The Abbottabad incident is gradually unfolding and so are the stories revolving around it. The establishments in both America and Pakistan are creating policy rigmarole through their self-contradicting statements. Criticism on the disappointing silence of our civil and military leadership, our prime ministers’ unsuccessful trip to France and Pakistan’s bashing by the international community on its mysterious role in OBL’s presence led the government to convene an in-camera session of parliament, where senior military and intelligence officials briefed parliamentarians on the ‘hows’ and ‘whats’ of Abbottabad.
People are questioning the efficiency and competence of Pakistan’s armed forces and intelligence agencies, as well as the hefty defence budget. In fact for the first time since 1971, the armed forces of Pakistan have had to take a defensive position, with the ISI chief offering a public apology and resignation, and accepting the responsibility of ‘security negligence’ (which many term security failure) in the wake of the Abbottabad incident. This can be a wonderful opportunity for the political leadership to make the army subservient to parliament, as mandated by the 1973 Constitution. However, so far the government seems to be in self-denial on this, saying that it was, in fact, in control — a claim no one could buy.
It is the political forces’ weakness that as a nation, we are still unclear whether we are fighting our ‘own’ war or one that is imposed on us, or whether the drone attacks on our territory are due to a secret deal with the US or actual attempts to take out the Talibans.
Of course an in-camera session would not answer these questions. However, now the parliamentary forces in Pakistan should come up with a clear-cut position on strategic matters which would help in removing ideological confusions among various state institutions and foster trust between the people and the government. To do this, parliament should reconsider previous secret agreements of preceding governments, particularly those of Pervez Musharraf’s government, not only with the US, but also with other foreign governments who are controlling our air bases.
To learn from the mistakes of its past, the government should initiate a tripartite inquiry commission involving higher judiciary, parliamentarians representing all parties and military officials, to investigate the security failure that, not only, let OBL stay in Pakistan for many years, but also facilitated the US military operation in Abbottabad.
It is not about sacking a few individuals, but rather, about redefining the civil military relationships. The military establishment should categorically reassess its positions and tell the nation the truth about our role in the war on terror. The spy agencies should stop focusing on defence and foreign affairs, allowing the designated political forces to take independent decisions. A revised civil-military relationship would help in building a peaceful, prosperous and tolerant Pakistan as imagined by its founders. A new social contract should be in place where the state and its agencies do not consider their citizens ‘agents of enemies’, but rather protectors of this country.
URL to article: http://tribune.com.pk/story/170490/needed-a-revised-civil-military-relationship/
This article was originally published at: The Express Tribune
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.