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> Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | March 2017
   
 
CMR Monitor
April 18, 2017
Islamabad

   

This monitor is meant to identify key developments during the month on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan and around the world. In this issue:
  1. ISPR Statement on NAP: A Change in Style?
  2. PTI Chairman Mr. Imran Khan’s Meeting with the COAS
  3. Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif’s Joining of the "Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism"
  4. Revival of Military Courts
  5. Former Ambassador Haqqani’s Remarks, the Media Furor, and the Military breaking its silence over it
  6. Perks of Generals and Government Officials not revealed to the Parliament
  7. Prime Minister Sharif’s Revelations about Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf
  8. Premier-COAS interactions
  9. Lebanon: Military Courts back down
  10. Philippines: Joint Civil Relations Committee
  11. United States: President Trump Reorganized Structure of the National Security Council

 

ISPR Statement on NAP:A Change in Style?

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Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa chairing the 200th Corps Commander Conference in Rawalpindi

On March 9, 2017, the 200th Corps Commanders Conference took place that was presided by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the General Head Quarters in Rawalpindi. After the meeting, an ISPR statement quoted: “Forum concluded that through Operation RuF, implementation of NAP needs to be expedited jointly/by respective stakeholders for lasting peace and stability in the country.”

While some sections of the media portrayed this statement by the ISPR as an expression of the military voicing its concerns with the civilian Government,1 we at PILDAT believe that nothing in the statement implies civil military divergence. On the contrary, the statement espoused the principle of shared responsibility of the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP), and this is the direction towards which both the civilian and the military Government may be turning.

Furthermore, this ISPR Press Release may be contrasted with the ISPR Press Release of November 10, 2015, which, on the topic of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and implementation of National Action Plan ‘underlined the need for matching/complimentary governance initiatives for long term gains of operation and enduring peace across the country.’2 The intent of apportioning responsibility in that Press Release is clearly visible and it is a welcome development that the military and the civilian Government have come this far from that relationship.

PILDAT believes that the following salient points need to be considered in this regard:

  1. While the message of shared responsibility is well received, it must be noted that public statements of such kind have little practical value. It would be better if both the civilian Government and the military leadership used relevant formal channels to communicate on national security issues. Hence, it is welcome news that a meeting of civil-military leadership took place on March 13, 2017 at the Prime Minister House presided by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. As per the Press Release by the Prime Minister Office, at the meeting ‘it was decided to further energize efforts on implementation of National Action Plan and ensure better implementation of NAP by Federal/Provincial governments’.3 This reconciliatory tone by the civilian Government suggests that civil-military relations are on the right track. It may here, however, be emphasized that the forum of National Security Committee needs to be activated for civil-military consultation of this nature.
  2. While it is true that civil military relations in Pakistan have a certain history that leads to different sections of the media closely analyzing statements coming from either quarter to see if those signal any civil-military friction, however, care must be taken to not construe anodyne statements as something more than what they actually are.

PTI Chairman Mr. Imran Khan’s Meeting with the COAS

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PTI Chairman Mr. Imran Khan and COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa

The meeting of Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Mr. Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, on March 31, 2017 was announced through a tweet by the ISPR. It stated, ‘Chairman PTI Imran Khan called on COAS. Imran Khan felicitated COAS on his prom and appointment. Various issues came under discussion.’4

The peculiarity of the meeting between the Chief of Army Staff and the head of a political party was only matched by the opaqueness of what was discussed in it. When asked to comment on it, Mr. Khan’s vague remarks stating that Gen. Bajwa ‘stands by democracy’5 muddied matters even further.

The meeting attracted attention from different sections of the media and it is natural that people started asking questions and even engaged in speculations as to why this meeting was felt necessary. Unless some new information suggests otherwise, we feel that it is ordinarily not desirable for COAS to hold meetings with party chiefs. If it was something to do with the KP Government where Mr. Imran Khan’s party rules, the right approach should have been to deal with the Provincial Chief Minister instead. If these meetings become a new normal, it will be very difficult to avoid meeting other political leaders and each such meeting will generate unnecessary controversies.

Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif’s Joining of the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism

On March 25, 2017, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, MNA, Federal Minister for Defence, revealed that the Government’s consent on Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif’s appointment as head of the 39-member Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) had been conveyed to the Saudi Government in writing.6 This categorical statement may be in contrast with his earlier two vacillating statements on the same matter.

On January 06, 2017 during an interview on Geo TV, Khawaja Asif said that Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif’s appointment as head of the 39-member IMAFT had been finalized7 while in the Senate on January 10, 2017, he had said that the Government was unaware of any such development and neither had Gen. (Retd.) Sharif requested an NOC from the Government.8

This time, the news of Gen. (Retd.) Sharif’s appointment to the IMAFT came from a close associate of his, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Ijaz Awan, who revealed that the Government had issued a no-objection certificate to Gen. (Retd.) Sharif.9

Revival of Military Courts

The revival of military courts for another two years for trying civilian suspects involved in terrorism has taken place through the passage of the Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan and Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2017.

23rd Amendment to the Constitution

Date Introduced

Date Passed

National Assembly of Pakistan

March 10, 2017

March 21, 2017

Senate of Pakistan

March 21, 2017

March 28, 2017

 

Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2017

Date Introduced

Date Passed

National Assembly of Pakistan

March 10, 2017

March 21, 2017

Senate of Pakistan

March 21, 2017

March 22, 2017

The Government introduced the Twenty-eighth Amendment to the Constitution bill (passed as the Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan) and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2017 bill in the National Assembly on March 10, 2017, which passed them on March 21, 2017. The same two bills were introduced in the Senate on March 21, 2017, with the Senate passing the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2017 on March 22, 2017 and the Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan on March 28, 2017, and the bills becoming Acts of Parliament on March 30, 2017 with the assent of President Mamnoon Hussain.

In the National Assembly, the total time taken to debate the two bills was approximately 6 hours10 over a period of 2 days, while in the Senate it was approximately 4 hours 17 minutes over a period of 2 days.11

Interestingly, unlike in the past, the passage of the two amendments this time was not unanimous either in the Senate or the National Assembly. In the National Assembly, four MNAs voted against the bills,12 while in the Senate, PkMAP voted against the bills while the JUI-F abstained in both the houses.13

While the atmosphere of urgency surrounding the passage of the two bills was understandable, it is still unfortunate that proper deliberations on the bills did not take place on the floor of the two houses of the Parliament. Moreover, there is no visible evidence to suggest that relevant standing committees, particularly the Parliamentary Committees on Law and Justice, the Parliamentary Committees on Interior and the Parliamentary Committees on Defence in the two houses, discharged their duties of properly vetting the proposed legislations.

Haqqani’s Remarks, the Media Furor, and the Military breaking its silence over it

Former Ambassador Hussain Haqqani’s article titled ‘Yes, the Russian ambassador met Trump. So? That’s what we diplomats do’ published in the Washington Post on March 10, 2017 generated its fair share of controversy in Pakistan. Among other things, Mr. Haqqani had revealed in the article that with the permission of the civilian Government, he helped in the stationing of U.S. Special Operations and intelligence personnel in Pakistan, who later proved to be ‘invaluable when Obama decided to send in Navy SEAL Team 6 without notifying Pakistan14 in order to capture the most wanted terrorist at that time, Osama bin Laden, who was behind the September 11 Attacks.

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Former Ambassador Hussain Haqqani accompanying then President Asif Zardari to a meeting in the Oval Office on December 14, 2011 with the then President Barrack Obama and Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton

Given that the article implied a disjunction between the civilian Government and the military leadership at the time along with what has been construed as allegations against the then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari, the article merited a strong response from the Government, which came in the form of Federal Minister for Defence, Khawaja Asif’s comments on March 15, 2017 in the National Assembly. Mr. Asif characterized Mr. Haqqani’s claims in the article as ‘a matter of national security’ and ‘a breach of the highest level’15 while also proposing the setting up of a parliamentary commission to probe the claims. Even the Pakistan People’s Party expressed its support for the parliamentary commission along with the other political parties in the House.16

Despite such an unequivocal response from the country’s political leadership over Mr. Haqqani’s claim, the military also decided to weigh in on the matter. On March 29, 2017, ISPR tweeted: ‘views of Husain Haqqani published in mainstream US newspaper, especially his account on issue of visas, vindicate stance of Pakistan’s state institutions,’ and ‘the veracity of concerns about his role in the entire issue also stands confirmed.’17It is not clear as to why ISPR felt the need of commenting on the subject while the Government had already commented on the subject.

Perks of Generals and Government Officials not revealed to the Parliament

While the Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Mr. Zahid Hamid, MNA, has revealed the pension amounts and perks of judges of the Superior Courts in a question answer session in the Senate on March 21, 201718, the Parliament, according to news reports, has still not received data on similar questions pertaining to the Armed Forces officials or Government Officers of BPS 21 and above.19

Prime Minister Sharif’s Revelations about Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf

On March 21, 2017, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif stated that Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf offered him a secret deal back in the year 2007 to form a joint Government with him in 2008; he had declined that offer.20

The timing of Prime Minister Sharif’s revelations of a bygone era is puzzling to say the least, and it invites the question as to why he felt the need to share this information now.

Premier-COAS Interactions

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chairing a high level meeting at the PM House in Islamabad on March 03, 2017

In the month of March 2017, the Prime Minister and the COAS met a total of two times:

  1. The first meeting took place on March 03, 2017 at the Prime Minister House to review progress of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Interior, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, MNA; Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar; Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz; National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Nasser Khan Janjua, and Director General Inter Services Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar, along with other senior civil and military officials.21
  2. The second meeting took place ten days later on March 13, 2017 at the Prime Minister House in which progress on Operation Radd-ul-Fassad and the National Action Plan was discussed. The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Interior, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, MNA; Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar; Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, MPA; Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz; National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Nasser Khan Janjua, and Director General Inter Services Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar, along with other senior civil and military officials.22

While Federal Minister of Defence was not part of both the meetings, it must also be noted that no meeting of the National Security Committee took place during the month of March 2017.

 

International Developments Affecting Civil-Military Relations Across the World

Lebanon: Military Courts back down

On March 20, 2017, the people of Lebanon welcomed the news of a Military Tribunal declaring that it does not have jurisdiction to try 14 civilian protesters and would refer their cases to civilian courts instead.23

Back in 2015, these protesters were arrested on the charges of rioting and destruction of property during their demonstrations over a waste management crisis in Beirut.

A temporary law issued in 1958 had temporarily granted these military courts large prerogatives. However, this temporary law of 1958 is still enforced having broad jurisdiction over civilians including children.

 

Philippines: Joint Civil Relations Committee

On April 7, 2017, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) signed a Joint Letter Directive creating the Joint AFP-PNP Civil Relations Committee (JAPCRC) at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.24

This committee will coordinate and synchronize the military’s civil-military operations and the police’s community relations and better implement peace and development programmes particularly in conflict-affected communities.

The committee will also recommend areas where the AFP or the PNP should take the lead or play a supporting role in the conduct of joint civil relations activities. It will also coordinate the civil relations aspects of all AFP-PNP law enforcement, internal security and counter-terrorism efforts.

Following activities will be carried out under this new effort: strategic crisis communications; creation of joint quick response teams during emergencies; conduct of joint training activities, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering civic action projects; and joint humanitarian civic assistance.

 

United States: President Trump Reorganized Structure of the National Security Council


US President Donald Trump

The President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, issued a presidential order on January 28, 2017 that reorganized the US National Security Council.

The reorganization involves two basic changes. First, the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and the Director of National Intelligence, both of whom were permanent attendees of the Principals Committee of the NSC during Obama’s presidency, are now turned into members whose presence is only required ‘where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.’25 Second, the Chief Political Strategist of President Trump has been included as ‘attendee(s) to any NSC meeting’26 while also making him a ‘regular attendee’27 of the NSC Principals Committee. It may be noted that the inclusion of the Chief Political Strategist in the NSC and its Principals Committee does not find precedence during both Mr. Barrack Obama and Mr. George W. Bush’s presidencies.

The Principals Committee of the NSC is chaired by the National Security Advisor or the Homeland Security Advisor28 and ‘it is the ‘senior interagency forum for considering policy issues that affect the national security interests of the United States.’29 In light of this, making the presence of military officials in the Principals Committee optional is being seen as a subtle way of prioritizing civilian influence over expert military advice. 30

Furthermore, the inclusion of the Chief Political Strategist of President Trump into the NSC and his mandated regular presence in the Principals Committee of the NSC appears to send the signal that political considerations may weigh in heavily in matters of national security and that the status of the Chief Political Strategist would be equal to President Trump’s cabinet members. 31

 

References

 

1. For example Dawn’s Editorial published on March 11, 2017 stated, ‘this public statement by the military ‘made clear that one side believes it is doing more than the other.’ The Editorial can be accessed at:
https://www.dawn.com/news/1319654/nap-implementation
.

3. The PMO Press Release can be accessed at:
http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=1733

5. Good news that COAS stands by democracy, Dawn, April 01, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1324184/good-news-that-coas-stands-by-
democracy-imran-says-after-meeting-gen-bajwa

6. Raheel Sharif may assume command of Saudi-led force next month, Dawn, March 26, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1322891

7. Raheel Sharif appointed chief of Islamic military alliance, confirms Khawaja Asif, Dawn, January 08, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1306798

8. N0 NOC requested by Raheel Sharif for appointment as chief of Islamic military alliance: Khawaja Asif, Dawn, January 11, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1307771/no-noc-requested-by-raheel-sharif-for-appointment-as-
chief-of-islamic-military-alliance-khawaja-asif

9. Raheel Sharif appointed chief of Islamic military alliance, confirms Khawaja Asif, Dawn, January 08, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1306798
 

10. According to the data published by Free & Fair Election Network the sitting of the National Assembly lasted for 3 hours and 18 minutes on March 21, 2017. This was the day on which the National Assembly debated and passed the Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2017. The 23rd constitutional amendment act was also debated in the National Assembly on March 20, 2017 for 2 hours and 42 minutes as per FAFEN. The data on the National Assembly sitting of March 21, 2017 can be accessed at:
http://openparliament.pk/na-passes-military-courts-legislation-with-majority-vote/

11. The Senate on March 22, 2017 debated on the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2017 and Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution for 2 hours and 27 minutes as per data published by Free & Fair Election Network at:
http://openparliament.pk/senate-approves-pakistan-army-amendment-bill/
 

Moreover, on March 28, 2017 the debate on Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan started at approximately 03:00 PM and lasted till 04: 50 PM as per the Senate Hansard of the same date, which can be accessed at:
http://www.senate.gov.pk/uploads/documents/debates/1490777018_613.pdf
.  

12. National Assembly votes overwhelmingly in favour of military courts, Dawn, March 21, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1321945/national-assembly-votes-overwhelmingly-in-favour-of-military-courts

13. Senators okay mly courts amendment amid much lament, Dawn, March 29, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1323511/senators-okay-mly-courts-amendment-amid-much-lament

14. Yes, the Russian ambassador met Trump’s team. So? That’s what we diplomats do, The Washigton Post, March 10, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/10/yes-the-russian-ambassador-met-trumps-team-so-thats-what-we-diplomats-do/?utm_term=.a3d33ba0bee2

15. PPP backs govt proposal to probe Haqqani’s claims, Dawn, March 16, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1320760

16. ibid.

19. Parliament awaits data about perks of generals, officials, Dawn, March 27, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1323051

20. Musharraf offered me a deal in 2007, says Nawaz, Dawn, March 22, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.dawn.com/news/1322105

21. The Press Release of the PMO for the meeting can be accessed at:
http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=1723

22. The Press Release of the meeting issued by PMO can be accessed at:
http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=1733

23. Lebanon Military Court Backs Down on Waste Protesters, Human Rights Watch, March 20, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/20/lebanon-military-court-backs-down-waste-protesters

24. AFP, PNP create Joint Civil Relations Committee, Manila Bulletin, April 9, 2017, as accessed on April 10, 2017 at
http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/04/09/afp-pnp-create-joint-civil-relations-committee/

26. ibid.

27. ibid.

28. ibid.

29. ibid.