PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | August 2018

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This monitor is meant to identify key developments during the month on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments included occasionally.

In this Issue:

  1. Miramshah Incident
  2. Prime Minister Visits GHQ
  3. COAS Visits South Waziristan
  4. 212th Corps Commanders’ Conference
  5. COAS meets Foreign Diplomats & Military Officials
  6. Army Public Relations and Development Activities
  7. COAS Confirms Death Sentences of Terrorists
  8. PM-COAS interactions
  9. UN Investigators call for Prosecution of Myanmar Army Chief
  10. Sri Lanka’s top military officer ordered to be arrested in connection with illegal abduction and murder

Miramshah Incident

Mr. Mohsin Dawar, MNA, addressing protestors in Miramshah, North Waziristan

According to media reports, Security forces allegedly opened fire to disperse protestors in Dattakhel Tehsil in the North Waziristan Tribal District on August 24. Some alleged that the firing resulted in the death of a protestor and injured ten others but ISPR denied the allegations. The protestors took to the streets after the security forces made arrests in connection with an IED blast the day before, which claimed the life of a soldier and injured three others. After the incident, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7th Division, Major General Mumtaz Hussain, visited the hospital to inquire about the condition of the wounded and announced compensation for the deceased and the injured.[1]

The incident, however, sparked further protests in Miramshah, led by the newly elected MNA, Mr. Mohsin Dawar, against alleged state action. The protest ended after three days when Mr. Dawar tweeted that “After successful negotiations, #MiranshahSitIn has been postponed. #ThankYou Waziristan.[2] The VoA (Voice of America) DEEWA reported that Mr. Dawar announced an end to North Waziristan sit-in following assurances to court martial a captain whose firing allegedly resulted in the death of a boy during the protest.[3] However, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor was quick to contest the claim on Twitter saying that “While an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain facts, no assurance given for any court martial. No one was killed/injured by Forces…[4]

The tweet led to Twitter spat between DG ISPR and Mr. Dawar who accused him of following a “tradition of backtracking after an admission of guilt.[5] DG ISPR later responded from his personal Twitter account saying that “We don’t backtrack. We don’t mince words. There is no guilt in serving this great nation and the brave people of Waziristan. Truth can’t be hidden. And soon you shall see it coming out about all the ‘inimical forces.’ We shall not allow anyone to reverse the gains of peace iA.”[6] Mr. Dawar tweeted that “There is nothing peaceful about imposing curfews on IDPs & killing protestors exercising their basic rights. There is nothing “inimical” about demanding our rights enshrined in [the] constitution. [The] truth will come out when causes of militancy will [be] investigated.”[7]

The Daily Times in its editorial on August 27 lamented the lack of sensitivity training to deal with civilian protest as it commented that “when the question of civilian lives is at stake — then mistakes or pre-emptive behaviour cannot hold priority.” [8] The editorial also noted the media blackout of the sit-in protest in Miramshah, which was ignored by major newspapers and news channels.[9]

Prime Minister Visits GHQ

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairing the meeting at the GHQ

The newly-elected Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan, visited the General Headquarters (GHQ) – the headquarter of Pakistan Army – on August 30, 2018 alongside Federal Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Information, the reportedly designated Minister of State for Interior (who later took oath) and Federal Secretary Defence. The ISPR reported that the Premier and Ministers were given detailed briefings on Pakistan’s security environment, threat spectrum, and response. They were also given updates on Pakistan Army’s campaign against terrorism, ongoing operation RuF, Karachi situation and Khushhal Balochistan programme.[10]

Reportedly, Prime Minister Khan greatly appreciated the conduct, capacity, and sacrifices of the Armed Forces in the war on terror. He assured that the Government would provide all required resources to maintain [the] capability and capacity of the Army.

Comparing the briefings received at the GHQ by Premier Khan, who received security briefing at the GHQ within a fortnight of assuming office, and his predecessors, Dawn reported that as Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif only received a security briefing after 5 months of assuming office; PM Abbasi only got to visit the Joint Staff Headquarters after 8 months in office while Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was given security briefing at the GHQ after 2 months in office.[11] However, early visit of PM Imran Khan to GHQ may not necessarily have any specific meaning or message. It may be that the other Prime Ministers indicated their desire or responded to the invitation in their own time. Paying attention to security matters as manifested by his visit so early in his term is a welcome sign of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dynamism.

Media also reported that in recent history, Mr. Khan is the only premier to have chaired the meeting at the GHQ while previous Prime Ministers had to co-chair meetings alongside the COAS.[12]

Photo from ISPR shows former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani co-chairing a briefing with former COAS Gen. Kayani on May 15, 2008.[13]

Federal Minister for Information, Mr. Fawad Chaudhry, quoted COAS Bajwa by saying that “There is perception that Army interferes in the civilian affairs, but please be rest assured, the Army will function like any other government institution.”[14] Mr. Chaudhry later claimed on a TV show that “This time both the civil and military leadership are on one page and share the same book.”[15]

COAS Visits South Waziristan

COAS meeting tribal elders in Waziristan on August 29

Chief of Army Staff visited South Waziristan on August 29. He was briefed about stabilisation operations and progress of fencing alongside Pakistan Afghanistan border in Waziristan at Angoor Adda. Periodic visits to monitor the progress of fencing project indicate the high priority, which the State attaches to the project and is admirable.

COAS Gen Bajwa at combined Jirga of elders from Waziristan on August 29

He also addressed combined Jirga of elders from North and South Waziristan at Wana. The ISPR reported that the tribal elders thanked COAS for the restoration of peace in the area, merger of FATA into KP, ongoing efforts for socio-economic development in the area and assured him of their support. They also highlighted the lack of vital infrastructure in FATA including electricity, water, educational institutions, and upgraded cellular network facilities. The COAS said that no conflict ends through ‘kinetic operations’ alone.[16]

The COAS visit came amid heightened tensions in Waziristan, which saw hundreds on the streets to protest certain aspects of the conduct of law enforcement agencies in the war-torn area. Newly Elected MNAs from Waziristan, Mr. Ali Wazir and Mr. Mohsin Dawar were not present in the Jirga.

212th Corps Commanders’ Conference

COAS presiding over 212th Corps Commanders’ Conference at GHQ on August 1

212th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ on August 1, 2018, and presided by the COAS. The ISPR reported that the forum reviewed geo-strategic environment, regional peace and internal security situation of the country. The COAS directed commanders to continue consolidating the gains of efforts against terrorism and militancy. They expressed satisfaction on the progress of military-level engagements with Afghanistan for regional peace especially through Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace & Stability (APAPPS).

The COAS appreciated efforts of Army Elections Support Centre (AESC) and field formations for assisting the Election Commission of Pakistan as per the assigned mandate for the conduct of Election. The forum thanked brave people of Pakistan for their participation and whole-hearted support for the Armed Forces during the performance of their duty towards the national cause.[17]

COAS meets Foreign Diplomats & Military Officials

The COAS continued to hold interactions with foreign diplomats and visiting dignitaries during the month. Below are the highlights:

Kazakh Ambassador calling on the COAS at the GHQ on Aug 2

1. Mr. Barlybay Sadykov, Ambassador of Republic of Kazakhstan, called on the COAS at the GHQ on August 2, 2018. The ISPR reported that matters of mutual interest including regional security issues were discussed during the meeting.[18]

Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation with COAS on August 7

2. Colonel General Alexander V. Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, visited Pakistan and called on the COAS at the GHQ on August 7, 2018. Regional security situation and matters of mutual interest including enhancement of bilateral defence and security cooperation were discussed.[19]

Commander Chinese People’s Armed Police Force calling on COAS on August 13

3. General Wang Ning, Commander Chinese People’s Armed Police Force, visited the GHQ and called on the COAS on August 13, 2018. Matters related to regional security and professional interest were discussed during the meeting.[20]

Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman with the COAS in Mina, KSA, on August 21

4. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman invited Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa for a meeting followed by dinner at Mina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on August 21, 2018. Saudi Crown Prince congratulated COAS on performing Hajj. Both discussed wide-ranging issues of mutual interest including regional security.[21]

5. Outgoing US Ambassador in Pakistan, Ambassador David Hale, paid a farewell call on COAS on August 24, 2018. Army Chief thanked Ambassador for his services in Pakistan and acknowledged his contributions towards Pak-US relations.[22]

6. Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, called on the COAS at the GHQ on August 31, 2018. Regional security situation and other matters of mutual interest were discussed.

Army Public Relations and Development Activities

Group photo of the COAS with Interns

1. COAS visited the ISPR Directorate on August 06, 2018 and addressed and interacted with youth during the ongoing annual internship programme at ISPR. [23] The COAS said that the State is determined to root out extremism and terrorism for which youth has an important role to play. Youth is the prime target of our enemies in the “hybrid war” now The annual Internship Programme 2018 was held in ISPR comprising students of various educational institutions from across the country. The application and selection criteria of the internship or the names of universities represented were not reported in the media.

COAS Gen Bajwa and his wife launching ‘Sar Sabz o Shadaab Pakistan’ tree plantation drive on August 13

2. On August 13, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted that “Pakistan Army joins National Tree Plantation Campaign. COAS will initiate simultaneous plantation of 2 million trees today across the country under Army arrangements with a planned target of 10 million trees during this monsoon. The campaign is named Sar Sabz o Shadaab Pakistan.’’[24] COAS was joined by his wife and planted saplings in an event organized at Race Course Park. Military officers and their families, school children and media attended the event. COAS called for planting more trees across the country to avoid the looming danger of deforestation.[25]

COAS hosted banquet dinner in honour of leading Christian clergy of Pakistan on August 17

3. COAS hosted a banquet dinner in the honour of leading Christian clergy in Pakistan on August 17, 2018. His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Coutts and Right Reverend Humphrey Sarfraz Peter attended the dinner, among others.[26]

COAS Confirms Death Sentences of Terrorists

COAS confirmed death sentences awarded to 15 terrorists on August 16. The terrorists are reported to have been involved in the heinous offences related to attacking Armed Forces/ Law Enforcement Agencies of Pakistan, destruction of educational institutions and killing of innocent civilians. On the whole, they were involved in the killing of 45 persons including 4 civilians, 41 Armed Forces/Frontier Constabulary/ Police Officials and injuring 103 others. Special military courts tried these convicts. Besides, six convicts have also been awarded imprisonment.[27]

PM COAS Interactions

Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS General Bajwa interacted twice during August:

COAS Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Prime Minister’s Office on August 27
  1. Chief of Army Staff called on the newly-elected Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan at the Prime Minister’s Office on August 27, 2018. Gen Bajwa congratulated the Prime Minister on assuming the office and the two discussed the country’s security situation and exchanged views on the regional regional political scenario.[28] Federal Minister of Defence, Mr. Pervez Khattak, was not part of the meeting.
  2. Prime Minister and COAS met again on August 30 at the GHQ where the Prime Minister was accompanied by Federal Minister of Defence, among others. [29]

International Developments

UN Investigators call for Prosecution of Myanmar Army Chief

Myanmar Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing

UN investigators have called for Myanmar´s Army Chief to resign and for him and five other top military commanders to be prosecuted in an international court for genocide against the country´s Rohingya minority on August 27, 2018.

Around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh after Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown in August 2017, on ‘insurgents’ amid accounts of arson, murder, and rape at the hands of soldiers and vigilante mobs in Myanmar. The country has vehemently denied allegations of ethnic cleansing, insisting it was responding to attacks by Rohingya militants. [30]

The UN mission, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017, concluded in its report that “there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) chain of command.” “The crimes in Rakhine State, and the manner in which they were perpetrated are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts,” it said.[31] UN Human rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has also called for the resignation of the de-facto head of state and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criminally silent on the Rohingya genocide in her backyard.[32]

Sri Lanka’s top military officer ordered to be arrested in connection to illegal abduction and murder

Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne

A Sri Lankan court ordered the arrest of Sri Lanka’s top military officer in connection with the abduction and murder of 11 people during the island’s civil war on August 29, 2018.

Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne directed police to detain Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, the sitting Chief of the Defence Staff, for allegedly helping the main person accused in the killings escape prosecution.

Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, a navy intelligence officer, was also accused of leading a hit squad that kidnapped 11 young men between 2008 and 2009 during the final stages of the war. They are believed to have been murdered while being illegally held by the navy. Their bodies were never found. Hettiarachchi was arrested earlier this month in Colombo after a months-long manhunt that saw an alert issued worldwide.[33]

The accused Hettiarachchi is also wanted in connection with the 2006 murder of Tamil lawmaker Nadarajah Raviraj, Police told the court. Several military intelligence officers are facing prosecution in connection with the assassination of a prominent newspaper editor and for orchestrating attacks on other journalists and dissidents during Rajapakse’s rule that ended in January 2015.[34]

Sri Lankan forces defeated Tamil separatists known as the Tamil Tigers, in 2009, ending the decades-long civil war. But the final days of the government offensive, spearheaded by Rajapakse, were marked by allegations of major human rights violations. A former UN official has claimed that up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final stages of the war.[35]

References

  1. Dawn, Man killed as protest against security forces turn violent, August 25, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1428782 (accessed August 31, 2018)
  2. Twitter, @mjdawar, August 26, 2018, https://twitter.com/mjdawar/status/1033625902607998976 (accessed August 31, 2018)
  3. Twitter, @voadeewa, August 26, 2018, https://twitter.com/voadeewa/status/1033718140751040512 (accessed August 31, 2018)
  4. Twitter, @OfficialDGISPR, August 26, 2018, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1033780946493952000 (accessed August 31, 2018)
  5. Twitter, @mjdawar, August 26, 2018 https://twitter.com/mjdawar/status/1033788808410615809 (accessed August 31, 2018)
  6. Twitter, @peaceforchange, August 26, 2018, https://twitter.com/peaceforchange/status/1033816061911687168 (accessed August 31, 2018)
  7. Twitter, @mjdawar, August 26, 2018, https://twitter.com/mjdawar/status/1033841853974700034 (accessed August 31, 2018)
  8. Daily Times, FATA still under fire, August 27, 2018, https://dailytimes.com.pk/288594/fata-still-under-fire/ (accessed August 31, 2018)
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid
  11. Dawn, Sharif terms martyrs our benefactors, November 13, 2013, https://www.dawn.com/news/1056016/sharif-terms-martyrs-our-benefactors (accessed September 3, 2018)
  12. Saad Rasool, The Civil-Military Argument, September 2, 2018, https://nation.com.pk/02-Sep-2018/the-civil-military-argument (accessed September 7, 2018)
  13. Dawn, Gilani visits GHQ, meet army chief, May 15, 2008, https://www.dawn.com/news/302878/gilani-visits-ghq-meets-army-chief (accessed September 3, 2018)
  14. Dawn, Prime Minister Imran Khan visits GHQ for security briefing, August 30, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1429891 (accessed September 3, 2018)
  15. The News, Civil-military leadership on one page: Fawad, August 31, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/361816-civil-military-leadership-on-one-page-fawad (accessed September 03, 2018)
  16. Press Release, ISPR, August 29, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4898 (accessed September 3, 2018)
  17. Press Release, ISPR, August 1, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4849 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  18. Press Release, ISPR, August 2, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4853 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  19. Press Release, ISPR, August 7, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4855 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  20. Press Release, ISPR, August 13, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4875 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  21. Press Release, ISPR, August 22, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4889 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  22. Press Release, ISPR, August 24, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4892 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  23. Press Release, ISPR, August 6, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4854 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  24. Twitter, @DGISPR, August 13, 2018, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1028926328517681152 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  25. The Nation, COAS, wife launch drive to plant 10 million saplings, August 14, 2018, https://nation.com.pk/14-Aug-2018/coas-wife-launch-drive-to-plant-10-million-saplings (accessed September 3, 2018)
  26. Press Release, ISPR, August 17, 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4883 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  27. Press Release, ISPR, August 16, 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4881 (accessed on August 29, 2018)
  28. The Nation, COAS Bajwa calls on PM Imran, August 27, 2018, https://nation.com.pk/27-Aug-2018/coas-bajwa-calls-on-pm-imran?show=blocks (accessed September 7, 2018)
  29. Dawn, Prime Minister Imran Khan visits GHQ for security briefing, August 30, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1429891 (accessed September 3, 2018)
  30. The News, Myanmar army chief be prosecuted for ‘genocide’: UN, August 28, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/360299-myanmar-army-chief-be-prosecuted-for-genocide-un (accessed September 03, 2018)
  31. Ibid
  32. Independent, Aung San Suu Kyi ‘should have resigned’ over Rohingya Muslim genocide, says UN human rights chief, August 31, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/aung-san-suu-kyi-rohingya-muslim-genocide-un-human-rights-chief-zeid-raad-al-hussein-a8513946.html (accessed September 03, 2018)
  33. Dawn, Arrest of Sri Lanka’s top military officer ordered, August 30, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1429856/arrest-of-lankas-top-military-officer-ordered (accessed September 03, 2018)
  34. The News, Court orders arrest of Sri Lanka’s top military officer, August 30, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/361269-court-orders-arrest-of-sri-lanka-s-top-military-officer (accessed September 3, 2018)
  35. Ibid
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