‘Military reluctant to share power’


The politicians, intellectuals and journalists, in a seminar titled ‘Civil-military relationship in a parliamentary democracy’ on Friday, said that the political forces in the country had a long way to go before they could takeover the military’s decades old dominance.
The seminar was organised by the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), where Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Member National Assembly (MNA) Ayaz Amir, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, columnist and writer Ayesha Siddiqa and journalist Imtiaz Alam spoke to an audience, comprising people from military, media and the civil society.
Ayaz Amir maintained that the political leadership had the chance to bring the military under their thumb in every era but they lost it. “The wisdom and intellectual capability required to counter the dominance of military is lacking in our political leadership,” he said.
SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam averred that the group discussion had been initiated to analyse the current situation in the country, but he did not anticipate a military takeover. The speakers said that the time had come to formulate a doctrine about the civil-military relations, in context of the ground realities of Pakistan.
Former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said, “Strong public pressure could help the political parties to gain maturity and strength, as well as to weigh on public leaders to better their performance as representatives of the public.”
He said that the non-party election ordered in 1985 had negated the value of political parties with the result that the members of Baradari and cohorts of different ambitious groups fought elections on different platforms but later banded themselves in a devised and regimented political party. The experiment of non- party elections of 1985 resulted in disjointing the unity of federation, creating a centrist state and regimenting democracy, he added.
Kaira added that the reasons for the over-reach of military in state affairs was also entrenched psychologically because the region was ruled by military under the Britishers also.
Ayaz Amir assigned the reason for the upper hand of military to the adverse circumstances in which Pakistan was created. “Apart from Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and perhaps Liaquat Ali Khan, the public leaders were weak and leaned on other public officials and since 1954 on military leaders,” he said, adding that “Opportunities did come in the way of politicians to correct the imbalance in the political set up. However, such opportunities were missed by Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and even presently by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. They bailed out defence forces in difficult times.”
Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc, said usually the army was reluctant to share power with the civilian government unless it is under some pressure. She quoted the example of the Turkish Army, which acknowledged the superiority of elected politicians because they were faced with the riddle of integration into Europe. She also cited the example of Latin America, where the military acknowledged the writ of civilian government because the United States desired to stabilise the region.