National challenges: Role of Pak military
IN the words of an American political scientist Stephen P Cohen, “there are armies which guard their nation’s borders, there are armies which are concerned with protecting their own position in society there are armies which defend a cause or an idea. The Pakistan army does all three roles ’’There can be no denying the fact that there are a few armies in the world whose role is profoundly dynamic as that of Pakistan’s army. The three major roles any army plays are respectively; to defend a country’s geographical borders, defending its national ideals and advancing its strategic goals or objectives. That said, at a time, Pakistan’s army is playing all these role. In the situation of national crises, Pakistan’s military has never disappointed our nation as it takes a front role in addressing internal and external challenges posed to us.
Arguably, the primary objective and constitutional mission of the Pakistan Army is to ensure the national security and national unity of Pakistan by defending it against any form of external aggression or the threat of war. It can also be requisitioned by the Federal Government to respond to internal threats within its borders during events of national and international calamities and emergencies, it conducts humanitarian rescue operations at home and is an active participant in peacekeeping missions mandated by the United Nations (UN)—most notably playing a major role in rescuing trapped American soldiers who had requested for a quick reaction force during Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia.
The security of our borders: One of the prime objectives of Pakistan military is to guard its geographical borders, eastern and western. For decades, the nuclear South Asian countries, India and Pakistan are constantly engaged in a state of perpetual tension. The US-waged war on terror in 2001 pushed Pakistan to profoundly address the challenges of its territorial integrity. Since 2014, with BJP’s coming into power, the challenges of the South Asian conflict management on twin factors, BJP’s Kashmir policy while its doctrinal strategies to disturb the system of balance of power in the region which intrinsically magnified the challenge of a new security paradigm in the region. The Indian security narrative of the Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) has remained a constant challenge to Pakistan’s security. Today, Pakistan is fully capable of countering any external aggression of its enemy. Pakistan’s armed forces are the hallmark of its security bastion.
Upholding the constitutional and ideological norms: In the given situation of the current national crisis, paying fidelity to our constitutional norms remains a glaring commitment of Pakistan army. The Army has been striving to promote a culture of healthy civil- military relations. In the same manner, it is gravely interested in the promotion of democratic culture in Pakistan: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir addressing the passing- out parade of 147th PMA Long Course in Kakul said that loyalty to Pakistan and commitment to the constitutional role is the foremost priority of the defence forces of Pakistan.
Objectively speaking, in no way, Pakistan can afford the chaos of institutional polarization. Democracy must prevail in the state of affairs for democratic and constitutional maturity. Needless to say, the 21st Century ushers in a new heraldry of democratic order in the world propelled by the overdevelopment of digital media and stakeholders in the social world. The leadership either civilian or military are more interested in the wishes of people than the whims and fancies of their respective interests. The internal security challenges: The most confronting challenge before the new COAS General Asim Munir is to profoundly articulate a comprehensive counter terrorism strategy fostering the fundamental of the national security policy indoctrinated in 2021—focusing on the coordination of various state institutions — thereby giving the National Counterterrorism Authority (NCA), a lead policy role, as well as strengthening the CT infrastructure at the federal and provincial levels. Positively, the new army chief seems poised and determined to regulate a comprehensive CT response strategy. That said, the challenges posed to Pakistan security by the non-state actors-cum-separatist Baloch elements in Balochistan have evolved from waging a low-intensity conflict to a mega security threat since the new generation of Baloch separatists is more radical, carries no tribal baggage buys into a more austere version of an ultranationalist Baloch narrative which has no inclination towards dialogue.
Role in civil society: The India-backed western propaganda against Pakistan’s military has become a customary fashion of contemporary international relations- the propaganda mythmakers argue that predominance of the military can be seen as part and parcel of predatory politics and a patronage system that characterises all dominant classes in Pakistan; as a consequence, any dilution of its power could only be pursued through general necessarily long-term, processes aimed at promoting public scrutiny though education and the media and at redressing social and ethnic imbalances. Nonetheless, the role of the national security paradigm seems pivotal in justifying the military’s strength and its influence in society, yet it also points to the need for a national dialogue on the current political crisis. it should not be a disputed fact that the Pakistani nation reserves a special code of reverence to the Pakistan defence forces whose sacrifices are highly exemplary for safeguarding its national and strategic interests,
Role in disaster management: Pakistan army as an institution has been playing various role in the development of the country. The history shows that army has played a very significant role in coping up the emergencies facing the nation. Government often turn to military, when there is a natural or man induced disaster in Pakistan. The Armed forces obviously need to be involved in humanitarian emergencies and disaster management operations.
The Pakistan army plays a vital role in the disaster management in history of Pakistan. Shortly, the monsoon cycle will hit Pakistan, it is expected that upcoming heavy rain-led challenges will be countered by Pakistan’s military who is full equipped with organized management to assist the government in the emergencies in medical services, rescue operation and support activities. Army has well trained personnel with professional skills to provide assistance in the emergency situation facing the country in collaboration with National Disaster Management Authority. Moreover, as an army organization, it has an enormous capacity to serve as an additional instrument for effective delivery of emergency assistance.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.
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