PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | December 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. DG ISPR’s Press Conference
  2. 216th Corps Commanders’ Conference
  3. COAS meets foreign dignitaries
  4. Performance of Military Courts
  5. COAS Confirms Death Sentences by Military Courts
  6. Peshawar High Courts Suspends Executions Awarded by Military Courts
  7. Army Public Relations and Development Activities
  8. PM-COAS Interaction
  9. Myanmar’s Army announces ceasefire against rebel ethnic groups

DG ISPR’s Press Conference

It has become an almost regular occurrence that DG ISPR holds press conferences where he offers views, stances and comments on various issues of internal security, politics and even foreign policy and regional relations. This was witnessed once again in December, when on December 6, he held a press conference where he commented on a host of national and international issues.

Many raised questions about the advice he had given to the media that media should ‘present a positive image of the country at least for the next six months.’ Why six months, one wonders, and whether a positive image can be crafted and is not merely reflected?

While responding to a question about the Prime Minister’s remarks where he said the Army is standing behind PTI’s manifesto, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said that “it is a good thing we are working together…this is something to be happy if all stakeholders are pursuing the national objectives”.[1]

DG ISPR, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor addressing the media

Venturing into domestic policy, while responding to a question on PTM, DG ISPR said that “Their genuine demands have been addressed. But they are now headed in a direction where a stage may come that they could cross the line and, in that situation, we would be compelled to use our authority. Don’t cross the line where the State has to use force. He said that the number of check posts had decreased by 29 per cent, 44 per cent of the area had been cleared of mines and a number of cases of missing persons had been settled. “We didn’t turn blind eye to their problems… They are our people, they are distressed, they have suffered, and haven’t resorted to violent means, although they have used objectionable language,” Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said.[2]

Commenting on regional and foreign policy issues, DG ISPR stated that Pakistan wants political reconciliation in Afghanistan and desires that the United States leaves Afghanistan as a friend of the region and not as a failure. Responding to a question about relations with India, he said that Kartarpur Corridor was opened to show respect to Sikh religion but it was presented in a negative light in India.[3]

216th Corps Commanders’ Conference

216th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ on December 13, 2018 presided by COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa. The ISPR reported that the forum reviewed geo-strategic environment with special focus on regional security and situation on Eastern and Western Borders including Line of Control. Progress of ongoing stability operations for internal security was also discussed.[4]

COAS Gen Bajwa presides over the 216th Corps Commanders’ Conference at GHQ

COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries

COAS Gen Bajwa continued his interaction with diplomats and dignitaries during December 2018. Following is the list of his interactions, as reported by the ISPR:

  1. Mr. Ahmed Muhammad Fadel Yacoub, Ambassador of Egypt to Pakistan, called on the COAS at the GHQ on December 3, 2018.[5]
Mr. Ahmed Muhammad Fadel Yacoub, Ambassador of Egypt to Pakistan with COAS at the GHQ
  1. Mr. Kentaro Sonoura, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan, called on the COAS at the GHQ on December 05, 2018.[6]
National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan with the COAS
  1. Mr. Kong Xuanyou, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, China called on the COAS at the GHQ on December 10, 2018.[7]
Mr. Kong Xuanyou, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, China with COAS
  1. The COAS visited Egypt on an official visit on December 17, 2018. COAS called on General Mohamed Zaki, Commander in Chief of Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence & Military Production and Lieutenant General Mohamed Farid Hegazy, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces. The COAS also met Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar.[8]
COAS Gen Bajwa being welcomed by Gen Zaki during his visit to Egypt
  1. COAS visited Qatar on December 18, 2018. COAS called upon His Highness, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar. COAS also called on Sheikh Abdullah Bin Naseer Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister & Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar.[9]
COAS with Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar
  1. US Special Envoy on Afghan Reconciliation Process, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, called on the COAS at the GHQ on December 19.
COAS Gen Bajwa with US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad
  1. General Hulusi Akar (Retired), Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Turkey, called on COAS at the GHQ on December 20.[10]
General Hulusi Akar (Retired), Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Turkey, with COAS
  1. Mr. Takashi Kurai, Ambassador of Japan, called on the COAS on December 21, to bid farewell at the end of his tenure in Pakistan.[11]
Ambassador of Japan with the COAS at the GHQ on December 21
  1. General Austin Scott Miller, Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, called on COAS at the GHQ on December 27.[12]
Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan with COAS
  1. Mr Alexey Yurevish Dedov, Russian Ambassador to Pakistan, called on COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa at GHQ on December 27.[13]

Performance of Military Courts

On December 14, in a written reply to a question by Mr. Mohsin Dawar, MNA, Minister for Defence, Mr. Pervez Khattak, MNA, informed the National Assembly that 717 cases were referred to Military Courts by the Interior Ministry since their establishment on January 7, 2015.[14] Out of these, 185 cases are still pending. Out of 478 cases which had been decided, 284 convicts had been awarded death sentence and 56 of them had already been executed. Military Courts have up till March 2019 to decide these cases after which the second two-year term of military courts would expire.[15]

COAS Confirms Death Sentences by Military Courts

On December 15, COAS Gen Bajwa confirmed the death sentence awarded to 15 hardcore terrorists, who were involved in offences related to terrorism, i.e., attacking the Armed Forces/ Law Enforcement Agencies of Pakistan, abetting suicide bombers in an attack on Christian Colony near Peshawar, destruction of educational institutions and killing of innocent civilians. According to the ISPR, arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession. Military Courts tried these terrorists. In addition, 20 convicts were also awarded imprisonment.[16]

On December 21, COAS Gen Bajwa confirmed death sentences awarded to 14 hardcore terrorists who were involved in offences related to terrorism. Additionally, 20 convicts were also awarded imprisonment.[17]

Peshawar High Courts Suspends Executions Awarded by Military Courts

On December 25, the Peshawar High Court suspended execution of a man convicted by Military Courts. The wife of the accused filed a petition with the Peshawar High Court. Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan issued notices to Interior and Defence Ministries to seek record of the case.[18]

Peshawar High Court

In another case, the Peshawar High Court, on December 28, suspended the execution of two men who were awarded death sentence by the Military Courts. Relatives of the convicts filed an appeal in the High court. Justice Shakeel Ahmed issued notices to Defence and Interior Ministries and sought record of the cases. Their counsel stated in the court that one of the accused was picked up by Law Enforcement Agencies along with his wife and a minor daughter. The wife and daughter were later released while the accused remained incommunicado. The family found out about the execution of the accused through media reports.[19]

Army Public Relations and Development activities

  1. Army hosts delegation of religious scholars in North Waziristan

Mr. Ahmed Ludhyanvi, leader of ASWJ, accepting a gift from Pakistan Army during his visit to North Waziristan

A delegation of religious scholars visited North Waziristan on December 28, where they were hosted at the local garrison. The delegation included Mufti Abdul Raheem (Chief, Jamiatur Rasheed Karachi), Allama Amin Shaheedi (Deputy Secretary General, Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen), Allama Arif Hussain Wahidi (Member, Council of Islamic Ideology), Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi (Chief, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’at), Mufti Mohammad Naeem (Chancellor, Jamia Binoria Karachi), Mohammad Raghib Hussain Naeemi (Member, Council of Islamic Ideology), Pir Mohammad Aminul Hasanat (Former Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith harmony), Allama Iftikhar Hussain Naqvi (Member Majlis Wahdat ul Muslimeen), Maulana Zahid Mehmood Qasmi (Chairman, Pakistan Ulema Council), Dr Qibla Ayaz (Chairman, Council of Islamic Ideology and former Vice Chancellor, University of Peshawar), Maulana Fazalur Rehman Khalil (Founder, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and current leader of Ansar-ul-Umma) and Mohammad Yaseen Zafar (Secretary General, Wifaq-ul-Madaris Al-Salfia). General officer commanding 7 Division, Maj Gen Mumtaz Hussain, while interacting with the religious scholars highlighted the measures being taken for development and economic revival in North Waziristan. [20]

Criticism quickly poured in over including Mr. Ahmed Ludhyanvi of the formerly banned Ahl e Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) in the delegation, who has been accused of patronizing sectarian violence in the country.

  1. A group of Pakistan-based foreign media journalists interacted with DG ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor. DG ISPR briefed them about security situation and ongoing stability operations. Matters related to Pak-Afghan border and situation along Line of Control (LOC) were also discussed. He said that international community sees Pakistan through their reporters based in Pakistan. He expected them to highlight improving peace & stability in Pakistan, which offers economic opportunities for foreign investors. He also said that media has a very important role to project the true positivity of Pakistan.[21]
A group of Pakistan based foreign journalists with DG ISPR
  1. A delegation of Government College University Lahore, students spent a day with Pakistan Army at Lahore Garrison on December 5, 2018. The programme started with wreath-laying ceremony and dua at Yadgar-e-Shuhada, followed by a demonstration by Quick Response Force. The students also witnessed arms and equipment display including small arms fire.[22]
  2. A ceremony, to pay tribute to the martyrs and survivors of Army Public school and college (APSAC) Warsak Road Peshawar was held on December 16, 2018. The ceremony started with a special prayer for the martyrs, followed by the national anthem. A smartly turned out contingent of Pak Army presented the guard of honour. Governor KP Mr. Shah Farman laid a floral wreath at the martyrs’ monument and offered fateha for the departed souls. Recitation of the Holy Quran was held at the school premises later.[23]

In another programme held at the APS Shuhada Library on the same day, a group of parents of APS martyrs invited ANP General Secretary, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Mr. Mohsin Dawar, MNA, Mr. Ali Wazir, MNA and Chief of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, Mr. Manzoor Pashteen, among others as guests. In their speeches, parents of the martyrs demanded justice for their children.[24]

APS students during a ceremony held to pay tribute to the martyrs and survivors of APS attack in 2014.
  1. Pakistan Army handed over homes and shops of a model village in Mashkai District Awaran amongst families who got displaced due to Earthquake 2013. The village has all basic amenities including School, Market, Water Supply system and Solar Based electricity. Pakistan Army completed the project on self-help basis in six months.[25]
Commander Southern Command presenting a gift to a local in Awaran, Balochistan
  1. Pakistan Army organised a two-week long colourful Sports Gala at Khuzdar. The event was aimed at promoting healthy physical activities and sports culture for youth. The event included games of Football, Cricket, Table Tennis, Badminton and Marathon race. More than 3500 students, both girls and boys, belonging to remote areas of Khuzdar Distt participated in the Sports Gala.[26]
  2. COAS joined Christian community at Christ Church, Rawalpindi to take part in Christmas Celebrations on December 25. He appreciated the role of Christian community in the fields of education, health and public welfare and especially acknowledged their contributions in defence of Pakistan as part of Pakistan Armed Forces.[27]
COAS Gen Bajwa taking part in Christmas celebrations at Christ Church, Rawalpindi on December 25

PM-COAS Interaction

Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Gen Bajwa met on one occasion during December. COAS Gen Bajwa called on PM Imran Khan on December 05 at the Prime Minister’s Office. It was not reported whether Minister for Defence, Mr. Pervez Khattak, MNA, was part of the meeting.[28]

International Developments

Myanmar’s Army announces ceasefire against rebel ethnic groups

On December 21, Myanmar’s military announced that it would suspend all military movement in the troubled northern and eastern regions in a bid to coax the rebel groups to agree to a peace agreement.

Myanmar’s military men

The regions in question have experienced conflict since the country’s independence from Britain 70 years ago. Various groups in the region have fought for autonomy, identity, land and resources; as a result thousands of people have been repeatedly displaced from their homes. Some of the rebel groups have welcomed the development while others have kept away. It must be noted that the ceasefire would not apply to Rakhine state where an army crackdown forced more than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the country.

The peace initiative has been Aung San Suu Kyi’s priority since she came to power in 2015 but so far she has had no say in security policy with the powerful military still holding to key government posts.[29]

References

  1. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1449932/army-not-linked-to-any-party-person-ispr (accessed January 02, 2019)
  2. Ibid
  3. The News.com, [website], 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/402614-moment-is-watershed-time-ahead-may-be-very-good-or-bad-paint-pakistan-positive-for-six-months-says-dg-ispr (accessed January 02, 2019)
  4. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5091 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  5. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5064 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  6. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5066 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  7. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5074 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  8. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5098 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  9. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5103 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  10. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5107 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  11. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5111 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  12. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5119 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  13. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5118 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  14. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5096 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  15. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1451318/military-courts-have-three-months-to-decide-185-cases-na-told (accessed January 02, 2019)
  16. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5095 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  17. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5110 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  18. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1453482/phc-stays-execution-of-man-convicted-by-military-court (accessed January 02, 2019)
  19. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1454067/phc-stays-execution-of-two-convicted-by-military-court (accessed January 02, 2019)
  20. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1454065/ulema-delegation-visits-n-waziristan (accessed January 02, 2019)
  21. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5065 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  22. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5068 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  23. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5097 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  24. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1451876 (accessed January 04, 2019)
  25. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5105 (accessed January 01, 2019)
  26. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5114 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  27. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5114 (accessed January 02, 2019)
  28. Prime Minister’s Office, [website], 2018, http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2560 (accessed January 03, 2019)
  29. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1452940/myanmar-army-declares-ceasefire-against-ethnic-rebel-groups (accessed January 02, 2019)

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