Appointment of new Army Chief | By Rizwan Ghani

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Appointment of new Army Chief

IMRAN’S remarks regarding the appointment of the new army chief were defamatory and uncalled for (ISPR).

Other tweets are fire-fighting part of political strategy which will meet its logical end under the law.

Similar strategy was used in America and it failed. We should remember that Pakistan is not the only country with a constitution, judiciary, political leadership, military and (social) media.

There are power-sharing challenges in other countries but they deal with them respectfully and lawfully.

Let us look at America. There were intelligence reports and Trump himself had suggested that he might not accept the results on voter fraud if he is not declared the winner.

Trump put his loyalist in key Pentagon jobs after firing Defence Secretary to settle score with the Administration (10 Nov 2020, Reuters).

Then world saw Jan 6 attack on the Capitol Hill and Jan 6 Hearing exposed the planning and execution of attack including Pentagon.

The case is with Department of Justice. On chain of command, Gen Milley (the top military officer of America) in his 12 Nov 2020 speech told the country that we will defend the constitution and protect the liberty of American people.

We do not take an oath to king or queen, tyrant or dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual.

We do not take an oath to a country, tribe or religion. We take an oath to the Constitution.

Every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, coastguard, each of us will protect and defend that document regardless of personal price.

On civilian control of military, US Defence Secretary Austin and Milley were questioned in Senate Armed Service Committee about episodes recounted in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa book “Peril” as if Milley bypassing Trump was violation of constitutional requirement of civilian control over the military during the final days of Trump Administration.

Whereas, Milley took over the powers of President on nuclear strikes due to Trump’s mental health (Salon 29 Sept.2021)

Milley explained in his testimony that while he is not in chain of command for nuclear strike order but his involvement by presidential directive is in the chain of communication as the President’s primary military advisor.

Nixon’s Defence Secretary James Schlesinger also ordered military commanders to check with him or Secretary of State Kissinger before following President’s order because he was concerned that the President was unstable.

Milley did not go rogue, or pull a Schlesinger as some suggested. Instead in his testimony he made clear that Congress must take steps to reign in the (military powers of) presidency.

In the seven decades of nuclear age, two US Presidents with the authority to unilaterally launch nuclear weapons have been so unstable that people around them felt the need to stop them.

It is obviously too much power to put in the hands of one person and reforms are badly needed.

Milley also received a call from House Speaker Pelosi who contemporaneously made public her demands that he prevent an unhinged president from using nuclear codes.

Reportedly, Milley told her that he agrees with her on everything after she said Trump has been crazy for a long time.

Milley made two calls to his counterpart in October and Jan 6 that US had no plans to attack China and informed concerned before and after the call (15 Sept.2021 Forbes).

In a first full interview to NPR morning edition (11 October 2020), Milley said that we, the US military are sworn to obey the lawful orders of our civilian leadership.

And we want to ensure that there is always civilian leadership, civilian control of the military, and we will obey the lawful orders of civilian control of the military.

On Trump and other WH staff tweets on Afghanistan, he said when we reach the decision they will be made public.

It shows independent position of military and Trump respected it. Pakistan was also saved from Iraq and Yemen like disasters.

On extensions and obeying orders, US Army Chief won Noble Peace Prize in 1953 for Marshall Plan in Europe.

He remained chief for six years with one 3-year extension. Later he served as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence. However, he ordered to atom bomb Japan after go-ahead from Truman.

Milley and Pentagon did not respond to written letter and calls by Republican lawmakers for ignoring president’s statutory chain of command because the reply was given in the Congressional Hearing last year (14 July 2022, Washington Times).

Therefore, Pakistan’s Defence Secretary should come from military. The powers of PM should be cut as part of check and balance. State should end the politicization of the nomination of COAS because Constitution is clear on it.

Seniority should be the yardstick. There can be no compromise on defence forces because they preserve unity of the country.

Political meddling has to end in judiciary, bureaucracy and police. It is time to review 18th Amendment to end dynastic politics, restore genuine democracy in political parties and one window service.

—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.

 

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