Who is at the helm of affairs in Pakistan? Every single sane person knows it. It is a fact that the civilian governments in Pakistan are always dependent on the defence establishment’s mandate rather than depending on the mandate of the masses.
As per the Constitution of Pakistan every democratic government is answerable to the people of Pakistan but in reality they are actually answerable to the GHQ. Isksnder Mirza, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Muhammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif were all dictated by GHQ and whenever they tried to resist they were thrown out of power or were cut to size thus striving all the time for the completion of their terms instead of focusing on good governance.
Every single Prime Minister in Pakistan can only do his job smoothly if he completely surrenders authority in the matter of defence, interior strategic decisions and foreign policy. It means the rules for civilian governments are already decided and they have been told to go by the book, not to cross the red lines defined by the defence establishment. This makes it a “state within a state” who instead of ruling the country from the front prefers to use politicians and civilian governments to implement its decision and exercise power.
If any elected Prime Minister refuses to be dictated to or tries to assert his authority in the matters pertaining to defence and foreign policies he has to face the music. Zulfikar Bhutto was hanged, Benazir and Nawaz Sharif exiled. To date not even a single Prime Minister in the history of Pakistan has been able to complete his five year term.
In the modern age the defence establishment cannot impose martial law as it is not accepted by the global players and also results in restrictions and cuts in aid from the United States and Europe. The defence establishment therefore came up with the new doctrine of ruling the country from behind the scenes through installing a puppet civilian or making a democratic government weak.
But it went all wrong when Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto countered their power and challenged their narrative by joining hands. Benazir Bhutto was eliminated in mysterious and suspicious circumstances and it was left to Nawaz Sharif to challenge the authority of the defence establishment on these matters and to shift the balance of power in favour of civilian governments. The day he turned against the establishment he was challenged, and even now is on the brink of being ousted for the third time from power.
The famous news gate also known as the “Dawn leaks” inquiry’s commission report was handed over to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and he issued a notification and dismissed his close aide Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer Rao Tehseen. It appeared that this rift of news leaks was over and Sharif was at last having a good time with the current defence establishment. But all of a sudden the Director General of Inter Services Relations, ISPR, tweeted that they rejected the notification. The tone of the tweet was so humiliating that it created the impression of someone telling his employee that he is not happy with his work thus rejecting his proposal and recommendations.
As per the Constitution of Pakistan, the Army is a subordinate institution of the Government of Pakistan and works under the supervision of the Prime Minister. Article 243 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan states that “The Federal Government shall have control and command of the Armed Forces.” Contrary to this an officer of the subordinate institution tweeted that “Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected.” This tweet actually shows a glimpse as to how weak and inferior civil governments are and that the real master running the show is the defence establishment. It also proves the bitter fact that no matter how heavy the mandate the people give to politicians to rule the country, the weight of the Guns and Boots is always heavier than the weight of the mandate given by the voters.
As expected this tweet from ISPR shook the government, news and media outlets giving special coverage to this tweet considering it a message from the Pakistani mighty establishment to the Prime Minister. Opposition political parties commended and lauded the tweet and demanded the Dawn Leaks report, the masses generally told that Sharif is a security risk for the country.
This habit of declaring someone a traitor or a risk to a National security, actually shows our collective psychology of liking dictatorship in every domain of life and believing in a self created paradox. As an individual we love to dictate the decisions in our family lives, our jobs, business, etc; we hate criticism and this individual authoritarianism gives birth to a collective mindset of worshipping dictatorship resulting in a mindset that can easily be influenced by the propaganda based on self created nationalist euphoria and love for the defence establishment.
This matter of the Dawn Leaks could have been handed smoothly, had there been any intention from the defence establishment, as the chief of Army staff could have conveyed a personal message to the defence minister or even Prime Minister that his colleagues are having objections on the notification issued by Nawaz Sharif, hence the PM should address their concerns. But instead of doing that, a tweet was chosen to show dissent and was not only rejecting the notification issued by the Prime Minister but was actually in a sense challenging his authority to govern.
The timing of this message is also important as the current government is already confronted with a hostile opposition and an establishment backed movement. In this pre placed situation watching the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) taking sides with the establishment and calling Sharif a threat to national security is agonising. Both Zulfikar Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto were declared security risks by the establishment at the time, so it was expected that at least the Peoples Party should stand against this self created delusional “threat” to national security propaganda of the defence establishment.
Coming back to the issue, if one buys this agreement that the “Dawn Leaks” was a national security breach then the question arises with regard to the invasion of US troops in Abbottabad and the killing of Osama bin Laden, as there was not a security breach on the part of defence institutions, what was Osama bin Laden doing there? And how come US troops breached all security layers? Was not the massacre of Army public school children in Peshawar the negligence of security agencies? The Kargil misadventure that almost led to a nuclear war between Pakistan and India was not a blunder on the part of the defence institutions? Musharraf‘s safe exit to a foreign land was not a breach of national interest? Not even a single tweet was tweeted on these matters by ISPR, nor a single core commander conference held to settle these issues and fix the responsibility on the culprits.
Thw Dawn Leaks is just an ordinary issue of leaking news to a journalist and it happens everywhere on a regular basis. But the debacle of the 1971 East Pakistan separation was a matter of national interest, the Hamoodur Rahman Commission’s report on the tragedy was never made public nor even a single General was held accountable for the tragedy. In fact Yahya Khan, the then Army chief who was responsible for the fall of Dhaka, was buried in the national flag with full protocol.
American soldiers’ operation in Abbottabad was a real national security breach but not even a single General offered to resign nor was the inquiry report on the incident made public. In the case of the Dawn Leaks, Pervaiz Rashid the ex information minister, Tariq Fatemi the advisor to the PM on foreign affairs and Rao Tehseen, the Prime Minister’s principal secretary have been fired, just because they were civilians and tried to challenge the defence establishment status quo. Not to forget Mushahid Ullah Khan, a close aid of Sharif and a senior politician who was forced to resign from his ministry when he gave a statement to the BBC that the government has proof that Imran Khan‘s sit-in protest of Islamabad was sponsored by a few Generals from the Pakistani Army.
When the people involved in the Kargil mishap, in the Abbottabad incident and in imposing martial law in Pakistan will be brought to justice is a question that will always remain unanswered. Defining “National Interest” and “Patriotism and Treason” Authority, can never be given to a single institution nor can it be accepted. The defence establishment needs to understand that by creating a State within a State they are actually weakening the civil institutions. Countries always progress on the back of strong civilian institutions not on the back of weapons or mighty military force. The process of hijacking the mandate of the electorates with the might of Guns and Boots needs to be stopped.