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> 15th Sitting of the Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations
   
 
DGCMR Meeting
February 28, 2008
Islamabad

   

  • Election results help improve civil-military relations.
  • Political and democratic authority alone is legitimate custodian of State affairs
  • Strategic changes required in internal and external policies
  • Concern expressed at reports of involvement of Federally-controlled organisations and agencies in pre-election and election day rigging in Balochistan and Sindh.
  • Call to end confinement and harassment of Chief Justice and President, SCBA

 
 

The 15th sitting of the Dialogue Group on Civil Military Relations, a Group facilitated by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency – PILDAT, was held in Islamabad on February 28, 2008. Former Senator & Federal Minister Javed Jabbar presided over the meeting.

 
 

Names of participants of the 15th meeting are listed below:

In the specific context of civil-military relations in Pakistan, the Group held a comprehensive discussion on the results of the elections of February 18 and the evolving post-election scenario.

 
 

The Group applauded the people of Pakistan for the courage and clarity with which they have expressed their strong preference for a progressive, forward-looking Pakistan firmly based on Constitutionalism and the rule of law, rather than on the rule of force.

 
 

The Group noted that the conduct of the polls and the poll results represented a notable step towards separating the civil and political spheres from the military sphere.

 
 

The Group appreciated, in principle, the role played by the law enforcement system, particularly the Armed Forces, in ensuring that the polling was held, by and large, in peaceful conditions. Participants regretted the tragic loss of lives and injuries suffered during the election phase.

 
 

At the same time, based on reliable, verified reports from parts of Balochistan and Sindh, the Group noted with concern that law enforcement organisations under the Federal Government and others under the Provincial Governments which had been directed to strictly refrain from any involvement in pre-election rigging or in the polling process, did interfere in both phases in certain constituencies.

 
 

It was reported that these organisations helped distribute funds to “favoured” candidates before the elections and “facilitated” certain candidates and parties on election day itself.

 
 

Either by, in certain situations, “looking the other way” whereas their duty required them to enforce the law, or by their overt involvement, these organisations permitted highly irregular actions to occur. Though irregularities also occurred in Punjab and NWFP, the over-all reports about Punjab and NWFP were far better than reports about Balochistan and Sindh.

The Group was of the view that all those who command the organisations in the law enforcement system, both civil and military, have a duty to ensure that their directives are actually implemented in practice in all parts of Pakistan.

Reiterating the critical importance of restoring the superior judiciary to the pre-3rd November 2007 status, the Group condemned the continued detention of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his family including his children who are being deprived of basic facilities and freedoms as also the continued house arrest of leadership of lawyers' community. Members called for an immediate end to all such unlawful confinements and harassment.

With regard to the political situation in the context of civil-military relations, the Group emphasised the need for convening the legislatures and the formation of governments to proceed as per global norms of democracy and as per universally-recognised constitutional principles without covert interference or manipulation by any State organisation or intelligence agencies.

Members unanimously agreed that the election results are an imperative for the recognition of the supremacy of civil, political and democratic authority in all affairs of the State and that the military should focus exclusively on the immense responsibility of preserving the State’s territorial integrity and to supporting the civil system of governance when called upon to do so.

In view of the formidable challenges that await the new governments shortly to be formed at the Centre and in the Provinces, the Group emphasized that while acceptance of the election results by all concerned reflected unprecedented goodwill, the formation of coalitions or consensus governments is merely the first vital response that is required.

Both in domestic and in external policies, Pakistan requires a new strategic direction. It is earnestly hoped that the new elected dispensation is able to demonstrate that democracy is the best guarantee of national security and that the campaign to curb extremism and eliminate terrorism can only be effectively conducted under civil and political leadership.

Names of participants in the meeting include Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Former Governor/Corps Commander Quetta; Lt. General (Retd.) Asad Durrani, Former DG ISI/MI; Lt. Gen. (Retd) Jamshed Gulzar, Former Chairman FPSC; Mr. Javed Jabbar, Former Senator & Minister; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor/Interior Minister; Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Pakistan; Dr. Parvez Hassan, Partner Hassan & Hassan Advocates; Mr. Rustam Shah Mohmand, Former Chief Secretary; Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Former Senator & Minister; Mr. Shahid Hamid, Former Governor Punjab; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Talat Masood, Former Federal Secretary/Defence Analyst; Mr. Tasneem Noorani, Former Federal Secretary Interior; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT.