Why Pakistan is still run by the army

A blog post from the Economist explains what Pakistan is still run by the armed forces.

It opens “PAKISTAN’s civilian and military elite are forever jetting off to Dubai. But the routine Emirates flight that took off from Karachi last month was notable for the presence of Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former president, sitting in the well-upholstered seats in the front. For three years he had been banned from travel while facing a charge of high treason, initiated by the government, and numerous other cases launched against him after he returned from self-exile in 2013. But the government finally agreed to let him travel abroad, supposedly for medical reasons. That prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the victim of Mr Musharraf’s 1999 coup, finally agreed to take the ex-army chief off the “exit control list” was the final, humiliating confirmation that the government has failed to claw power back from Pakistan’s almighty military”.

The piece goes on, “Although once a creature of a former military ruler, Mr Sharif had become convinced the generals must be sent back to barracks by the seven years he spent in exile in Saudi Arabia and London following the toppling of his second government. In May 2013, when Mr Sharif returned to power for the third time, it seemed he might just succeed. He had won a landslide election victory. The army’s reputation was still tarnished by the Musharraf years and other humiliations, including the discovery that former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden had been hiding in spitting distance of the army’s officer training academy. The decision to order a special prosecution of Mr Musharraf (not for the 1999 coup but for a short period of emergency rule in 2007) was a bold move. For an ex-army chief to appear in court, let alone be convicted of a capital offence, would have been a historic assertion of civilian power”.

The article adds “The army fought back with a series of security and health scares to frustrate efforts to bring Mr Musharraf to court—although he did finally make an appearance in February 2014. Soon afterwards the ruling party was caught in the crossfire of a fight between the army and Geo, a broadly pro-government channel that publicly accused the military’s spy master of plotting the attempted assassination of one of its top journalists. More important was the appointment of a new army chief in November 2013. Not only is General Raheel Sharif untainted by the Musharraf years but he has gradually eclipsed the prime minister in public esteem after launching a major military campaign against domestic militants that led to a slump in terror attacks. He was also credited with saving Mr Sharif’s government by refusing to back the mass street protests by opposition groups that hit Islamabad in the autumn of 2014. Realising he cannot govern without the army Mr Sharif appears to have accepted a joint-rule with his (unrelated) namesake. But although the two Sharifs confer regularly and often appear together at public events, continuing friction is inevitable. The relationship took a dive last month after the Taliban bombing of a Lahore park that killed 72. General Sharif seized the opportunity to try and take control of security of Mr Sharif’s home province of Punjab. The prime minister is still resisting, for now”.

Of course the article does not mention that this logic is circular, there is terrorism so the army is needed, but the army causes terrorism so the army is needed. This circle must be broken to save Pakistan.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: