Nawaz Government and the Pakistan Military: A Note on Current Politics

October 5, 2017 Asia , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan , POLITICS

Reuters photo



Sohail Mahmood


For a number of years the de facto ruler of Pakistan has been the military, the civilian government only effective in its given sphere of running the administration structures.

The current PMLN government is trying to assert civilian supremacy over the military but is failing due to its own weaknesses. The PMLN government lacks the credibility to turn the tables on the military, so to speak.

In 2013 it had an opportunity to do so but failed miserably. No civilian government can do it on its own and needs to adopt a unified approach encompassing all political forces, media and civil society. In principle the civilian control of the military is a fundamental requirement of democracy and the constitutional system. However, given the myriad weaknesses of the civilian government the military has encroached continuously on civilian space. A reversal is possible, though is not at all easy. Pakistan’s democracy is now becoming very problematic, to say the least.

Meanwhile, the performance of the PMLN is dismal at best. Pakistan’s democracy shouldn’t be just about governmental majority. There is a system of checks-and-balances where the judiciary checks the power of executive.

Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power by the Supreme Court of Pakistan very recently in the famous Panama Papers trial but has become the head of his political party again. He is now desperately asserting his power unlike anything seen in Pakistan before. Sharif is now challenging the authority of the Army which controls the real power in the country.

The irony is that he lost the opportunity to do so. He could have put the Army in its proper place as it has no role whatsoever in politics. Nawaz Sharif lost that opportunity and has now lost credibility. It is now too little and too late, so to speak. Matters can go from bad to worse in Pakistan. God forbid, if there is a complete collapse of government, chaos and anarchy in Pakistan would ensue and then the military will take over the country yet again.





Sohail Mahmood

Sohail Mahmood is an independent global affairs analyst and the author of several books, monographs and research articles on Middle East and South Asian politics, governance and development issues. He has taught for about 30 years in various universities of Pakistan and US and has worked as a consultant for the World Bank, CIDA, SDC, IUCN and UNDP. Sohail is married and has two grown sons. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States.

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