PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | March 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. ‘Bajwa Doctrine’
  2. Continuing Role of COAS in Foreign Affairs
  3. Army’s Public Relations and Development Activities
  4. 209th Corps Commanders’ Conference
  5. Sale of GHQ land put on hold
  6. 1671 troops deployed in Saudi Arabia: Defence Ministry
  7. Protestors in Thailand demand army to stop supporting ruling Junta

Bajwa Doctrine

On March 28, Director General ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor, said that the “Bajwa Doctrine” must be looked at from the lens of security.[1]

This clarification came on March 28, 2018, while the “Bajwa Doctrine”[2] had already become the cause of much consternation and conjecture in the media since the middle of March.

DG ISPR confirmed that the Chief of Army Staff had indeed met and interacted with a number of journalists in the context of “current environment” in an off-the-record setting and while most of them respected the norms of [off-the-record] media interaction, some journalists, including even those who were not actually part of the interaction, he said, chose to lump together the “entire interaction and made it part of the Bajwa Doctrine.”[3]

While the “Bajwa Doctrine” as it was referred to by a number of journalists, included a vast variety of subjects, perhaps the most objectionable ideas attributed to it have been that of COAS Bajwa allegedly fashioning the following notions:

  1. “Guided democracy” based on three tenets: a democratic government, chosen by free and fair election, a governance set up where the elected have little or no impact, and protection of democracy, but not at the cost of national institutions.[4] The most needed clarification, PILDAT believes, should have come on the attributed notion of ‘guided democracy’ as such a concept is not only a flagrant violation of rule of law and constitution, the notion is a contradiction in terms as there is no concept of a democratic system of government that should be guided by anything other than the Constitution and the will of the voters. The concept is dangerous especially in the context of Pakistan’s unfortunate tryst with military rule and pre-eminence.
  2. Criticism of devolution under the 18th amendment to the Constitution. COAS is reportedly attributed to have said that ‘it is being seen to have caused an imbalance between the federation and the provinces. The provinces do not have the capacity to shoulder all the responsibilities that the amendment has transferred to the federating units. It is being seen as more dangerous than Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s six points because following its passage the federation has turned into confederation.’ [5] It must be noted that while DG ISPR in his press conference said that Bajwa Doctrine does not include devolution, he commented that “there is nothing better than every province being responsible for its own matters, but they should also be capable of making those decisions.”

It must be noted that the DG ISPR did not deny that conversation topics were not as reported by the media, but only said that conversations during the off-the-record meeting were lumped together as part of the Bajwa doctrine, which should be only seen from the lens of security.

Continuing Role of COAS in Foreign Affairs

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The COAS continues to play an active role in the diplomatic and foreign policy domains. Following is an account of his interactions during March 2018:

  1. Ms Margaret Anne Adamson, Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, visited the COAS at the GHQ on March 08, 2018, to discuss matters of mutual interest.[6]
  2. Imam-e-Kaaba, His Excellency, Dr. Saleh Bin Mohammad Ali Talib, met the COAS at the GHQ to discuss matters of mutual interest on March 12, 2018.[7] Imam-e-Kaaba also met President Mamnoon Hussain on the same day.
  3. The COAS met with Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr. Javad Zarif, on March 13, 2018, at the GHQ. The two discussed bilateral security engagements during the recent months and measures initiated by both sides to improve Pak-Iran border security.[9] The Foreign Minister came to Pakistan on March 11, 2018 on a three-day visit, leading a high-level delegation including a large group of businessmen.[10] The visiting dignitary also met with the civilian leadership, including Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Prime Minister Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi separately on March 12, 2018.[11][12]
  4. Mr. Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, visited the COAS at the GHQ to discuss matters of mutual interest on March 15, 2018.[13]
  5. The COAS embarked on an official visit to the State of Brunei on March 26, 2018, where he met with the Sultan of Brunei, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaulah, to discuss matters including bilateral defence cooperation and military to military ties.[14]

Army’s Public Relations and Development Activities

  1. Commander Southern Command Chief Guest at Makran Festival
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A three-day Makran Festival was organized in Turbat starting March 02, 2018, in connection with Baloch Cultural Day. Although who exactly organized the event is unclear, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa, joined the event as the chief guest, and promoted Khushhal Balochistan Programme.[15] He said that, ‘development projects under the “Khushhal Balochistan Programme” are close to completion and are designed to cater to the people in the most efficient manner.’[16]

  1. Visit of COAS to Balochistan
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Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, laid the foundation of a UAE and Swiss government supported desalination plant at Gwadar, on March 04, 2018. The desalination plant is being installed under the Khushhal Balochistan Programme, and will fulfil the local demand for clean water. On the occasion, the COAS said that ‘Balochistan’s progress is Pakistan’s progress. Pakistan Army will extend full support and assist the socio economic development of Balochistan. While highlighting the importance of on going projects as part of Khushhal Balochistan programme, COAS said that all measures in coordination with civil Government would be taken to bring peace and prosperity in Balochistan.’[17]

Later, the COAS met with local elders of Turbat at Headquarters FC Balochistan (South), along with CM Balochistan Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, Commander Southern Command, Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa and IGFC Balochistan (South) Major General Tariq Aman.[18]

The COAS also attended the closing ceremony of Makran festival, where a large number of local were present. On this occasion he said, ‘People of Balochistan and Turbat have the right for provision of similar facilities as in rest of Pakistan. He said Khushhal Balochistan programme is aimed at fulfilment of this right.’[19]

According to ISPR, the COAS stayed the night in Turbat, and visited Awaran the next day where he inaugurated work for Turbat-Bulaeda Road and Cadet College Awaran (CCA) at Jhao.[20]

The COAS also interacted with local elders at Jhao. According to ISPR, Chief Minister Balochistan, Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, accompanied the COAS throughout the trip, and discussed various coordination aspects to successfully carry on the execution of Khushhal Balochistan programme.[21]

  1. Students spend a day with Pakistan Army

Another group of 300 students from different schools, colleges and universities of Bahawalpur spent a day with Pakistan Army, where they were briefed about organization of Pakistan Army. They were also given a demonstration of combat worthiness of the Pakistan Army.[22]

According to ISPR the students were also given experience of small arms firing.[23] To what end these meetings occur is still unclear. However, this is the third such engagement with students in Southern Punjab by the Pakistan Army.

209th Corps Commanders’ Conference

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On March 06, 2018, 209th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ, where apart from review of on going operations in Pakistan, the forum discussed and reviewed the Khushhal Balochistan programme.[24]

Sale of GHQ land put on hold

On a petition by local lawyer, Mr. Anwar Dar, arguing that Rawalpindi GHQ land actually belonged to Punjab Government, and was transferred through mutation of amenities, Lahore High Court, Rawalpindi bench halted Pakistan military’s plan to sell 108 kanals of the land. The land was apparently being sold to fund the transfer of the GHQ to Sector E-10, Islamabad.

The petitioner had argued that, ‘low-income residents were living around the land, on which successive governments had neglected to develop any educational or recreational facilities for citizens.’ On behalf of Defence Ministry, Additional Attorney General, Mr. Mohammad Siddique Awan argued that the land belonged to the military. Mr. Dar, the petitioner himself is also a resident of the area.[25]

1671 troops deployed in Saudi Arabia: Defence Ministry

In response to questions in the National Assembly, Ministry of Defence, in a written response, has informed the House that 1671 army personnel have been deputed to Saudi Arabia thus far, while a total of 6,118 troops are deputed on United Nations Missions. Further details, country wise, and year wise of personnel deputed were also given in the reply. [26]

The written reply came in response to an inquiry by MNA Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan. The MNA had enquired about the number of cases pending in military courts.[27] The response submitted by Ministry of Defence stated that since 2016, 486 cases have been tried in military courts, out of which 333 cases have been concluded, in which 186 individuals have been awarded death sentences, and 79 have been given life imprisonment. The Army Chief received 151 mercy petitions, all of which were rejected.[28]

International Developments

Protestors in Thailand demand army to stop supporting ruling Junta

On March 24, 2018, more than 300 pro-democracy student protestors in Thailand marched up to the Thai Army Headquarters to demand that the Thai military withdraw support of the Thai Military Junta, which is ruling Thailand since a coup in Mary 2014. The protestors also protested against corruption by the Junta, and demanded that elections be held in November 2018 to make transition to democracy.[29]

Thai Military Junta has been delaying elections originally meant to have taken place in 2015. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha postponed general elections till early 2019.[30]

The Thai Junta raised prospect of delaying the elections further after the protests, as the Junta deems the protest illegal. However it showed restraint in quashing the protest. As agitation against the military rule grows, Thai political parties also joined hands on March 28, 2018to call the junta to lift ban on campaigning.[31] Political activity has been banned in the country since 2014.[32]

References

  1. Bajwa doctrine does not mention 18th Amendment or judiciary: DG ISPR, March 28, 2018: https://www.geo.tv/latest/188306-dg-ispr-addresses-press-conference
  2. The Bajwa Doctrine: from chauvinism to realism, THE NEWS, March 18, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/293885-the-bajwa-doctrine-from-chauvinism-to-realism
  3. Bajwa doctrine does not mention 18th Amendment or judiciary: DG ISPR, March 28, 2018: https://www.geo.tv/latest/188306-dg-ispr-addresses-press-conference
  4. The Bajwa doctrine, THE NEWS, March 18, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/293709-the-bajwa-doctrine
  5. Analysing the Bajwa Doctrine, M. Ziauddin, March 22, 2018. Daily Times: https://dailytimes.com.pk/217943/analysing-the-bajwa-doctrine/
  6. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 08, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4621
  7. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 12, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4631
  8. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 13, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4636
  9. Iranian foreign minister to hold talks with civilian, military leaders, DAWN, March 12, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.dawn.com/news/1394731/iranian-foreign-minister-to-hold-talks-with-civilian-military-leaders
  10. Prime Minister Office, Official Website, March 12, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2225
  11. Iran will not let its soil be used against Pakistan: Iranian envoy, GEO NEWS, March 12, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.geo.tv/latest/185908-iranian-foreign-minister-arrives-in-pakistan-for-three-day-visit
  12. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 15, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4640
  13. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 26, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4655
  14. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, November 23, 2017, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4404
  15. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 02, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4606
  16. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 04, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4607
  17. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 05, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4608
  18. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 05, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4608
  19. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 05, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4609
  20. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 05, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4609
  21. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 13, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4638
  22. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 13, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4638
  23. ISPR Press Release, Official Website, March 06, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018 at https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4615
  24. LHC suspends order allocating military land for public facilities, DAWN, March 01, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.dawn.com/news/1392366/lhc-suspends-order-allocating-military-land-for-public-facilities
  25. 1,671 soldiers deputed in Saudi Arabia, THE NATION, March 13, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://nation.com.pk/13-Mar-2018/1-671-soldiers-deputed-in-saudi-arabia
  26. Army courts awarded death to 186 persons since 2015, EXPRESS TRIBUNE, March 13, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://tribune.com.pk/story/1658250/1-na-question-hour-army-courts-awarded-death-186-persons-since-2015/
  27. 1,671 soldiers deputed in Saudi Arabia, THE NATION, March 13, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://nation.com.pk/13-Mar-2018/1-671-soldiers-deputed-in-saudi-arabia
  28. Thai protesters demand army stop supporting ruling junta, REUTERS, March 24, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-politics/thai-protesters-demand-army-stop-supporting-ruling-junta-idUSKBN1H00JT
  29. Thai protesters demand army stop supporting ruling junta, REUTERS, March 24, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-politics/thai-protesters-demand-army-stop-supporting-ruling-junta-idUSKBN1H00JT
  30. Thai Parties call for Junta to finally unshackle politics, REUTERS, March 29, 2018, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://asiaviews.net/thai-parties-call-junta-finally-unshackle-politics/
  31. Thailand’s political activity ban stays for now: PM, REUTERS, October 31, 2017, as accessed on April 05, 2018, at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-politics/thailands-political-activity-ban-stays-for-now-pm-idUSKBN1D00IO

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