the Army is concerned it would be wrong to hold the Institution, as a whole, responsible for the ills of the military takeovers of the yesteryears. The Army’s weight was misused by the dictators to take power without the actual consent of the Army. The usurpers capitalised upon the instinct of the Army, which is to obey orders. After the initial seizing of political power vice chiefs of the Army Staffs have always commanded the Army in its day-to-day functions with only some key areas being kept directly under the COAS-cum-presidents who would there onwards rule in the name of the military but with the active support of unscrupulous politicians devoid of principles.
For a country like Pakistan which finds itself in an environment of extreme security hazards it is indeed a strong military and a strong intelligence-gathering potential that can guarantee its national security. This is something that cannot be disputed. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that the political and military hierarchy functions in a manner that is truly one of complete harmony and is complimentary to each other’s potency. While there is a distinctly visible close cooperation between the top civil and military leadership of the country there is also a need for the next tier of political leadership, both in power and those in opposition, not to make naive political statements that adversely target the Army as an Institution. The strength of the Army and its intelligence-gathering potential is of an overriding importance for the politicians to take the country out of the woods towards safety.
In today’s Pakistan it is a fallacy to think that it is the political structure that is keeping things together. Recently, when political leaders apprehended a bleak situation because the militants were just a hundred miles away from Islamabad they were not wrong. It is the Pakistan Army that stood between the militants and Islamabad. What followed is well known. The Army now stands by to ensure that the political consolidation takes place in all those areas where the state had lost its writ.
Let it be said in so many words that the entire credit for restoring the very adverse situation in the north to a great degree is exclusively that of the Pakistan Army. There is very little that the civil authorities in the NWFP, or the law enforcers of the federation, have done to warrant their stealing any limelight from the Pakistan Army.
This is probably one era when the Army leadership has lent unconditional subordination to the political authority and it is, therefore, absolutely essential that the political leadership capitalises upon the situation and moves forward in a manner so that this new phenomenon becomes a permanent feature of the Pakistani power structure. The one aspect that will guarantee this happening is the ensuring of good governance on the part of the politicians in all spheres of national life and if this does not happen the new found civil-military equation will succumb to the gradual escalation of tensions caused by the increasing ill-effects of faulty governance.
For Pakistan’s sake, and for the sake of the political dispensation taking strong roots, all concerned with the governance of present-day Pakistan must ensure that the present balance in the civil-military relations is not disturbed through rash actions and misguided political statements. The existent civil-military equation must be strengthened to give Pakistan immediate stability because anything to the contrary will quicken the slide towards a gigantic catastrophe which is something that may have the dynamics of disrupting everything. The Army has moved in the right direction. The politician must now grasp the opportunity to consolidate the existing civil-military equation.