Rebalancing civil-military powers | By Rizwan Ghani


Rebalancing civil-military powers

SOCIAL media is discussing wargaming of Imran’s 3 or 4 Islamabad options to bring down a legitimate government, get early election and establish political dictatorship with two thirds majority.

It is being said that military will not act against its own people. Going beyond this disinformation or pulse getting information, it is time to reset civil-military powers to bring permanent end to civilian dictators, Jan 6 like attack on democracy and dragging military into politics.

The answer lies in restoring trichotomy of power. One page policy has failed. It can be done by giving military more space. It is best alternate to martial law.

They should have their own system from defence secretary down to promotion of chiefs as per the Constitution with senior most taking over.

There should be no political interference in military affairs. Politicians should focus on running the country and take military’s input in foreign policy and other areas.

The attack on military is part of CoD because it gives 100 percent power to the executive. It will not end with Imran.

There can be no democracy without returning powers of judiciary and establishment. Gen Milley had warned US Congress to curtail powers of the President during 2020 presidential elections or regret it forever (29 Sept.2021 the Saloon).

There was no action and the world witnessed Jan 6. In his speech Milley said we owe allegiance to the constitution not any one individual and he defended democracy on the Hill.

Like most democratic PMs, Imran had turned into a dictator. He had no respect for law and accountability.

He was after military after annihilating other democratic institutions. It is a red line to keep the country united.

The children of ruling elite should serve for two years so they respect it after firsthand experience.

Due to politicization, talent is already shy to join bureaucracy and military. It can result in conscription like Russia and America.

It is important to reset civil-military relations. We have seen fallouts of one-page policy.

It blocks judiciary and media from playing their constitutional role of holding the President, PM and his government democratically accountable.

If they stay away, the system fails public and the country. The culture of attacking democracy is now a universal phenomenon.

In the UK, Boris Johnson refused to order inquiry against £30bn Covid Corruption. In US mega corruption cases of Hunter Biden ($11M kickbacks) and Afghan (War) Papers ($2.26Tn, WP) are blocked.

Boris Johnson imposed civil martial law in 2019 after proroguing UK Parliament. The judge said that Johnson could be jailed for contempt of court on Brexit letter after refusing to follow court orders (the Guardian 20 Oct 2019).

In retaliation, he tried to empower ministers to overturn judicial decisions to subdue judiciary and avoid accountability (6 Dec 2021, the Independent UK). Judicial review is people’s right (25 Oct 2021, the Guardian).

Boris Johnson should have been removed from office after he was fined as sitting PM, but he was allowed to resign thus establishing one country two justice systems.

Keir Starmer defies call for changes to first past the post voting system (24 Sept 2022, the Guardian).

Tories can win election with 35,000 votes as compared to Labour requiring 70,000 to 120,000 and Green party 850,000.

It is just like family seats, RT System, and census politics in Pakistan. The advocates want to adopt Alternative vote which is more democratic and cannot be stolen as all candidates are on one ballot.

It deals with vote splitting. In America it is called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). Democracy is under attack in America also.

Congress has changed 1887 law so that candidates cannot refuse to accept election results. In Moore v Harper case, the Republicans want Supreme Court to revoke stop state courts from reviewing election laws under their states’ constitutions.

If upheld, it will end free and fair elections in the country (29 Sept.2022 the Politico). The Alabama Congressional map court case will force open congressional redistricting in several states.

Republican litigants want Supreme Court to restore political maps drawn by GOP controlled legislatures which had created safe seats and forever rule for one party free of voter choice.

After the civil-military reset, Pakistan should reject terrorism alliances as they are used for strategic objectives.

Like India, Islamabad can demand result-oriented deals. Multinational are shifting to India from China for playing Tibet card. It is supporting Taiwan in exchange for advanced chips manufacturing technology.

Under Indo-Pacific policy, Delhi won $14.5bn defence export contract for Vietnam and $9bn trade with Sri Lanka. Getting three energy pipelines from Iran, ME and Pakistan (TAPI).

Delhi has already started trade in rupee. It is buying cheap gas, oil and defence equipment from Russia with access to Russian markets.

It is engaging with China on border disputes, securing its water rights and continuing mutually beneficial bilateral trade which crossed $67bn in first six months of 2022 (13 July 2022 Business Standard).

Islamabad should have similar set of policies to protect its interests. This is only possible if political governments respect national institutions, democracy and democratic accountability.

—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.


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