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

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