Why Do Most Pakistanis Favor the Military? Is it Fear of Chaos?

Multiple polls conducted over many years in Pakistan have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis have high confidence in the Pakistani military. This is in sharp contrast to significantly lower levels of confidence they have shown in the country's politicians and bureaucrats. These results appear to reflect the Pakistanis' fear of chaos...the chaos which has hurt them more than any other threat since the country's inception in 1947.  Indian Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has described this situation in the following words: "Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage .....the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge". Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos. Chinese, too, fear chaos. "In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos", writes Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book entitled "Has China Won".   

PILDAT Survey 2015

A 2015 poll conducted by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development (PILDAT) found that 75% of respondents trust the country's military, a much higher percentage than any other institution. Only 36% have confidence in Pakistan's political parties.  


Gallup Poll Findings in Pakistan. Source: Gallup International

Here's a 2014 snapshot of how Pakistanis see various other institutions, according to Gallup International

1. Institutions - Less than one-third of Pakistanis have confidence in the national government, local police, and honesty of elections, and the ratings for those institutions have declined over the last six years. Pakistan's military is the one institution that has retained the confidence of an overwhelming majority (roughly 80%) of people in the country. 

2. Corruption - Eighty-one percent of Pakistanis see their government as rife with corruption. This is an increase of 13 percentage points over the last six years. 

3. Leadership - Approximately one in three Pakistanis approve of the leaders in the city or area where they live. Their approval of national leaders is lower - approximately one in five Pakistanis approve of them.

Popularity of the the military among Pakistanis' appears to reflect their fear of chaos. Pakistani military has helped the nation defy the most dire predictions of Pakistan's demise. Political, military, religious, ethnic, sectarian, secular, conservative and liberal forces are constantly pushing and pulling to destabilize it but Pakistan remains resilient with its strong nationalism that has evolved after 1971. 

A recent example is Pakistan Army's efforts to defend the state by its anti-terror operations Zarb e Azb and Radd ul Fasad that dramatically reduced the level of violence and significantly improved security in the country. It resulted in increased confidence of businesses, investors and consumers in the economy.  Another recent example is the military's active role in Pakistan's success against  pandemic caused by the deadly coronavirus

Terror Stats in Pakistan. Source: satp.org


Here's how India's ex cabinet minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has described Pakistani military's role in defending national integrity:  

"Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge." 

Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos as being their biggest enemy. Chinese too fear chaos, as described by former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book "Has China Won":

"In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos. The Chinese have a word for it: luàn. Given these many long periods of suffering from chaos—including one as recent as the century of humiliation from the Opium War of 1842 to the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949—when the Chinese people are given a choice between strong central control and the chaos of political competition, they have a reflexive tendency to choose strong central control". 




Comments

H. Khan said…
Personally I favor Military for two main reasons.Firstly they are highly disciplined and organized which leaves no chance for chaos to creep in.Secondly they are charged with patriotism and the chances of finding traitors in their ranks are very minimal and rare !
Riaz Haq said…
There are good reasons for the army’s popularity in Pakistan
By ATTA RASOOL MALIK


https://asiatimes.com/2018/02/good-reasons-armys-popularity-pakistan/

Pakistan has long been led by poorly-run political parties full of opportunistic and dynastic careerists. When parliamentary democracy and civil bureaucracy are found wanting, the military is often blamed for holding democracy back. Liberals even allege that the fathers of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, over-exaggerated the Indian threat in order to legitimize attempts at centralizing state power. However, Indian aggression in 1971, its sponsorship of insurgent groups in Balochistan and its ill-treatment of Muslim masses in Kashmir and other areas prove that in Pakistan we need to remain vigilant and keep our military strength up.

Pakistan’s army is popular throughout the country because it draws the bulk of its officers and men from the middle class. It has effectively restored law and order in Karachi and Malakand, and in tribal areas. It has deterred terrorists and managed to retain popular support among those with religious inclinations. There was no surprise when the army smoothly evicted the recent sit-in by extremists at Faizabad, after the civilian government failed to relieve the suffering of people in Islamabad for 17 long days.
Riaz Haq said…
Declan Walsh on #Pakistan: #ISI is omnipresent but certainly isn’t omnipotent. I was really struck by how much freedom we had to report pretty much what we wanted to and, with some exceptions, to travel around the country pretty freely as well. #NYTimes


https://scroll.in/article/974695/isi-is-omnipresent-but-certainly-isnt-omnipotent-declan-walsh-on-the-complex-reality-of-pakistan

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When I was there, I found myself torn between other reporters who were either incredibly critical of Pakistan and believe that the [intelligence agency] ISI was at the root of all evil. And that the military was all powerful. And that Pakistan was essentially a kind of malevolent place.

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And, while the ISI and the military have very tight control over certain things, and they are very good at doing certain things, there’s a lot of things that they do not have tight control over. And there’s a lot of things, frankly, that they’re not great at controlling either. And so within that space, there was quite a lot of room for someone like me, and that was part of what really excited me about being there.
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I came to the conclusion that the ISI is an intelligence service that is immensely powerful, of course, and in some respects, is very competent, and even very good at what it does. But in many other respects, it is a part of the Pakistani military and a part of Pakistani bureaucracy like any other and it is afflicted by the same weaknesses, the same bureaucracy, the same bungling, the same corruption.

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If you had to summarise for the reader, what took you to Pakistan? And what eventually drove you to write this book?
Well, you know, I went to Pakistan, really, as a bit of a naïf. I mean, I’m Irish. So unlike British people, I do not have the kind of cultural memory of South Asia, India, Partition – all of that – that I think a lot of my British counterparts had. And I arrived in Pakistan from Kenya, where I’d been living for five years working as a journalist.

I arrived there not knowing a huge amount about the country. It was 2004. Of course, I knew that this was a country that was strategically very important. It was the place where many people presumed al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were based. It had a military ruler.


But beyond that, I didn’t arrive with a whole lot of preconceived notions about the place, or, indeed about its history. And I remember for the first couple of years and there’s a little bit of this in the book, I wasn’t hugely impressed by Islamabad. I arrived in the middle of the summer, it was incredibly hot. I found it to be not very dynamic at all. And in fact, the whole setup at that particular time, was a little bit stagnant.

It was really a midpoint in the Musharraf years. He was very much in control. He was doing a strategic dance with the Americans. The country was relatively calm in comparison to what would follow just a number of years later. And it was a relatively quiet posting for a lot of foreign correspondents. They were much more intrigued by what was happening across the border in Afghanistan.

And so, that was my introduction to Pakistan. After a while, I discovered that this was actually a far more interesting country than I had realised. And I really started to get around. I started to meet people, and I discovered a lot of things that I found absolutely fascinating. And then three years in came the protests against Pervez Musharraf in March of 2007, which kind of came out of nowhere.
Tariq A. said…
Four ex generals of Pakistan Army dead in a single day

Gen Usmani
Gen Naseer Akhtar
Gen Raheem Bux
Gen Naseereul Islam

Coincidence?
Najam said…
Five. if you add AVM Ahmed Ejaz of PAF, there were five deaths in a day.
Riaz Haq said…
It’s ironic to see Maulana Diesel as the head of “Pakistan Democratic Movement”! We all know he’s no democrat!! Nor are PMLN or PPP leaders. Neither party has internal democracy or real internal elections. Both are family enterprises.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2018/06/pakistans-rough-road-to-democracy.html
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #economy recovers as #COVID19 #lockdown eases. Large scale #manufacturing up 5.5% from last year, up 9.4% sequentially. #FDI up 300% in July-Aug 2020. #Remittances up 37% in 3 months. FBR tax revenue exceeded Rs. 1 trillion in Q1 FY 2020. https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/10/05/indicators-show-economy-returns-to-growth-trajectory/

The industrial sector, which was badly affected due to coronavirus, rebounded and witnessed a considerable positive growth as the Large Scale Manufacturing Industries (LSMI) production grew by 5.02 per cent on a year-on-year basis during the first month of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding month of last year, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
On a month-on-month basis, the industrial growth witnessed increase of 9.54 per cent in July 2020 when compared with the indices of June 2020.
The highest increase of 2.25 per cent was witnessed in the indices monitored by the Ministry of Industries, followed by 1.77 per cent increase in indices monitored by the Provincial Board of Statistics and 1 per cent increase in the products monitored by the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC).
On the external front, the country’s exports also witnessed positive growth during the month of September and grew by 6 per cent on a year-on-year basis as compared to the same month of last year. According to official sources, the exports are expected to grow further during the month of October.
During the first two months of the current fiscal year (July-August) the country’s merchandise trade deficit witnessed reduction of 7.48 per cent as compared to the deficit of the corresponding period of last year.
According to official sources, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country also witnessed an increase of 39.9 per cent during the first two months of the current fiscal, recorded at $226.7 million against the direct investment of $162 million during July-August (2019-20), according to latest figures of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
In absolute terms, the FDI into the country increased by $64.7 million during the first two months compared to the last year. On a year-on-year basis, the direct investment increased by 23.5 per cent to $112.3 million during the month of August 2020 as compared to the investments of $90.9 million in the same month of 2019.
The portfolio investment into the country increased by 310.1 per cent to $76.3 million during July-August (2020-21) against the investment of $36.3 million during the corresponding period of last year. During the month of August 2020, the portfolio investment increased 112.6 per cent from $2.4 million in August 2019 to $3.1 million in August 2020.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has also done remarkably well in the 1st quarter of the current fiscal year and collected revenues of Rs1,004 trillion, exceeding the given target of Rs. 970 billion by a margin of 34 billion.
The Income Tax collection for the quarter stood at Rs358 billion while the collection of Sales Tax, Federal Excise Duty and Customs Duty remained at Rs426 billion, Rs56 billion and Rs164 billion respectively.
This is for the first time that FBR managed to cross the figure of 1 trillion in gross as well as net collection in the first quarter of a fiscal year. The gross revenue stood at Rs1052 billion. The surplus collection was despite the issuance of refunds of Rs48 billion and sluggish performance of the economy in the wake of on-going Covid-19 pandemic.
The State Bank of Pakistan has also kept the policy rate unchanged at 7.0 % due to improved business confidence and growth outlook. It had predicted average inflation to fall within the previously announced range of 7 – 9 per cent during the fiscal year 2020-21.
Riaz Haq said…
Tweet by Bilal Gilani of Gallup Pakistan:


On 13th October 1999 a day after military coup against @NawazSharifMNS 75 % of surveyed Pakistanis supported the military takeover

There were hardly any protests despite close to none military presence on the roads

Lessons learnt by politicians against this fragility?

NIL

https://twitter.com/bilalgilani/status/1315381138941042688?s=21
Riaz Haq said…
#IMF: #China is world's biggest #economy. IMF's "2020 World Outlook" shows that China’s #GDP($24.2 trillion) is one-sixth larger than #America’s($20.8 trillion). China has replaced #US as the largest trading partner of nearly every major nation. #COVID19 https://nationalinterest.org/feature/china-now-world%E2%80%99s-largest-economy-we-shouldn%E2%80%99t-be-shocked-170719

Explaining its decision to switch from MER to PPP in its annual assessment of national economies—which is available online in the CIA Factbook—the CIA noted that “GDP at the official exchange rate [MER GDP] substantially understates the actual level of China's output vis-a-vis the rest of the world.” Thus, in its view, PPP “provides the best available starting point for comparisons of economic strength and wellbeing between economies.” The IMF adds further that “market rates are more volatile and using them can produce quite large swings in aggregate measures of growth even when growth rates in individual countries are stable.”


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So what? If this were simply a contest for bragging rights, picking a measuring rod that allows Americans to feel better about ourselves has a certain logic. But in the real world, a nation’s GDP is the substructure of its global power. Over the past generation, as China has created the largest economy in the world, it has displaced the U.S. as the largest trading partner of nearly every major nation (just last year adding Germany to that list). It has become the manufacturing workshop of the world, including for face masks and other protective equipment as we are now seeing in the coronavirus crisis. Thanks to double-digit growth in its defense budget, its military forces have steadily shifted the seesaw of power in potential regional conflicts, in particular over Taiwan. And this year, China will surpass the U.S. in R&D spending, leading the U.S. to a “tipping point in R&D” and future competitiveness.

For the U.S. to meet the China challenge, Americans must wake up to the ugly fact: China has already passed us in the race to be the No. 1 economy in the world. Moreover, in 2020, China will be the only major economy that records positive growth: the only economy that will be bigger at the end of the year than it was when the year began. The consequences for American security are not difficult to predict. Diverging economic growth will embolden an ever more assertive geopolitical player on the world stage.

Graham T. Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the former director of Harvard’s Belfer Center and the author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s
Riaz Haq said…
#India buzzes with fake news of 'civil war' in #Karachi #Pakistan. 'Fighting' in "Gulshan e Bagh area", a place that doesn't exist. #CivilWarInKarachi #FakeNews https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54649302

Fake news has been widely circulating on Indian sites and social media this week, claiming a civil war had broken out in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

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A fake video circulating on Twitter even claimed to show some of the alleged unrest.

In reality, none of it was true.

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But what's notable this time is the number of verified accounts and apparently reputable news outlets that ended up putting out news that was utterly false, to millions of followers and readers.

'Fighting' in a place that doesn't exist
Tempers seemed to be simmering down when Pakistan's army chief ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest on Tuesday of Safdar Awan, the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A day earlier there had been a major rally against the government of Pakistan's current Prime Minister Imran Khan in Karachi, an opposition stronghold which is the capital of Sindh province.

But later on Tuesday night a hitherto unknown account tweeted that a fight between troops and police had broken out, with tanks on the streets of Karachi and at least five casualties.

It's unclear who sent this initial tweet. Despite extensive digging by the BBC, it was not possible to establish who operates the Twitter account named @drapr007.

An hour later, the account tweeted again, this time saying: "#BREAKING: Heavy firefight between Pak Army and Sindh Police is going on in Gulshan e Bagh area of #Karachi..."

Those familiar with Karachi would know there is no area there by that name - but most readers would not.

Nor had there been any fighting, or tanks seen on the streets.

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One user with a verified account, Prashant Patel - whose bio says is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India - went on to put out a series of tweets where he made claims about a "civil war situation" in Karachi, deaths of policemen and soldiers, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordering patriotic songs to be played on the radio, and even the impending arrival of the US Navy in the port of Karachi.

The BBC's Reality Check team looked into some of the accounts and websites - some of them impersonating the Sindh police - which have been spreading false news about the situation in Karachi and found them to have links with India.

Video purporting to show the clashes was shared by an account under the name of International Herald.

The dark and blurry video shows young men walking towards a building with fire visible to one side. They are seen throwing stones and shouting slogans, seemingly against Pakistan's army chief. The BBC was unable to tell if the video had been doctored, or even shot in Pakistan at all.

International Herald was registered under a now-defunct Indian company in 2018. It's had a Twitter account since 2015 which does not follow anyone. Its followers include two leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India.

'Co-ordinated disinformation'
Mainstream Pakistani media outlets were quick to challenge the Indian media claims with fact-checks.

And Twitter users in Pakistan have had a field day ridiculing the reports, using hashtags such as "CivilwarKarachi", "fakenews" and "Indianmedia" trending on Twitter along with humorous posts and memes.

Renowned singer and actor Fakhr-e-Alam tweeted: "Karachi civil war has gotten so bad that my food panda delivery boy had to crawl through mine fields carrying his AK47, RPG & 9mm along with my nihari and Biryani. This thing is getting so serious."

Writer Bina Shah said: "I live in Karachi, where I just did my groceries, visited the bakery, bought some clothes and came home. If there's a civil war out there I couldn't find it."
Riaz Haq said…
Breaking an old taboo, Pakistan begins to reckon with its powerful military


https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-military-criticism/2020/10/21/fb2afbf2-1246-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html

Sharif shocked the country by denouncing the army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the first rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement. In a stunning departure from Pakistani norms, the three-time premier accused Bajwa of backing his removal from office on corruption charges in 2017 and rigging the 2018 elections. It was the first time an establishment politician had ever made such accusations.

“General Qamar Javed Bajwa, you packed up our government and put the nation at the altar of your wishes,” Sharif said in Urdu. “You rejected the people’s choice in the elections and installed an inefficient and incapable group of people,” leading to an economic catastrophe. “General Bajwa, you will have to answer for inflated electricity bills, shortage of medicines and poor people suffering.”

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There are also signs that some alliance members are not comfortable with Sharif’s anti-military diatribe. On Saturday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party and son of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, called the military establishment “part of history” and said it was “regrettable” that Sharif had mentioned any of its generals by name.

“We do not want their morale to go down,” he said of the armed forces. “We want a real and complete democracy, but we do not look to the umpire’s finger, we look to the people’s signal.”

Even Sharif’s outspoken daughter, Maryam, who lives in Pakistan and whose husband was arrested briefly Monday after the rally in Karachi, has stressed that she is not “anti-military.”

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst in Lahore, predicted that while the current confrontation could weaken Khan politically, it might actually increase the military’s influence.

“Traditionally, Pakistan has been a security state whose survival was the foremost concern,” Rizvi said. He noted that even today, “inefficient” civilian rulers continue to rely on the army for emergency and humanitarian interventions.

“The political forces were always weak and divided,” he said. “Now this division is getting wider, which will harm democratic institutions, too.”

Riaz Haq said…
Kishore Mahbubani, author of "Has China Won?":

US media is insular

Major American newspapers and TV channels reinforce each other in US distortions about the world

Last 200 years of western domination is an aberration in terms of the long human history of the world. It is coming to an end.

Many American intellectuals and policymakers don't seen to understand that China does not do this.

https://youtu.be/E_CwYCIqEgg

When it comes to analyzing political systems, American analysts tend to veer toward a black-and-white view of the world: open or closed society, democratic or totalitarian society, liberal or authoritarian. Yet, even as we move away from an aberrant two-hundred-year period of Western domination of world history, we are also moving away from a black-and-white world. Societies in different parts of the world, including in China and Islamic societies, are going to work toward a different balance between liberty and order, between freedom and control, between discord and harmony. The Chinese thinkers were also once convinced that the only way to succeed was for China to replicate Western societies. This is why, at the moment of greatest despair for Chinese society, in the 1920s, many Chinese intellectuals said (like the Japanese reformers in the Meiji Restoration) that the only path ahead for China was to copy the West in all dimensions. The Chinese historian Chow Tse-tsung documents: “Lu [Xun] declared that the Chinese should live for themselves instead of for their ancestors. To learn modern science and Western knowledge was more important than to recite the Confucian classics. […] Rather than worship Confucius and Kuan Kung one should worship Darwin and Ibsen. Rather than sacrifice to the God of Pestilence and the Five Classes of Spirits, one should worship Apollo. […] Lu [Xun] was sincere from his realistic and utilitarian point of view; if the new was more useful than the old, he asked, in effect, why should one bother whether it was Chinese or foreign?”* One hundred years later, China no longer lies prostrate. It has stood up and become self-confident. After all the recent travails in both Europe and America, few in China believe that China’s destiny in the twenty-first century is to mimic the West. Instead, they believe China should follow its own road.


Mahbubani, Kishore. Has China Won? (pp. 164-165). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
The TED website describes Kishore Mahbubani, a career diplomat from Singapore, as someone who “re-envisions global power dynamics through the lens of rising Asian economies.” This description is not just apt for Mahbubani but also for his new book, “Has the West Lost It?” The title may appear controversial to a reader unfamiliar with world politics and history, but is is a treatise for the future. In less than 100 pages, the author carefully puts together reasons for the Western world’s demise and suggests a three-pronged solution for a better world, where the gap between East and West is bridged to a large extent

https://www.fairobserver.com/region/asia_pacific/us-uk-china-india-east-west-dominance-balance-power-news-16251/


In “Has the West Lost It?” Mahbubani dispels myths around Asian countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have achieved tremendous growth in the last 30 years. On the other hand, the Western world has failed to take care of its working class, which has been forced to the fringes. Mahbubani argues that the rise of countries like China and India mean that the West is no longer the most dominant force in world politics, and that it now has to learn to share, even abandon, its position and adapt to a world it can no longer dominate.
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of "Has the West Lost It?" by Kishore Mahbubani

This is also why many Asian countries, including hitherto troubled countries like Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, are progressing slowly and steadily. In each of these four countries, various forms of dictatorship have been replaced by leaders who believe that they are accountable to their populations. Many of their troubles continue, but poverty has diminished significantly, the middle classes are growing and modern education is spreading. There are no perfect democracies in Asia (and, as we have learned after Trump and Brexit, democracies in the West are deficient, too).

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Pakistan is one of the most troubled countries in the world. Virtually no one sees Pakistan as a symbol of hope. Yet, despite being thrust into the frontlines by George W. Bush after 9/11 in 2001 and forced to join the battle against the Taliban, ‘Pakistan experienced a “staggering fall” in poverty from 2002 to 2014, according to the World Bank, halving to 29.5 per cent of the population.’25 In the same period, the middle-class population soared.

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When countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have begun marching steadily towards middle-class status for a significant part of their populations, the world has turned a corner. Indeed, the statistics for the growth of middle classes globally are staggering. From a base of 1.8 billion in 2009, the number will hit 3.2 billion by 2020. By 2030, the number will hit 4.9 billion,27 which means that more than half the world’s population will enjoy middle-class living standards by then.

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No other region can show such a sharp contrast between its dysfunctional past and its functional future, but Southeast Asia is not an exception. South Asia, another strife-ridden area, now probably has only one dysfunctional government, Nepal. As documented earlier, even Pakistan and Bangladesh are progressing slowly and steadily. In the neighbouring Gulf region, the news focuses on the conflict in Yemen. Yet, next door to Yemen, another nation, Oman, has been gradually making progress for decades. Oman’s per capita GDP has increased from US $9,907 in 1980 to US $15,965 in 2015.33

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Take the Islamic world, for example. They feel that the West has become trigger-happy since the end of the Cold War, and they resent it. Even worse, most of the countries recently bombed by the West have been Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This is why many of the 1.5 billion Muslims believe that Muslim lives don’t matter to the West. As indicated earlier, the West needs to pose to itself a delicate and potentially explosive question: is there any correlation between the rise of Western bombing of Islamic societies and the rise of terrorist incidents in the West? It would be foolish to suggest an answer from both extremes: that there is an absolute correlation or zero correlation. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. If so, isn’t it wiser for the West to reduce its entanglements in the Islamic world? Some of these entanglements have been very unwise. During the Cold War, the CIA instigated the creation of Al-Qaeda to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The same organization bit the hand that fed it by attacking the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. Sadly, America didn’t learn the lesson from this mistake. In an effort to remove Assad in Syria, the Obama administration transported ISIS fighters from Afghanistan to Syria to fight Assad.58 To ensure that the ISIS fighters had enough funding, America didn’t bomb the oil exports from ISIS-controlled zones in Syria to Turkey. Through all this, America declared that it was opposed to ISIS. In fact, some American agencies were supporting them, directly or indirectly.59

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Anonymous said…
An army draws its strength from the people it is protecting. It is a bond of absolute trust. Nobody puts their life online for the salaries they are paid. The passion to take to the field of battle is rooted in love for the motherland and its people

https://twitter.com/fsherjan/status/1342803343551451136?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: why the US must think outside the 'military' box
Three very different books about Pakistan have one thing in common: they all fail to give anything like a satisfactory account of that powder-keg country.

https://www.thenationalnews.com/arts-culture/books/pakistan-why-the-us-must-think-outside-the-military-box-1.473347

(Anatol)Lieven acknowledges the pernicious effects of the Inter-Services Intelligence and that the actions in Balochistan are self-destructive, yet there remains the wonder – at the cleanliness of military hospitals (which he thinks remain unmatched by their civilian counterparts), the smartness of the soldiers, the high-regard for their service. The Pakistani army is, to Lieven, “the only element of a great society that has ever existed in ­Pakistan”.

This romance would not be so unseemly if in his many interviews – and decades-long visits – Lieven had perceived the hundreds of thousands of grunt recruits who become orderlies, drivers, cooks, gardeners and nannies to the commissioned officers. With meagre salaries and near-bondage relationships to their “assigned officers”, this vast underclass of the Pakistani army keeps the cantonments clean, the major happy and the cars washed. Their silence makes just as much a lie out of Pakistan’s “great society” as the exploitative, self-immolating behaviour of the rest of the Pakistan military.

More broadly, both Riedel and Lieven, despite the differences between their expertise and their approaches to Pakistan, remain on the same page with regards to viewing the country as the sum of all its military parts. But there is a missing decade in these books. In the past 10 years, US foreign policy granted a military dictator unprecedented power by endowing him with billions of dollars and no strings attached. Musharraf and the military regime used this money to swallow more swathes of Pakistani land and economy, and impose further militarisation of civil and social structures.

The Lawyers’ Movement in 2007 did galvanise millions and force Musharraf from power – despite continued and vocal support of the White House. Yet, the military voice remains the only one that speaks for Pakistan. It matters little that Riedel and Lieven differ in their reading of the military – whether as an institution or as a politics or as a theology, the military is their central focus. But, insofar as this constitutes knowledge about Pakistan, is it enough to give us any understanding of the nation-state?
Riaz Haq said…
If there is no revolutionary mood among the masses in the heartland of Punjab, revolution also seems highly unlikely in the face of the power of Punjab’s entwined landowning, business, military and bureaucratic elites, and the deep traditionalism of most of the population. Nevertheless, Punjab has also long been home to very strong strains of Islamic revivalism. The headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat, the world’s greatest Muslim preaching organization, is in Raiwind, 20 miles to the south-west of Lahore. The Tabligh have always stressed their peaceful and apolitical nature; but 10 miles to the north-west of Lahore is Muridke, the headquarters of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, mother organization to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which played a leading role in the jihad against India in Kashmir, and carried out the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (p. 271). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…

There does seem to be a sort of loose community of sentiment favouring Punjab among many senior Punjabi army officers and bureaucrats – though one which is endlessly cut across by personal and political ties and ambitions, and by considerations of qaum (community) and religious affiliation. As a senior official in Islamabad told me: You have to argue twice as hard to push through any project in one of the other provinces; and if I want to push through a project to help a city in one of the other provinces, I always have to be careful to balance it with one helping a Punjabi city; but it doesn’t work the other way round. Any Sindhi-based national government has to lean over backwards to show that it is not disadvantaging the Punjab in any way. Concerning official jobs, according to the quota Punjabis have less than their proportion of the population, but they are over-represented in the senior jobs. That is partly because they are better educated on average – and that also means that they dominate the merit-based entry and the quota for women. He also said that I should be aware that he is a Mohajir, and therefore possibly biased himself. The closest Pakistan came to a united Punjabi establishment was under Zia-ul-Haq, when a Punjabi military ruler created a Punjab-based national political party under a Punjabi industrialist (Nawaz Sharif). However, the alliance between the military and the PML(N) frayed in the 1990s and collapsed completely when General Musharraf overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999. Since then, relations have been at best extremely distrustful. In turn, there are deep differences between northern Punjabi industrialists (who tend to support either the PML(N) or military regimes), and southern Punjabi ‘feudals’ (who tend towards the PPP). Punjabi industrialists, however, cannot dominate military regimes, as witness their failure to achieve their infrastructure and energy needs under both Zia and Musharraf. Finally, the Muslim religious leaders in Punjab are so fractured along theological, political, personal and regional lines that it does not make sense to speak of them as an establishment at all.

Punjabis from north-central Punjab certainly feel superior to the other nationalities in Pakistan, and this feeling – of which the others are well aware – helps to keep ethnic relations in a permanent state of mild tension. The Punjabis from these regions are quite convinced (and it must be said, with good reason) that they are harder working, better organized and more dynamic than anyone else in Pakistan except the Mohajirs; and while Punjabis respect Mohajirs, since the latter are not farmers they cannot really be fully fitted into the traditional Punjabi view of the world (as a very unkind saying about the Punjabi Jats has it: ‘Other peoples have culture. The Jats have agri-culture’). For the Sindhis, Punjabis tend to feel a rather amused and tolerant contempt, as for pleasant and easy-going but lazy younger relatives. For the Baloch there is contempt without the tolerance, as primitive tribesmen sponging off Punjabi charity. For the Pathans, however, Punjabi sentiments are very different, in ways that may have an effect on their attitudes to the Taleban and the war in Afghanistan.

Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (pp. 282-283). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
The (Pakistani) military therefore provides opportunities which the Pakistani economy cannot, and a position in the officer corps is immensely prized by the sons of shopkeepers and bigger farmers across Punjab and the NWFP. This allows the military to pick the very best recruits, and increases their sense of belonging to an elite. In the last years of British rule and the first years of Pakistan, most officers were recruited from the landed gentry and upper middle classes. These are still represented by figures such as former Chief of Army Staff General Jehangir Karamat, but a much more typical figure is the present COAS (as of 2010), General Ashfaq Kayani, son of an NCO. This social change reflects reflects partly the withdrawal of the upper middle classes to more comfortable professions, but also the immense increase in the numbers of officers required. Meanwhile, the political parties continue to be dominated by ‘feudal’ landowners and wealthy urban bosses, many of them not just corrupt but barely educated. This increases the sense of superiority to the politicians in the officer corps – something that I have heard from many officers and which was very marked in General Musharraf’s personal contempt for Benazir Bhutto and her husband. I have also been told by a number of officers and members of military families that ‘the officers’ mess is the most democratic institution in Pakistan, because its members are superior and junior during the day, but in the evening are comrades. That is something we have inherited from the British.’18 This may seem like a very strange statement, until one remembers that, in Pakistan, saying that something is the most spiritually democratic institution isn’t saying very much. Pakistani society is permeated by a culture of deference to superiors, starting with elders within the family and kinship group. As Stephen Lyon writes: Asymmetrical power relations form the cornerstone of Pakistani society . . . Close relations of equality are problematic for Pakistanis and seem to occur only in very limited conditions. In general, when Pakistanis meet, they weigh up the status of the person in front of them and behave accordingly.19 Pakistan’s dynastically ruled ‘democratic’ political parties exemplify this deference to inheritance and wealth; while in the army, as an officer told me: You rise on merit – well, mostly – not by inheritance,inheritance, and you salute the military rank and not the sardar or pir who has inherited his position from his father, or the businessman’s money. These days, many of the generals are the sons of clerks and shopkeepers, or if they are from military families, they are the sons of havildars [NCOs]. It doesn’t matter. The point is that they are generals.


Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (pp. 181-182). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
@ejazhaider employs the Quaid I Azam University’s struggle against illegal occupation of its land to illustrate the complexity of the civ-mil equation. Having approached all civilian fora without success, who else is left to appeal to but the military?


https://www.thefridaytimes.com/qau-and-civilian-supremacy/

Years ago, I had coopted Dr Ilhan Niaz for a report on civil-military relations. After we had finalised the report, he sent me an email with some very interesting points. Here’s a gist: There are three types of states. The first are civilian states. The military is either no longer or never was integral to the political order of the state in the domestic sphere. Ilhan’s point was that many of the theorists I had cited in the report belonged to such states and regarded “their exceptional circumstances as normal and desirable.” His second type was civilian-led states. In such states “the military remains an integral component of the political order of the state, a major aspect of the ability of such states to maintain their coherence, and a guarantor of the ultimate state writ and sovereignty.” He cited the example of the French Fifth Republic, Russia, constitutional-democratic India, and market-socialist China as politically-diverse examples of this second type. One can say that many of the Latin American and South East Asian states would also fall into this category.

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n its 73- or 74-year-old (depends on which school of counting one prefers) chequered political history, this country has constantly grappled with the issue of civilian control and supremacy. We currently have the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a loose opposition alliance of ideologically disparate political parties, agitating the issue against the sitting government which is referred to, pejoratively, as a ‘hybrid’ set-up.

However, neither the PDM nor the sitting government offers us a definition of democracy and civilian control. The Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) government is essentially a hybrid both in how it was conceived and how it has worked since its conception. That fact notwithstanding, it claims that it won the elections and, therefore, is a legitimate government. It also claims, not without irony — given the hybrid sobriquet for it — that it has the support of all institutions wherein it is quite right. Whether that serves to enhance its legitimacy or otherwise depends on whether one is a PTI or a PDM supporter.

The PDM, on the other hand, starts by making the same claim: vote ko izzat dau (respect people’s electoral choice). But by this it means something quite different — i.e., former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified and ousted under a plan, PTI was made to win according to the same plan and Mr Sharif pushed to the sidelines because he wanted to exercise the control that is constitutionally due a prime minister without interference from a praetorian army. In other words, civilian supremacy.

At this point, the PDM’s narrative also gets traction because of the poor performance of the PTI government. Barring the dyed-in-the-wool partisan, even informed PTI supporters acknowledge that this government hasn’t covered itself in glory.

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So, if civilian supremacy does not automatically give us democracy, what exactly is democracy? PDM says it’s about people’s electoral choices. Is that enough? Are we referring to someone or a system giving people a choice as a standalone, decontextualised virtue? What if I am given 10 choices, neither of which is to my liking? Should we then, before we begin to use certain terms, define them more carefully not only for what they must contain intrinsically but also with reference to the context? Put another way, if a system is structured badly and offers a bind, does it even matter how many choices one might get within that system.
Riaz Haq said…
In conclusion, weak political institutions and parties and incompetent leadership as well as the country’s geography and demography contribute to governmental failings and complex civil-military relations in Pakistan. This reality is reflected in public opinion polls that show a low level of trust in the government at 36 percent along with parliament, 27 percent; political parties, 30 percent; and politicians, 27 percent. In this context the most trusted institution in the country is Pakistan’s army, which is trusted by 82 percent of the population. But despite the lack of confidence in political intuitions and high trust in the army, most Pakistanis do trust democracy. According to a December 2017 Gallup Poll, 81 percent of Pakistanis prefer democracy, while only 19 percent would rather have a military dictatorship. Recent electoral developments suggest that Pakistan may be heading towards sustainable democracy.

https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/pakistans-civil-military-relations


Pakistan’s civilian government has little control over the country’s powerful army which stands out as a most trusted institution, with more than 80 percent public approval, compared to 36 percent approval for government. Weak institutions that fail to address Pakistan’s challenges have allowed the army to become more assertive, explains Riaz Hassan, research professor and director of the International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding, and he argues that demography has a role: “The most striking aspect of Pakistan’s demography is that it is made up of six ‘nations,’ each divided between two or, in the case of Balochis, three countries,” he writes. “All are predominantly Islamic, but also endowed with their own distinct, historically grounded cultural identities.” Despite governmental failings and difficult civil-military relations in Pakistan, public polling indicates strong support for democracy, at 80 percent, rather than for a military dictatorship. – YaleGlobal

https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/pakistans-civil-military-relations

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