Is Civil Supremacy a Realistic Objective?
From 1947 to 07 October 1958, it was the reign of civil supremacy. In this short period of 11 years under civil supremacy, seven prime ministers were changed, and one of the Prime Ministers I.I. Chundrigar stayed only for 2 months. There is well known saying (wrong or right) that PM Nehru, when asked to talk to Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute reply, was with which PM I should talk because in Pakistan PM is changed earlier than I change my Dhooti.
It was 7 Oct 1958 when Governor General Iskander Mirza got fed up due to the failure of politicians in running the government dissolved the assembly and imposed martial law and appointed Gen Ayyub C-in-C Pakistan Army as Chief Martial Law Administrator. That was the beginning to share civil supremacy with the army.
Notwithstanding whether it was a military ruler or an elected ruler performance of a military ruler has always been better. All military rulers right from Gen Ayyub to Gen Musharraf were welcomed by the general public and there were great celebrations throughout Pakistan, sweets were distributed at most places all over the country except the party that was removed. To be very frank there has never been any military coup in Pakistan, it has always been a smooth military takeover without firing a bullet. The greatest blunder of military rulers has been inviting politicians to join them to avoid criticism and legitimize their takeovers.
There has always been a mad race among politicians belonging to different parties to be partners of military rulers except for a few who were removed during the takeover. It happened with all the military rulers who ultimately were trapped by politicians and forced them out of power. Since politicians worked very closely with military rulers they knew their good and bad points and weaknesses. This helped both sides to exploit each other suiting to their convenience.
With the passage of time, a nexus emerged between civil and military. The politicians always tried to remain close to the military to get their help when needed. The majority of the politicians would fix the marriage dates of their children depending upon the availability of the military rulers to ensure their presence, I am a witness this when a politician came to Military Secretary to President Zia to check his availability. Later on, I was told that it was a routine matter.
Apart from this in each election politicians would request the military to help them and yield their influence to ensure their victory. Under such a situation when politicians need military crutches to meet success, how they can dream to have the upper hand or so-called supremacy.
Unfortunately over the years majority of the politicians instead of making laws to redress the difficulties of the masses in general and working out a solution to their problems within parliament placed maximum reliance on courts and establishment this rendered parliament dysfunctional. Under such circumstances how can you achieve supremacy.
All prime ministers except those serving under dictators placed maximum reliance on the establishment and kept them happy by appointing serving and retired officers on key appointments that have remained the exclusive domain of bureaucracy. This was intentionally done to indulge in corruption and get away. Laws were made that were friendly to the elite but very quick to fix poor people. This created two classes of people extremely rich and extremely poor. Civil Supremacy
Since people have never been a priority civilian rulers failed to strengthen institutions resulting in bad governance and sought the help of the establishment and involved them in their politics to get favors without realizing that over-dependence was weakening their writ. Take the case of the police of all the provinces instead of increasing their strength and combat capabilities and arming them with modern weapons preferred to seek the help of Rangers and FC and finally became dependent on them to maintain law and order situation in the shape of the permanent feature. This happened when Article 245 exists where civil administration can always request the federal government to help them control the law and order situations whenever it gets out of control. Civil Supremacy
Just to recall for information to everyone for even those tasks that could easily be carried out by the administration help of the army was sought.
To catch dacoits-call the army, To check smuggled vehicles-call the army, To control rioting-call the army, To control earthquake tragedy-call the army, To clamp curfew-call the army, To control ethnic violence- call the army, To overpower high jackers-call the army, To hold census-call the army, To organize Asian games-call the army, To control sectarian violence-call the army, To rescue train disaster-call the army, To control strike-call the army, To fight terrorists- call the army, To hold elections and by elections-call the army, To protect red zone-call the army. To distribute ration to the poor- call the army. To bring the business community under the tax net- call the army. To control floods- call the army. The list is unending, and if something goes wrong just blame the army.
Let us be frank in accepting that to control the above works huge departments have been established and each year a large chunk of the budget is spent on all these establishments but their output is zero. If this is a state of governance how you can think and talk of civil supremacy we all must have heard a repeated sentence by all democratic prime ministers’ army and the government is on one page. The question arises if it is true why it must be expressed as such.
All three services come under the ministry of defence headed by the defence minister who is not seen anywhere on defence matters but is present everywhere and apparently has no role to play. When there is a question of national security, its parameters are decided by the establishment, whereas it is the exclusive domain of the prime minister. Civil Supremacy
It must be categorically stated that outside the world the perception developed is that it is the establishment that is to be taken into confidence.
Over the years we all must have witnessed that all important dignitaries invariably call on COAS in GHQ to discuss important issues and bilateral relations. The nation is witnessing grand Tamasha on selecting the next COAS.
It is more than three months of debate going on in the media about who will be the next chief. All anchors discuss and debate this matter openly and give their opinion on who could be the next army chief without knowing the system, by the way how the issue of appointing COAS can be discussed in the open when everything is written in the constitution of Pakistan? There are SOPs to take care of such issues. Civil Supremacy
For a moment think about it why it happens. It happens because politicians have made this issue the only important issue in the country. We hear two statements one from the PM and the other from the minister of defence. PM rightly says it is his prerogative to select a new army chief out of 3 to 5 names submitted by the ministry of defence received from GHQ, the defence minister says the selection will be made as per the constitution of Pakistan. Civil Supremacy
The question arises why in the first instance it should be discussed in media. There is a set procedure and SOP on the subject. It is our folly that we have unnecessarily created hype of a routine matter that needs no discussion in open whatsoever. In India, two-liner news appears 2 to 3 months in advance so and so shall be the next boss of the army. Civil Supremacy
The best solution to the problem is to go by seniority no one will have any objection. We must all remember whenever COAS is appointed he represents Pakistan and not any Political Party. Civil Supremacy
Unfortunately, our politicians themselves have made this appointment so strong that has given a jolt to their supremacy over the government the establishment has now become so strong that its sphere of influence cannot be reduced and it shall continue to dominate. The question arises of how to reduce and overcome this inadequacy. It is not rocket science. Civil Supremacy
Bring an end to corruption and improve upon governance bringing everyone under the same law without any selective accountability and institutional distinction. Lastly, just mind your own business without interfering with others, this is the key to success provided by someone. Civil Supremacy Civil Supremacy