Military of Pakistan in Internal Politics

Military of Pakistan in Internal Politics

The military of Pakistan has played a vital role in the political history of the country. Pakistan has spent its 32 years under the leadership of Army Generals who imposed martial laws in the country. Civil-Military relations have been a debating fact for many decades. Military intervention in politics and its effect on the civilian government’s decision is important to understand and it’s future in Pakistani politics.

This article aims to analyze the military interference in the politics of Pakistan from where it began and where it today is. As Pakistan has spent almost half of its time in Martial Laws so we aim to investigate such causes which encouraged first martial law and how it went stronger with time. Military interference in the politics of Pakistan is not new; it was in the early foundation days of Pakistan that the military started interfering because of the weak institutions and constitutional delay that took place.

Do not forget that armed forces are the servants of the people. You do not make national policies; it is we, the civilian who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted
– Quaid-e-Azam

Here is how Quaid defined the army’s role in Pakistan but his vision never came true because of a politically weak state. At that time, enhancing military capability was important to fight enemies around. This enhancement led to a strong military. With incapable politicians, it became inevitable for the military to take over.

It was in its constructing two decades which strengthened the military to take over and to have a never-ending impact on the country’s politics. This era strengthened bureaucracy as well. Bengali-Punjabi controversy delayed the constitution-making process of Pakistan further. Bengali with its 54% of all population felt neglected by West Pakistan. Both fear dominance of one another. 9 years delay in framing constitution Instability in 1952 to 1958 in which 7 prime ministers rose and fell.

After the struggle for separate homeland under the leadership of Mr, Jinnah Pakistan came into being and Jinnah had the burden of the newly born country on his shoulders but unfortunately, he died soon in 1948 after one year of independence and then another leader Liaquat Ali who died in 1951. The death of both leaders at the very beginning of the country made the condition worse. The refugee problem, poor economic resources, regional conflict (especially with India), the decline of the Muslim League and unstable government and political coalitions made the military more effective to impose martial law. First martial law was imposed in October 1958 that lasted till 1971.

It was Iskender Mirza who dissolved the government on 7th October 1958 and on 27th October 1958 Ayub khan imposed first martial law. There were many improvements and developments in general Ayub khan’s regime. That is why his regime is known as the golden period of Pakistan’s political history.

  • Prevention of illicit weapon
  • Gold smugglers were caught
  • Prevent adulteration in food items
  • Import licensing restriction on the sale and purchase
  • Establish industrial unit

But although he brought much reform we can not say dictatorship is better than a democratic government. The work of the Army is to protect the borders rather than intervening in the government’s internal problems. (The worse democracy is better than the best dictatorship).

Gen: Zia removed Bhutto in a bloodless coup, suspending the constitution and declaring martial law. He announced to hold elections in 90 days but didn’t do that. He banned and arrested political activists and journalists. Shariat benches constituted as the high court levels. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged in Rawalpindi jail on 4th April .1979 despite a split verdict and international appeals. Gen Zia dragged Pakistan into the jihad sponsored by the Americans and Saudis. Zia’s period was one of the worst in the history of Pakistan’s military rule. This resulted in military-civilian relations difficult to be maintained cordially.

On 12 October 1999, Musharraf ousted Sharif’s Administration and assumed control of the government. While economic reforms undertaken during his regime have yielded some results, social reform programs and his liberal views, e.g. on reforming extremist version of the practices prevalent in Islam, appear to have met with resistance. Musharraf participated as an ally of U.S led invasion of Afghanistan and sent thousands of troops into the mountain eons region of Waziristan in the search of Osama bin Laden(blames for masterminding in 9/11. Under his era, he proclaimed a state of emergency on November 3, 2007, and sacked the Chief Justice of Pakistan along with 14 other judges of the Supreme Court. However, on August 18, 2008, President Pervez Musharraf announced in a televised address to the nation that he had decided to resign after nine years in power.

Long term military rule left a great impact on politics, economics and foreign policies of Pakistan. Whenever an army comes in power they suspend the constitution and weaken parliamentary democracy by presidential. Zia and Pervez compromised the sovereignty of Pakistan during the Afghan occupation of the Soviet Union. Although Ayub introduced Basic Democracy, Zia introduced District Government and Pervez introduced the Devolution of power to win local support and enhanced centralized power but military rulers are incapable to deal more complicated issues of the country as it is not what they were trained for.

Although military intervention in politics is a threat to a country’s democracy and Pakistan has spent almost half of its time under military dictators which resultant never ending interference in the country’s politics. But now the scenario of Pakistan is totally changed, now it is harder or even impossible for the military to take over. Political parties are now more active than ever before. The civil society of Pakistan nowadays is participating and playing an active role in society. A vibrant media and an independent judiciary. Parliament is getting a briefing on security matters. There were certain incidents of made civil-military to work together such as2 may 2011, the sovereignty of Pakistan was violated by America when Osama bin Laden was an encounter in Abbottabad Pakistan, Attack on Army public school in 16 December 2014, Trump statement to put Pakistan into watch list, cut off aids and consider Pakistan as a safe heaven for a terrorist. Pressure from the external power including terrorism thread, to hold the CPEC project successfully and to maintain its power in the region resultant the healthy and co-operative relations between Civil-Military leadership of Pakistan. Now both powerful institutions are working together to make the country a better place. Military these days does not rule but works as a defense force and civilians are doing their job well now.

Armed forces are the custodians of life, property, and honor of the people of Pakistan.”
“Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah”

Kainat Naseer Balouch

The writer is Ex-Student of the Department of Political Science, University of Sindh, Jamshoro.

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