Back to viable political order

Changezi Sandhu

PAKISTAN is at the crossroads of its social, political and economic destiny. It remains trapped in the quagmire of solvency, increasing youth bulge, political tumult-as-usual, daunting challenge of security, mounting energy shortage, crumbling public faith in state institutions, dominance on oligarchic power elites and many more other knotty issues. But the most important and gravest challenge is the civil-military relation. History of the country is perplexed and unedifying with the question about the nature of the relationship. The country has remained in the throes of change, and it has been clinched by allegations of departmental interference by over-passing the constitutional provisions from both sides. Unfortunately, historical evidence is not much encouraging from which we can pave the way to surmount the challenge of mistrust between the political elite and military establishment.
Direction and nature of the relationship is still unfolding that enables us to respond and analyse these questions tentatively and ambiguously. According to the article –Beyond the crisis state- of the book “Pakistan beyond the crisis state” compiled by Maleeha Lodhi, “The historical record is not encouraging on two related counts. One, establishing a viable political order and a predictable environment to solve the country’ problems; two, evolving a political consensus on priorities and how to address them in a context of stable civil-military relations.” However, it seems that military institution has matured by exerting its all energies and attention to vanquish the internal and external security threats. Tenures of Gen Kiyani, Gen Raheel and Gen Bajwa corroborated and consolidated electoral politics and democratic transformational stance on rational grounds that they played a constructive role to provide open domestic and political ground to political elites for implementation of civil supremacy roadmap and agenda.
They remained in their constitutional limits and consolidated democratic process in the country. Especially, the Kiyani doctrine, according to which nearly 1500 military officials who were appointed in various ministries during the Musharraf era had to return, was an initiative of democratisation. In short, the process of democratisation has been backing up and popingup by military for public welfare and best country interests. But reputation and performance of civilian governments after Musharraf era remains poor and suspicious. Memo-gate scandal, Panama leaks, Dubai leaks, Dawn leaks, mega corruption cases, misuse of public authority for personal interests by politicians, unnecessary allegations over judiciary and army and poor deliverance are the contributions of negligence from civilian leadership. Once again the ability of civilian and military leadership to weather the storms of local, national, regional and international is to be tested after anti-state statement and stance of the ousted prime minister. Especially, internal and external security challenges have clinched the country’ socio-political as well as economic spheres. The situation of law and order in the country is being manipulated on the global level. Domestic fragility and the ongoing campaign of the ousted prime minister and his oligarchic political elite against state institutions not only aggravating the whole situation but also posing real threats to the supremacy of the state institutions and sovereignty of the country.
Governance, economy, and security have become intermingled with each other. If civilian leadership fails to wipe out the issues through good governance, then it will be impossible for the army to bring peace by improving the situation of law and order. Similarly, poverty, hunger, increasing youth bulge and unemployment lead to crimes. Civilian governments would have to bring economic prosperity and political stability to overcome the challenges, but they badly failed and missed a number of opportunities of reforms and deliverance. Failure of civilian and so-called democratic governments aggravated the internal security situation by spoiling the efforts of the military. According to the article “Beyond the crisis state” written by Maleeha, “These issues of security, economy, and governance have intersected in mutually compounding ways, which makes it difficult to establish source and direction of causation. Has the security preoccupation hobbled political development, preempted resources and been the main source of economic problems? Have dysfunctional politics been at the root of Pakistan’s governance deficit and economic misfortunes? What is certain is that there issues have become so intermeshed that the systematic crisis can now only be resolved by tackling them together and not in isolation from one another.”
Consequently, civilian leadership must learn from its deplorable history in which their illegitimate desires and efforts to extend their rule lagged the country behind social, political and economic changes. Corruption, misuse of authority, mercantile ambitions and deviation from state interests have compounded the country’s woes. So, inclusive values as mentioned in the book “Why Nations Fail” must be adopted by politicians. Their extractive wishes and nature must be replaced with inclusive values of good governance, eradication of corruption, self-sacrifice for country interests, power-sharing and respect all state institutions by not compromising over their supremacy of state and state institutions. Civil and military leadership should develop their understanding by restoring the trust in order to make a proper roadmap to stamp out the issues which are major and minor impediments to the development of the country. Last but not least, democracy must be followed following its pure ideology but not to extract political and personal interests under its aegis.
— The writer is, Member Youth Parliament of Pakistan, based in Lahore.

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