Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan for September 2015

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In this Issue:

  1. ‘Anomalous and Untrammeled Role’ of the Defence Housing Authority, Lahore

  2. Pakistan Senate’s Deliberations Upon an Alleged ‘Civil-Military Disconnect/Disequilibrium’

  3. Apparent Erosion of Safeguards Against Military Rule: Has Article 6 of the Constitution Become Ineffective?

  4. Optics of Leadership: Wither the Elected Government?

  5. Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf’s Call for Granting an Extension to Gen. Raheel Sharif

  6. Mr. Imran Khan’s Invitation to the Rangers to Lead Drive Against Corruption in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

  7. Amidst Meetings of the ‘National Apex Committee’, the National Security Committee fails to meet

  8. Premier-COAS Interactions

‘Anomalous and Untrammeled Role’ of the Defence Housing Authority, Lahore

Taking exception to the advertisement issued by the DHA, Lahore for Phase VII although the ownership of the concerned land is under dispute, the Supreme Court conducted a series of hearings on the distinct role the Housing Authority has acquired
.

Since Pakistan’s independence, the nature of civil-military relations in the country has been a particularly peculiar affair, with wide-ranging and multi-faceted debates surrounding it. The existence of various commercial enterprises of the Military is a critical component of this debate. It is often said that these huge conglomerates provide economic power and benefits to senior Military Command and protecting these interests then becomes the major driving force for exercising covert or overt political power and influence. The Military strongly rejects and emphatically states that the funds generated by the commercial concerns are used entirely for welfare measures.

The latest episode related to the Military’s commercial interests was set in the Supreme Court of Pakistan when the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Lahore came under scrutiny. While hearing the Suo Moto Case No. 12 of 2015, the Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court1 adjudicated upon the following salient issues:

  1. A 156 kanal tract of land that DHA, Lahore took possession of, and included in Phase VII, ‘knowing fully well that the persons from whom possession was taken … did not have title and that the said persons were embroiled in litigation with a lady over the land’2.

  2. Continued resistance offered by the DHA, Lahore authorities to an audit to be carried out by the Auditor General of Pakistan.

  3. The overall constitutionality of the legal instruments which serve as the basis for DHA, Lahore; namely, DHA Ordinance of 1999 (issued by the Punjab Government) and the Chief Executive’s Order No. 26 of 2002.3

PILDAT has noted with concern that the consequent orders issued by the Supreme Court are a critical indictment of the ‘anomalous and untrammeled role’ that DHA, Lahore has acquired over time. Some pivotal arguments made by Mr. Shahid Hamid, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, in this regard are worthy of reproduction:

  1. DHA, Lahore exercises most, if not all the powers of the Local Governments but is managed by an unelected Governing Body4 and an Executive Board5 in violation of Article 140A of the Constitution.

  2. The appropriate Legislature in relation to DHA, Lahore, is the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab. The management of the Governing Body and the Executive Board must be changed, as presently it comprises of Army Officers who are not under the administrative control of the Punjab Government.

  3. The ‘unfettered and uncontrolled power’ conferred upon DHA, Lahore under the Chief Executive’s Order No. 26 of 2002 to itself decide its area of operations violates the constitutional rights of the Government of the Punjab.

With regards to the resistance put up by the DHA, Lahore to an audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan, the Supreme Court noted that the Authority does not fall outside the ambit of the Article 170(2) of the Constitution. It therefore stated that the Auditor General is the ‘competent constitutional authority for conducting the audit of DHA’ and should ‘proceed expeditiously to do so’. Similarly, the bench also noted that the advertisement of plots in Phase VII of DHA was also ‘evidently illegal’.

The DHA Lahore, over time, has developed into a modern and sought-after residential area. The Authority however has come under increasing scrutiny due to an apparently unfettered role and alleged violations of the law. These include alleged occupation of 137 canals of land of the Government of Punjab, 64 canals of land allotted by former Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo for settlement of katchi abadi residents, etc.6 The Auditor General Pakistan, Rana Asad Ameen also informed the Supreme Court that his office had written six letters to the DHA, Lahore for carrying out the audit of accounts but its management was not cooperating with them.

Considering all these factors, including alleged illegal occupation of land, aversion to an audit of its accounts by the AGP Office, and unfettered powers bestowed upon the Authority, PILDAT believes that it would in the interest of the armed forces and civil-military relations in Pakistan that the DHA, Lahore makes its workings more transparent. To begin with, the audit of its accounts will enhance its reputation of conformance to rule of law.

Pakistan Senate’s Deliberations Upon an Alleged ‘Civil-Military Disconnect/Disequilibrium’

While debating upon the theme of Public Participation and Democracy on September 15, 2015 (International Democracy Day), two stalwarts of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Senate observed that there was a growing civil-military disconnect in Pakistan. The debate arose when Senator Farhatullah Babar requested admission of an Adjournment Motion to discuss the ‘statement of former Minister Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan alleging involvement of elements of security establishment in political re-engineering of the country’.

Although the request for admission of the Motion was denied by the Honourable Chairman Senate, Senator Farhatullah Babar observed that ‘the civil and the military are not on the same page and there is a serious disconnect between the Civilian Government and the Security Establishment’.7

Honourable Chairman of the Pakistan Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani, on the other hand stated:

Unfortunately, the state of the Federation is in a drift. Although we are in a state of democratic transition, it must also be admitted that there is disequilibrium in civil-military relations. There is a need to address this disequilibrium.8

However, on the occasion, the Honourable Leader of the House, Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq, while representing the Government emphasized that ‘I can confidently say that today civil military relations in Pakistan are in a state where we can say that by the grace of God there is no challenge to democracy’.

It needs to be noted that Pakistan is actively involved in an internal war, along with facing increasing hostilities on its eastern border. Therefore, security remains a primary concern necessitating a proactive role of our Armed Forces, which may lead to a perception of disequilibrium.

Moreover, difference of opinion between the civilian / political and Military leadership, especially during times of war, is not a novel phenomenon even in developed democracies. Consider the case Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former American commander in Afghanistan. In his memoirs, Gen. McChrystal has stated that ‘the beginning of President Obama’s first term saw the emergence of an unfortunate deficit of trust between the White House and the Department of Defense, largely arising from the decision-making process on Afghanistan’ due to which he had to eventually submit his resignation.9

The point to be emphasized is that any difference of opinion should be resolved through existing forums for civil-military leadership’s interaction and coordination, including the increasingly dormant National Security Committee.

Apparent Erosion of Safeguards Against Military Rule: Has Article 6 of the Constitution Become Ineffective?

During the aforementioned debate in the Pakistan Senate on September 15, 2015, revolving around perceived civil-military tensions, the Honourable Chairman of Pakistan Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani made a critical observation related to enforcing Article 6 of the Constitution. He stated:

I believe that Article 6 has become redundant. Our weaknesses have made it redundant. In my eyes, no constitutional clause can protect democracy. Only the people can protect democracy provided they are given ownership of the system.10

The Honourable Chairman Senate went on to propose certain remedies for the evolving civil-military dynamics during a period of democratic transition, which include:

  1. The Parliament ascertaining the nature of civil-military relations and prescribing a subsequent course of action;

  2. Zero tolerance for corruption across the board;

  3. Complete supremacy of the rule of law;

  4. Show of unity by all of Pakistan’s democratic forces, whether they may be the political parties, members of the civil-society, lawyers or intellectuals, so that by building upon the strength of national unity, the Federation may be strengthened.

PILDAT believes that there is significant weight in the observations made by the Honourable Chairman of the Pakistan Senate with regards to implementation of Article 6 of the Constitution. Apparently, Senator Raza Rabbani’s statement alludes to the Treason Trial of the former President, Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf for his imposition of Emergency (de facto Martial Law) in November 2007. The matter till now has been held up not only because of the judicial proceedings, but also because of the flagrant disregard shown by Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf for court proceedings. He has missed multiple appearances in front of the Special Court. In fact, this habit of not appearing before a court of law due to ‘medical reasons’, even though he has not shied away from frequent media appearances, is a mockery of the rule of law.

PILDAT completely agrees with the observations of the Honourable Chairman Senate. Until there is public support and ownership of the Constitution, especially of the Article 6, the civilian elected Governments will remain largely ineffective, and the specter of a military intervention would always loom large. ‘Zero tolerance for corruption’ and ‘Rule of Law’ are certainly two most important pillars which support democracy.

Optics of Leadership: Wither the Elected Government?

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif saying Eid prayers with the troops in Khyber Agency on September 25, 2015.11

The optics generated by the COAS, Gen. Raheel Sharif’s visit to the Khyber Agency to celebrate Eid with the troops on September 25, 2015 were inspirational not only for our Armed Forces, but also for the rest of the nation as we remain actively engaged in a war against terrorism.

PILDAT believes that the Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, MNA had initiated a commendable precedent by visiting North Waziristan on October 09, 2014. However, it was hoped that the elected political leadership could replicate the same for this Eid as well. Leaders of developed nations around the world follow this laudable tradition of joining their troops at the battlefronts on festivities such as Christmas, etc. For instance, the American President Barrack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan between Thanksgiving and Christmas in December 2010 to personally thank the US troops for their services and to boost their morale in the fight against terrorists. It was therefore regrettable that the Honourable Prime Minister chose to travel abroad on the occasion. Earlier, the Prime Minister had spent his Eid ul Fitr as well in Saudi Arabia in stark contrast to the military c

 

References:

1.  The bench for the case comprised of the following:
   i. The then Honourable Chief Justice of the Supreme, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja (now retired)
   ii. Justice Dost Muhammad Khan
   iii. Justice Qazi Faez Isa

2.  The complete text of the Order issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for Suo Moto Case No. 12 of 2015 on September 01, 2015 can be accessed at: http://www.supremecourt.gov.pk/web/user_files/File/s.m.c.12_2015.pdf

3.  A complete copy of the Chief Executive’s Order No. 26 of 2002 can be accessed at: http://nasirlawsite.com/laws/dhalo.htm

4.  The Governing Body of DHA, Lahore comprises the following:

No. Position Official
1. Chairman Secretary, Ministry of Defence
2. Vice Chairman Commander IV Corp (Corp Commander Lahore)
3. Administrator (Appointed by the Chief of Army Staff)
4. Secretary of the Authority
5. Co-opted Civilian Member (1)
6. Co-opted Civilian Member (2)

5.  The Executive Board of DHA, Lahore comprises the following:

No. Position Official
1. President Commander IV Corp (Corp Commander Lahore)
2. Administrator
3. Secretary of the Authority
4. Co-opted Civilian Member (1)
5. Co-opted Civilian Member (2)

6.  For details, please see SC to take up, decide audit immunity cases today, The News, September 08, 2015, as accessed on October 07, 2015 at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-39516-SC-to-take-up-decide-audit-immunity-cases-today

7.  For details, please see a copy of Pakistan Senate’s Hansard for September 15, 2015, which can be accessed at: http://senate.gov.pk/uploads/documents/debates/119/ver15-09-2015.pdf

8.  Ibid.

9.  For details, please see General Details Pentagon Tensions With Obama on Afghanistan, The New York Times, January 05, 2015, as accessed on September 30, 2015 at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/world/asia/mcchrystal-book-details-tensions-with-obama.html?_r=0

10.  For details, please see Safeguards against military rule eroding: Rabbani, Dawn, September 16, 2015, as accessed on September 30, 2015 at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1207272

11.  Picture courtesy the ISPR.

12.  For details, please see Musharraf calls for extending tenure of Gen Raheel Sharif, Dawn, September 18, 2015, as accessed on September 30, 2015 at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1207670

13.  Picture courtesy the Express Tribune

14.  The complete Press Conference of Mr. Imran Khan on September 14, 2015 can be accessed at: http://www.zemtv.com/2015/09/14/imran-khan-press-conference-in-bani-gala-14th-september-2015

15.  For details, please see Top civil-military huddle announces crackdown against sectarianism, The Express Tribune, September 10, 2015, as accessed on September 30, 2015 at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/954284/top-civil-military-huddle-approves-countrywide-crackdown-against-sectarianism

16.  Picture courtesy the ISPR

18.  The meeting was also attended by the Federal Minister for Interior, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, MNA; Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, MNA and the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman, MNA.

19.  The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister of Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, MNA; Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar; the Federal Minister for Interior, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, MNA; Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Security and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz; Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tariq Fatemi; Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen. Rashad Mahmood; the remaining two Services Chiefs and DG SPD. For details, please see the Press Release issued by the ISPR on September 09, 2015, which can be accessed at:


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