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Published Date: Nov 28, 2012


Deliberating on implications of civil-military divide, the experts at a roundtable discussion have maintained that civil-military divide has done immense harm to Pakistan, adding that, Pakistan can no longer afford reflection of growing divide on policy making. Participants of the meeting also discussed the paradoxical debate of striking a balance between the two through conduct of free and fair elections, having a parliamentary democracy or opting for constitutionalism as a better solution to the problem.

The experts were speaking at a roundtable discussion on “Civil-military imbalance and its policy implications” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday. The discussion included members from academia and research community, ex-civil and military officials, parliamentarians, and human rights activists. Ejaz Haider, Senior Advisor, SDPI moderated the discussion.

During discussion, Dr. Ilhan Niaz of Quaid-e-Azam University provided an excellent starting point by highlighting the dearth of academic research which explains clout of suspicion between the civil and military. Dr Niaz explained that due to certain socio-eco trends, civilian side is facing an imbalance and astonishing administration decline. “Professionalism on civil side had collapsed and the ability of Pakistan’s civil sector to formulate any policy is declining due to inept governance, corruption and weak strategies. In result, military is perceived to be the Pakistan’s most reliable institute,” he added.

The roundtable also explored the civil-military imbalance from the perspective of the elected parliamentarians with Khurram Dastgir of PML-N eloquently framing the divide to be a clash between the elected officials and those who have preponderance over the policy making. He referred ‘freedom of speech and action’ as the tools to empower civilian actors and bring about a certain balance to the civil-military divide.

Renowned columnist and MNA PML-N Ayaz Amir carried the discussion forward by underlying the importance of the Army in holding the country together. He provided analytical assessment of the capacity of some of the political parties in organizing rallies, collection of funds, and etc and juxtaposed it with the inability of the civilian government to act while in power.

The roundtable identified major problem areas of civilian side including erosion of civilian bureaucracy due to politicization and corruption, and also the lack of democracy within the political parties – a point raised by Aarish Khan.

Tahira Abdullah raised an important point of allocation of resources to military which was discussed in detail by the participants. She also dejected feudalism, tribal leaders, and Peer-Mureedi system prevailing in the civilian side which makes it a very un-democratic system.

The roundtable concluded with Gen (Retd) Talat Masood, and Gen (Retd) Umar Farooq bringing the perspective of Army on the table while discussing the issues of professionalism through Army’s perspective. The polarity between the views of these analyst revealed the diversity of opinion, and sentiment that exists in the Army, hence, making the subject of civil-military imbalance a far more complex issue than what meets the eye.

Some of the other participants at the discussion included Zahid Hussain Renowned journalist and media analyst; Dr Farzana Bari, Social activist, Malika Raza Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf; Britta Petersen, Country Director Heinrich Böll Stiftung;  Raza Rumi, Director,  Jinnah Institute and  Hussain Nadim faculty member NUST; Salma Malik and Mubashir Akram.