Where is the Pakistan Military Headed?

Posted on October 11, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics
71 Comments
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Adil Najam

The military is never really out of the news in Pakistan. Nor is it ever far from the center of Pakistan politics. But recent event have brought the question of where the Pakistan military is headed into even sharper relief than usual.

There is much speculation – maybe too much speculation – on where the Pakistan military is headed in the coming days and weeks.

There are some who argue that following the attack on the GHQ the military will act even more swiftly on extremists in Pakistan – whether in the Waziristan region or in Southern Punjab. Others feel that the furore created by the Kerry-Lugar Bill has so poisoned the civil-military relationship in Pakistan that even the immediate future of Pakistan’s political displacements may (again) be in doubt. Yet others would argue that while the tensions are all real, the military is in that phase that comes after each prolonged period of military rule when it prefers to remain in the political background while it consolidates its public image.

My own current sense is that there may be some truth in all three scenarios. Possibly in a combination of the three. Of course, there could be other directions in the mix too. What do you think? Where is the Pakistan military headed in the next many days? And what does that mean about where Pakistan is headed?

71 responses to “Where is the Pakistan Military Headed?”

  1. Vaqas says:

    I hope that the military will remain professional and out of politics.

  2. PAKISTANI says:

    Asif and all the Army haters,

    The army (countless Ghazi and Shaheed) have protected Pakistan for over 60 years. The fact that you are not a banya lala, you arse hole, is because of the Army. They are the ones who have protected your mothers from being raped by the Hindu and Sikh forces across the border. The shaheeds have sacrificed their today for your tomorrow, and all you ungrateful pigs can do is to act like hindu chuttyas and talk Sheit about the Army. Your ungratefulness puts even Afghanis to shame.

  3. roxio says:

    What’s wrong with Pakistan’s Army? A former officer’s perspective

    By Bill Roggio
    The Long War Journal

    Earlier, I noted that the Pakistani military’s lack of response to the assault on Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi is going to have serious repercussions. A comment from a former Pakistani Army officer, passed along from my friend Ravi Rikhye at Orbat.com, drives the point home.

    The note below was written by Agha H. Amin, a retired cavalry officer in the Pakistani Army currently working for a power transmission company in Afghanistan. Mr. Amin provides a scathing look at the Pakistani military and its inability to quickly and effectively respond. The military’s authority has eroded and is no longer feared by enemies within the state, Mr. Amin argues, and the effectiveness of the terrorist assault and the poor response of the unit guarding the headquarters and the officers within make the military look weak. Here goes:

    The attack on Pakistani GHQ [General Headquarters] raises more serious questions about Pakistan Army’s military effectiveness and potency than answers.
    The most crucial and grave question is that the Pakistani military seems to have lost in a great degree its coercive value and moral deterrence. Something which is the foundation of any political system and on which all agree starting from Freud, Aristotle, Plato down to Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Khomeni.

    Once General Musharraf decided to make a U turn under coercion by USA the army lost its moral credibility in the eyes of a large section of Pakistani populace, not the majority but a sizeable minority far more effective in tangible potency than a far larger minority.

    The first most serious question is not from where the threat originated but how did a small minority of a few handpicked young men developed the resolution to attack the citadel of Pakistani military, the GHQ ? Its an intangible question but far more serious than whether these men had their organisational centre in Waziristan or Afghanistan.

    The second serious question is the response to the attack.Or one may say the lack of response !

    If ten or so armed men can terrorise and paralyse a half a million plus army’s headquarter for 22 plus hours the issue is strategic rather than tactical ! If ten civilians trained by irrational mullahs can penetrate a citadel hitherto considered impregnable and impenetrable and 1600 officers inside it are like chicken in a barbed wired coup at mercy of ten armed and highly motivated men then the situation is grave, not routine. A witness states that the attackers held some 4 to 6 officers from major to colonel rank hostages and also offered them their dry rations.This shows that the attackers wanted to deliver a message and did not want to inflict fatalities on the Pakistan Army.

    In a nutshell the serious aspects of the issue are :–

    1. The most serious threat to Pakistan is internal and not external.
    2. The military has lost its strategic and coercive deterrent value.
    3. That ten armed civilians penetrated a military headquarters guarded by an infantry battalion and a similar number of DSG soldiers [Defense Security Guards] is a serious strategic imbalance.
    4. That 6 plus armed men were roaming the GHQ for many hours and had the opportunity to kill many generals, an opportunity that they for some mysterious reasons chose not to exercise is a cause of grave strategic concern.
    5. The fact that the perimeter guarding battalion 10 Punjab although it killed some four intruders failed to hold the few attackers from penetrating the GHQ is a grave matter.
    6. The fact that the battalion plus DSG soldiers although armed with G 3 and SMG rifles just bolted away is a grave matter.
    7. The fact that it took more than 18 hours and the fact that SSG troops had to be brought from some 70 miles away to redeem the situation is ironic par excellence.
    8. The fact that Pakistan’s enemies both state and non state are so ineffective still is the only consoling part of the issue.

    Here is a case of a military machine :–

    1. Fighting a civil war with serious internal fractures.
    2. A military machine which has lost a great degree of its coercive value.
    3. Lack of initiative in the officer rank and lack of forethought in not allowing the some 1600 officers in GHQ not to carry weapons.
    4. The primacy of non state actors in Pakistan.

    Sad is the story. Hilarious are the praises being heaped on the military’s response. Where is the honour and dignity of danger in overcoming six well motivated irregulars by a commando force outnumbering them by 100 to 1. This is not a criticism. I am not a paid journalist. This is a call for reflection .Serious reflection and serious inner thinking that may be the spur to serious reorganisation in the Pakistani military. The enemy is not in Waziristan or Afghanistan. The enemy is our own damn inefficiency and complacency. It merits serious thinking at all plains, tactical, operational and strategic.

  4. Asif says:

    @Aamir and other army lovers of Pakistan

    You say you have no appetite for jokers such as Sharif’s, Zardari, Bhuttos, Leghari’s, etc etc. List is long and I have the name of a few other political actors that should be here as well. Agreed completely! But what about the jokers on the other side. Is anyone forgetting Mushy, Zia, Ayub, Yahya Khan? Were these not jokers? Brother, problem is when the Zardari’s and Sharif’s are in power at the worst they can do is to loot our country and people, destroy the economy, rape and plunder etc etc. But when you bring in the army in the equation you can also add destruction of the army to the equation. Reason is simple, any institution, organization, company is successful as long as it stays focused on one highly specific task. You know Toyota is going to fail as a car company when it enters the market selling shampoo. Army should focus on its job which is defending the country from EXTERNAL threats. Let these politicians run their corrupt schemes and let them finish their terms so they cannot say at the end that “saai haamaay kaam karnaay kaa mouqaa hee naheen milla”. This democratic wheel has to keep turning for it to become effective. India has a much higher poor and illiterate population yet they keep electing one efficient government after anothery. Guys, these were our countrymen not to long ago. People of Pakistan can do the same, they just need to be given a chance. Unfortunately like a lion that has tasted human blood, Pak army will not let go that easily. We need to shame them, if thats the least we can do.
    Disclaimer: Half my family is in the army.

  5. Aamir Ali says:

    @Asif

    Army’s job is defending the country from both internal and external threats, not just external. The Army is doing its job.

    On the other hand the civilian do-nothing govt is wasting time and money of Pakistanis, while Parliament remains a rubberstamp and pseudo-analysts, media anchors and useless politicians spend most of their days blaring from talk shows and jalsas.

    So I think your anti-Army fervour is outdated, Mr Musharraf left power over a year ago.

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