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:
|Terror Stats in Pakistan. Source: satp.org|
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By ATTA RASOOL MALIK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gen Naseer Akhtar
Gen Raheem Bux
Gen Naseereul Islam
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.
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?
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.”
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
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.
A fake video circulating on Twitter even claimed to show some of the alleged unrest.
In reality, none of it was true.
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.
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.
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."
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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.
(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?
Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (p. 271). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
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.
Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (pp. 181-182). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
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.
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.
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.
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
Shortly before the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Mark Milley, told aides the US was facing a “Reichstag moment” because Donald Trump was preaching “the gospel of the Führer”, according to an eagerly awaited book about Trump’s last year in office.
The excerpts from I Alone Can Fix This, by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, were reported by New York magazine on Wednesday. The authors’ employer, the Washington Post, published the first extract from the book a day earlier. It will be published next week.
Milley’s invocation of Germany under the Third Reich follows a report in another book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election, by Michael C Bender, that Trump told his chief of staff, John Kelly, “Hitler did a lot of good things”.
Trump denies having made the remark.
Leonnig and Rucker report that Milley spoke to an “old friend”, who warned the general that Trump and his allies were trying to “overturn the government” in response to Joe Biden’s election victory, which Trump falsely maintains was the result of electoral fraud.
Milley is reported to have said: “They may try, but they’re not going to fucking succeed. You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with guns.”
Reportedly calling Trump supporters “Brownshirts”, a reference to paramilitaries who served Hitler in Germany in the 1930s, Milley is reported to have believed long before the Capitol attack that “Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military”.
Milley notoriously appeared with Trump in Lafayette Square in Washington in June 2020, after anti-racism protesters had been aggressively cleared and as Trump walked to a church to stage a photo op with a Bible.
The general apologised for that incident. It has been widely reported that he resisted Trump’s efforts then to invoke the Insurrection Act and crack down on the protests.
Milley’s “Reichstag moment” remark refers to a fire at the German parliament which the Nazis used to consolidate their authoritarian rule in 1933.
Trump’s supporters attacked Congress on 6 January, the day the electoral college results were certified . Five people died.
Leonnig and Rucker report that Milley called the attackers “Nazis” and, in reference to two far-right groups, said “they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys”.
“These are the same people we fought in [the second world war],” he reportedly said.
According to New York magazine, the authors also report that Milley, who made headlines and stoked rightwing ire last month by defending teaching about historic racism in army educational establishments, met former first lady Michelle Obama at the Capitol on 20 January, the day Biden was inaugurated.
“No one has a bigger smile today than I do,” Milley reportedly said. “You can’t see it under my mask but I do.”
1. The United States with about 240-year history likes to pass judgement on China which has over 2,400 year history. What makes the US think China would listen to the American advice?
2. The West is in the habit of judging everyone, including the Chinese. The Chinese have just had the best 30 years of their history. Would the Chinese listen to the American advice on "democracy" and political freedoms after they have seen what happened to Russia when the Russians decided to adopt democracy in 1990s and their economy collapsed?
3. More than 120 million Chinese tourists go to other countries freely and willingly return to China every year. Would they return freely if China was an oppressive stalinist regime? The fact is that while the political freedoms have not increased there has been an explosion of personal freedoms in China over the last 30 years.
As for the individual books, it would have been interesting to see
Fair and Paul examine how the Pakistan Army defines concepts such as
“friends” and “interests” in the international context. Fair approaches this
in her review of the army’s hagiographic treatment of China as compared
with the generally vitriolic rhetoric reserved for the United States, and
Paul touches on this issue when he depicts Pakistan as viewing the world
through a Hobbesian prism. But it would have been enlightening if they
had carried this line of thinking a few steps further. Shah, on the other
hand, may be too critical of the army in some of its recent interactions with
the civilian elements of the state. The former chief of staff of the Pakistan
army, General Ashfaq Kayani, for one, allegedly tried but failed to elicit
strategic guidance from the civilian leadership. Having cleared and held
zones of militancy such as Swat, the army may also legitimately complain
that civilian authorities are conspicuous by their absence when the time
comes for the military to withdraw. Furthermore, the army is the object of
urgent importunities by groups across the political spectrum whenever a
domestic crisis arises. For example, Shah might have explicitly addressed
the thorny issues associated with the army’s role—if any—when elected
officials undermine the political system through corruption, ineptitude, or
megalomaniac behavior. Breaking out of this destructive cycle requires civil
as well as military vision and steadfastness.
These lacunae and desiderata notwithstanding, all three works are
excellent additions to the growing scholarship on Pakistan and its army.
Policy-relevant and academically rigorous, thoughtful and readable, they
can be recommended highly for decision-makers, staffers, and analysts in
the policy, security, and intelligence communities. They will be especially
valuable for diplomats and military officers assigned to serve in Pakistan or
with Pakistani armed forces.
The current Covid crisis has tested states globally for their ability to handle challenges
The current Covid crisis has tested states globally for their ability to handle challenges emerging out of this pandemic. In case of India, the Covid crisis seems to have made a permanent home in the corridors of Rajpath. Few days back, Allahabad High Court rebuked the UP government for its collapsing health system in rural areas and leaving the poor people to ‘Ram bharose’.
India has failed its people because of five major factors: poor governance, a disregard of lower classes, a confused and fake leadership, bankruptcy of morality, and hiding of health data. These are covered in detail here.
Starting from forewarning, timely decisions and interventions to the health management, the current crisis has been an unfortunate saga of one failure after the other. India had built an image of a cheap and high-quality health system for the last three decades. Combined with tourist attractions, India named it health tourism. It was projected that you could get a cheap deal by enjoying medical treatment at state-of-the-art hospitals, with highly qualified medical staff looking after you along with tourism.
No wonder the Indian government and private hospitals made fortunes out of this package.
The advent of Covid and its second wave in April this year exposed the Indian health system. Starting from the top, Indian political leadership had put cronies in charge of the Covid crisis management, the Godi media and the sycophant cabal of Modi lovers in the cabinet kept the poor Indians in good humour by his famous strategy of ‘sab changa see’. Last year, when Narendra Modi shut down India without warning, an exodus occurred of millions of poor workers from big cities to the villages. We named it the March of Shame, as poor and lower-class workers were abandoned by the states and the union government to travel hundreds of miles on foot.
Although few journalists like Barkha Dutt and some YouTubers covered this arduous journey of migrant workers, the Godi media did not allow it to become a major issue as it affected the so-called image of Modi’s progressive India.
Two weeks ago, a British channel, 4 News, interviewed Sir Anish Kapoor where he revealed some eye-opening, bitter facts. Kapoor feels that the environment of disenfranchisement of the lower class has been ingrained in the Indian psyche for a millennia and nothing will change because of following reasons:
One, whatever you do in India, there is someone lower than you to suffer. You don’t have to pick up your rubbish, someone else will do so. Two, historic disdain of castes, which is a racial looking down upon the dark-skinned downtrodden people. Three, it doesn’t matter that the lower class dies — the invisible and unwanted ones are suffering the most from Covid as no one in the upper class is bothered. Four, there has never been an anti-poverty riot in India in the past many centuries, as the lower classes are so suppressed that they cannot raise their voice for poverty.
While it is important to discuss the physical aspects, the most alarming thing that emerged out of this crisis is the moral question. As mismanagement and poor governance led to a shortage of oxygen and lifesaving medicines, the worst side of corporate India came into action. The price of Remdesivir went up from Rs10,000 Rs70,000; ambulance fares to ferry patients and dead bodies went up five times; MPs from BJP were seen selling hospital beds for Covid patients; an oxygen cylinder jumped from Rs7,000 to Rs40,000.
Ninety per cent or 9 out of 10 Pakistanis believe that it is very important to respect the army in order to be a true Pakistani, according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup and Gilani Pakistan
Ninety per cent Pakistanis believe respecting army is very important
LAHORE. Ninety per cent or 9 out of 10 Pakistanis believe that it is very important to respect the army in order to be a true Pakistani, according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup and Gilani Pakistan.
At the opinion poll on patriotism — released on November 25 – a national representative sample of adult men and women from across the four provinces was asked as to what degree he or she believes respecting the army is necessary to be a true Pakistani.
According to Gallup Pakistan, in response to this question, 90% people said it is very important; 7% said it is somewhat important; 1% said it is of very little importance while another 1% people said it is not important at all. One percent did not know the answer or provided no response.
Interestingly, slightly more rural respondents (92%) felt that it is very important to respect the army in order to be a true Pakistani as compared to urban respondents (87%).
The study was released by Gilani Research Foundation and carried out by Gallup and Gilani Pakistan. The recent survey was conducted using a sample of 1,730 men and women in urban and rural areas of all four provinces of the country from September 23, 2021 to October 8, 2021.
According to Gallup Pakistan the error margin was estimated to be approximately ± 2-3 percent at the 95% confidence level. The methodology used for data collection was CATI.
Talking to Bol News with regard to the poll, analyst Imtiaz Gul said if it was a representative survey then it obviously reflects public sentiment and hence people at large should keep this in mind when judging the armed forces. Foul-mouthing or casting aspersions on any state institution is bad anyway.
Dr Maria Sultan, a leading defence analyst and South Asian Strategic Stability Institute University (SASSI) director general, said the armed forces are the backbone of the country’s defence and the survey reflects the fact that it is a truly representative organisation that will stand for the people.
“Hence the faith in the institution is the reflection of this expectation that the armed forces represent a commitment to the country’s and people’s interest in line with our strategic culture,” she said.
Agreeing with them, senior defence analyst Lt Gen (retd) Ghulam Mustafa said a very important thing about Pakistan which people forget is the relationship of the armed forces with its masses.
For him, firstly, one thing which cannot be denied is that every fourth or fifth Pakistani is related to the army one way or another directly or indirectly. Either his brother, sister or relative is part of the army because they are aware of what the army is doing for them, he said.
Read more: Lt Gen Nigar Johar’s appointment as AMC col commandant ‘matter of pride’, says COAS
“On the other hand, the army, about which it is said that they are spending a lot of money, also knows how they are doing gigantic tasks in such a limited budget.
“Secondly, this relationship of masses and the armed forces should be seen from another perspective as well that if one brother is a general or lieutenant general his brother could be a sepoy which speaks volumes about the merit of this institution as in the army the sons of sepoys can also reach the rank of general which is not possible in any other department or institution of this country.
“Even the masses are aware that in the army if a father is a general it is no guarantee that his son or daughter will also become a general. Due to all of these reasons the masses have a huge amount of respect for the armed forces,” he said.
Pakistan’s generals, not its politicians, defined the national interest. General Ashfaq Kayani, the chief of army staff, and General Shuja Pasha, head of the ISI, were Punjabis from the lower middle class. The military offered a path upward to hardworking Pakistanis like them, and it taught them to despise the civilian politicians as privileged, selfish, undisciplined. Kayani was a chain-smoking golfer with a strategic mind that remained stuck in the 1950s, when the existential threat to Pakistan came from India. He had studied at Fort Leavenworth and admired the U.S. armed forces. He had all the time in the world for his American counterpart, Admiral Mullen, who made twenty-seven trips to Pakistan as chairman of the Joint Chiefs and always dined alone with Kayani at his house in Rawalpindi, the cantonment city next to Islamabad, patiently trying to understand what Pakistan wanted from the United States. Kayani had less interest in seeing Holbrooke.
Packer, George. Our Man . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
As for Pakistan’s politicians, they would always promise things they couldn’t deliver because they didn’t have the popular standing at home. The public was divided on violent Islamists but nearly united in its strident anti-Americanism, which no amount of flood relief could change. But the promises kept coming along with the deceptions, because the generals and the politicians needed the Americans. It was like theater, Haqqani said. The whole region was a theater in which everyone understood their part, except the Americans.
These lessons were delivered below the waterline. They bore no resemblance to the ambassador’s official cables to the foreign secretary in Islamabad after his formal meetings with Holbrooke, in which he echoed the Pakistani military’s suspicion of every American move. His cables were part of the theater. Holbrooke’s labors were gargantuan. The contemplation of them wears me out. Repeated trips to Islamabad, strategic dialogues in Washington, donor meetings in Tokyo and Madrid, the bilats, the trilats, the fifth draft of the thirty-seventh memo, the sheer output of words—in pursuit of a chimera. All the while knowing what he was dealing with—all the while thinking he could do it anyway, with another memo, another meeting… One evening he was sitting in Haqqani’s library when the ambassador took a copy of To End a War off the shelf. He opened the book and read aloud a description description of the Balkan presidents at Dayton—their selfishness, their lack of concern for the lives of their people. “Do you feel that you’re dealing with a similar situation now?” Haqqani asked. “God, I’d forgotten about that,” Holbrooke said. “Maybe it’s true.” Haqqani asked what Holbrooke was hoping to achieve. “I am trying to get the Pakistani military to be incrementally less deceitful toward the United States.”
Packer, George. Our Man . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everyone. I want to begin by thanking the Secretary of Defense and our FEMA Director for joining me today. We were joking earlier — no, it wasn’t really joking: When you need something done, call on the military. (Laughs.) We’ll get FEMA — we’ll make sure it gets done.
Look, we’re about to get a COVID-19 briefing from military and medical teams on the ground in Arizona, Michigan, and New York. They’re part of a major deployment of our nation’s armed forces to help hospitals across the country manage this surge of the Omicron virus — this surge that’s having an impact on hospitals.
Like all healthcare workers, they are heroes, and I’m grateful for what they do.
But before we begin, I want to provide an update on our fight against COVID-19 and announce new steps.
First, the update. I know we’re all frustrated as we enter this new year. The Omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations.
I’ve been — I’ve been saying that, as we remain in this pandemic, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And I mean by this: Right now, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are testing positive, but what happens after that could not be more different.
If vaccinated people test positive, they overwhelmingly have either no symptoms at all or they have mild symptoms.
And if they’re — if you’re unvaccinated — if they test positive — there are — you are 17 times more likely to get hospitalized.
As a result, they’re crowding our hospitals, leaving little room for anyone else who might have a heart attack or an injury in an automobile accident or any injury at all.
And yes, the unvaccinated are dying from COVID-19.
But here’s the deal: Because we’ve fully vaccinated nearly 210 million Americans, the majority of the country is safe from severe COVID-19 consequences.
That’s why, even as the number of cases among the vaccinated Americans go up, deaths are down dramatically from last winter.
For example, before its vaccination requirement, the United States — excuse me — United Airlines was averaging one employee dying a week from COVID-19. After implementing its requirement, it has led to 99 percent of its employees being vaccinated. United had 3,600 employees test positive, but zero hospitalizations, zero deaths in over 8 weeks.
But as long as we have tens of millions of people who will not get vaccinated, we’re going to have full hospitals and needless deaths.
So, the single most important thing to determine your outcome in this pandemic is getting vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated, join the nearly 210 million American people who are vaccinated.
And if you are vaccinated, join the nearly 80 million Americans who have gotten the booster shot, with the strongest protection possible.
Vaccines are safe, they’re free, and they’re widely available. So, do it today, please, for your sake, the sake of your kids, and the sake of the country.
Now, I don’t like to, you know, outline the next steps we’re taking against — I’d like to outline the next steps we’re taking against Omi- — the Omicron variant.
Vaccinations are obviously the most important thing we are doing, but they are not the only important thing.