PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | March 2019

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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. First-ever Meeting of the National Internal Security Committee
  2. Prime Minister and COAS visit Quetta
  3. PM Praises COAS for arranging funding for new Balochistan Health Complex
  4. 219th Corps Commanders’ Conference
  5. Continuing Indian Aggression across LoC
  6. COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries
  7. Chairman JCSC confers Civil Awards
  8. Pakistan Army Support of Balochistan Flood Victims
  9. Minister for Federal Education at the National University of Technology
  10. PM-COAS Interactions
  11. International Developments

First-ever Meeting of the National Internal Security Committee

On March 28, Prime Minister’s office reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan, chaired the first-ever meeting of the National Internal Security Committee.[1]

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, Minister for Education, Minister for Religious Affairs, State Minister for Interior, DG ISI, Federal Secretaries, DG IB, Chief Secretaries of the provinces, IGs, provincial secretaries and senior officials.

Prime Minister termed implementation of National Action Plan as ‘the foremost priority of the present Government,’ and said that the Government is ‘committed to remove all impediments towards implementation of the plan in letter and spirit.’

The meeting also decided to constitute Expert Working Groups to ensure seamless coordination and implementation of every aspect of the National Action Plan.

It must be noted that in its manifesto ahead of the General Election 2018, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had pledged to establish “an institutional framework to deal effectively with internal security.” Terming the body as a “National Security Organisation (NSO),” the party had envisioned that in the NSO, “all the stakeholders can come together, strategize and oversee operationalization of a national security policy, in a structured, organizational manner.” [2]

The NSO, according to the PTI Manifesto 2018, should have “Prime Minister as Chairman while NACTA can act as Secretariat of the NSO.” The Party pledged that the NSO is to “comprise two parts: Plenary Council where decisions regarding policy and strategy are made, and which would have the Minister of Interior as the Deputy Chairman while members would be the Ministers for Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Defence as well as the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Chairman JCSC, COAS, CNS, CAS with Secretary as DG NACTA.”

PTI’s proposed structure of the NSO. Page 56. PTI Manifesto 2018

The Second part, to be called the “Specialist Working Group,” would include “as members, Heads of all eight intelligence agencies, Police rep, Paramilitary rep, and the Deputy Chairman of this Committee, would be the DG NACTA.” Such a body, said the manifesto, should also be institutionalized at the provincial levels as this would also allow the intelligence coordination that is a critical starting point for any security strategy. Civilian and Parliamentary responsibility and control are essential and must be factored in.[3] No notification on the formation of such a body has been made public yet. 

A day before the meeting, on March 27, the PM Office reported that Prime Minister chaired a high-level meeting attended by Finance Minister, Minister for Education, State Minister of Interior, Chief of Army Staff, DG ISI, Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and Interior, DG ISPR and senior officials. Security matters were discussed during the meeting.[4]

Prime Minister and COAS visit Quetta

Chief Minister Balochistan receiving the Prime Minister at Quetta

On March 29, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan, arrived in Quetta for the ground breaking of what the ISPR termed as “Pakistan Army and Government of Balochistan joint venture mega projects including state of the art Cardiac Centre and Quetta-Zhob Road (N-50),” where he was joined by the Chief Minister Balochistan alongside Chief of Army Staff.

The ISPR reported that the Pakistan Army, in collaboration with Government of Balochistan, planned construction of a state of the art Balochistan Health Complex at Quetta as part of Khushal Balochistan Programme for providing best medical facility for local population under the UAE Pakistan Assistance programme (UPAP) projects sponsored by the United Arab Emirates.

Similarly, on the Quetta-Zhob Road (N-50), the ISPR reported that it will link Quetta with Zhob passing through Kuchlak, Muslim Bagh and Qilla Saifullah and will reduce travelling time between Quetta and Dera Ismail Khan from 12 hours to 4 hours. The road will also facilitate speedy transportation of goods from KP to sea port of Karachi, while it will be the primary sub regional corridor running parallel to the western border connecting Afghanistan and Iran with Pakistan and vital connectivity of CPEC western alignment leading to Gawadar Port, the ISPR added. [5]

It must be noted that on December 30, 2015, former Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, had inaugurated N-50, Zhob-Mughal Kot section of the Dera Ismail Khan-Qila Saifullah Highway as part of Western Route of CPEC as well as N-70, the Qila Saifullah-Waigham Rud Road Section of the Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan-Qila Saifullah Highway. [6]

On March 28, a day before Prime Minister’s visit to Quetta, the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, was in Quetta where he visited the Headquarters Southern Command and the School of Infantry and Tactics, as reported by the ISPR. While in Quetta, the COAS said that “Balochistan is future of Pakistan and it is our duty to fully assist the Government and the people of Balochistan towards a shining future.” [7]

PM Praises COAS for arranging funding for new Balochistan Health Complex

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan, while addressing the ground breaking ceremony for the new Balochistan Health Complex in Quetta on March 29, thanked the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, for playing a part in the project’s construction. “You arranged the funding for this from the United Arab Emirates through your connections, and the Army laid the infrastructure,” said the Prime Minister.[8]

Announcing that a cancer hospital will also be part of the facility, Prime Minister reportedly added that “It is important to understand that heart and cancer treatments need specialists. It was hard for us to arrange oncologists, engineers and others, but now we will start this facility with the help of the Army and the Provincial Government,” he said.

219th Corps Commanders’ Conference

Corps Commanders’ Conference at the GHQ

The ISPR reported that the 219th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ on March 07 and was presided over by the COAS Gen. Bajwa. The Conference “reviewed geo-strategic environment and situation due to ongoing Pakistan-India standoff… [and] expressed strong will, resolve and determination to defend the motherland against any misadventure or aggression.” Expressing concerns on increased Indian atrocities in IOK post Pulwama incident and continued deliberate targeting of civilians along Line of Control by Indian occupation forces, the Conference said that “continuity of such brutalities are only fuelling the fire and need to be stopped in the interest of regional peace which also merits world’s attention.”

COAS Gen. Bajwa, appreciating morale and performance of the forces, support from the nation and above all blessings of Almighty Allah, was quoted to have “directed for continued state of vigilance and alertness so as to be prepared for response to any threat.” “Pakistan is on the positive trajectory of peace, stability and progress. No one can make us budge through use or threat of use of force. Similarly, policy and the right of use of force shall remain the prerogative of the state alone,” said COAS Bajwa.[9]

The ISPR reported that “progress of National Action Plan 2014 (NAP)” was also discussed at the Corps Commanders’ Conference, where the COAS “directed to further the efforts in line with decisions of the government to accelerate implementation of NAP while rendering full assistance to other state institutions.”

In a TV conversation with Mr. Kamran Khan, DG ISPR stated that the National Action Plan, put in place in 2014, was “initiated upon the suggestion of the Army.” [10]

Continuing Indian Aggression across LoC

Namaz-e-Janaza of Naik Khurram Shaheed in DG Khan

In the wake of increasing tensions between Pakistan and India after Pulwama attack, Indian aggression across the Line of Control (LoC) has increased.

Reporting on the ensuing aggression by India across the Line of Control (LoC), the ISPR stated that on March 4, Indian troops initiated fire in Neza pir, Pandu, Khanjar Munawar, Battal and Baghsar Sector along LoC. Pakistan Army troops responded effectively to Indian fire targeting Indian posts. [11]

On March 4, the ISPR also reported that Namaz-e-Janaza of Naik Khurram Shaheed, who embraced shahdat in Nikyal Sector on March 2, was offered at DG khan. Shaheed was buried with full military honour for defending the motherland.

In another Situation update on March 5, the ISPR reported that the Indian Army fired in Hot Spring Sector deliberately targeting civilian population resulting in the injury of a 26 year old citizen Mr. Sharafat in village Dara Sher Khan. The Pakistan Army troops effectively responded on Indian posts undertaking the fire.

In Maritime domain Pakistan Navy continues its effective vigilance and alertness. PN detected an Indian Navy Submarine south of Pakistani coast. Pakistan Navy’s alert and vigilant presence displayed the capability to deter and safeguard the sea front against any misadventure. The PAF continues its vigilance and state of readiness, the ISPR added. [12]

On March 11, the ISPR reported that Indian troops resorted to unprovoked fire in Chakothi Sector along LoC), targeting civilian population. Two civilians including a woman embraced Shahadat, while four were injured. Pakistan army troops responded effectively targeting Indian post which initiated fire. [13]

COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries

Following is the list of COAS Gen Bajwa’s interactions with diplomats and dignitaries during March 2019:

Mr. Stephen Lovegrove CB, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence, UK, with General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff
  1. On March 12, Mr. Stephen Lovegrove CB, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence, UK, called on Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ. The ISPR reported that views were exchanged between the two on matters of mutual interest including bilateral cooperation and overall regional security situation. [14]
Commander National Guard of the Kingdom of Bahrain, General Sheikh Muhammad Bin Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa with COAS General Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ.
  1. On March 20, Commander National Guard of the Kingdom of Bahrain, General Sheikh Muhammad Bin Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, met with the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the GHQ. [15] He also called on the Prime Minister separately.
Ambassador of China to Pakistan with COAS at the GHQ
  1. On March 26, H.E. Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan, called on COAS Gen. Bajwa at the GHQ where “matters of mutual interest were discussed.” [16]
  2. On March 26, Frederica Morgherini, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, called on the COAS at the GHQ.[17] Earlier, Mr. Morgherini had also called on the Prime Minister, separately.

Chairman JCSC confers Civil Awards

On behalf of the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, conferred Civil Awards to the eminent Scientists and Engineers working in Pakistan Strategic Institutions, for their meritorious services in an Investiture Ceremony held at the Joint Staff Headquarters, Rawalpindi. He conferred 5 Sitara-i-Imtiaz, 9 Pride of Performance and 2 Tamgha-i-Imtiaz. [18]

Pakistan Army Support of Balochistan Flood Victims

On March 4, the ISPR reported that Army aviation helicopters were employed in Nushki district to rescue stranded people, hit by flash floods in Balochistan, to safer places. Approximately 1300 kg of relief assistance comprising tents, Pillows, quilts and ration packs were delivered through helicopters in affected areas of Mand and Turbat. Cooked food was provided to over 100 families in District Pishin. In addition, the Army and FC troops also rescued a bus which toppled due to flash flood at Shahnorrani, Hub. All 35 passengers were moved to safer place.[19]

Minister for Federal Education at the National University of Technology

Mr. Shafqat Mahmood addressing at the NUTECH

Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, MNA, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, National History and Literary Heritage, inaugurated the Skills Testing Centre at the National University of Technology (NUTECH) in Rawalpindi on March 28. Both the ISPR and the APP reported that while addressing the faculty and students of the university, Mr Shafqat Mahmood “appreciated the role of Pakistan Army and Frontier Works Organization for building this state-of-the art university. [20] [21]

PM-COAS Interactions

According to the media reports, Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff met on 4 occasions during March 2019. Out of these 4 occasions, Defence Minister was only part of one.

  1. On March 11, COAS Gen. Bajwa met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the PMO “for a discussion on the security situation.” [22] While no official account was made available by the PMO, Dawn suggested that the meeting took place in the context of government crackdown against proscribed organisations to meet the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Defence Minister was not reported to be part of the meeting.
PM with Chairman JCSC and 3 Services Chiefs
  1. On March 20, Prime Minister met with the services chiefs at the PMO. Dawn reported that a brief statement from the PMO shared that “Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Services Chiefs called on Prime Minister Imran Khan,” where “security situation of the country including professional matters pertaining to armed forces of Pakistan were discussed.” [23] Defence Minister was not reported to be part of the meeting.
  2. On March 27, Prime Minister Imran Khan presided over a meeting to discuss security matters where Finance Minister, Minister for Education, State Minister of Interior, Chief of the Army Staff, DG ISI, secretaries of foreign affairs and interior, and DG ISPR joined him. [24] Defence Minister was not reported to be part of the meeting.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Dr. Arif Alvi, Federal Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak, COAS General Bajwa alongwith Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Pakistan Day Parade in Islamabad
  1. PM and COAS were also together at the Pakistan-Day Parade on March 23, 2019 where Defence Minister was also present alongside President of Pakistan and Prime Minister of Malaysia.

International Developments

Thai General Election result in Victory for Ruling Junta

Vote count in Thailand

In Thailand’s election held on March 24, 2019, first since the 2014 military coup, the country was split between pro-military forces and their opponents. While the Thailand Election Commission released the final vote count showing the pro-military party had won the popular vote, the results have been marred by concerns over voting irregularities. Official results of the polls are due by May 9.[25]

The March 24 election was seen by many as a return to democracy for Thailand. However, the coalition of parties opposing military rule have continued to criticise the Thai military for taking steps to ensure it would remain influential in politics, including appointing all 250 seats in the upper house.

Former Thailand Prime Minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra and his pro-democracy party, have complained of “irregularities” in preliminary results. Preliminary figures have shown Phalang Pracharat, with 2014 coup leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha as its candidate for prime minister, ahead in the popular vote. [26]

Crisis in Algeria

Protesters in Algeria demanding President to Quit

Since February 2019, Algeria has been shaken by street demonstrations that occur almost simultaneously in all the 48 provinces of the country after Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his candidacy for a fifth presidential term in a signed statement. [27]

Following weeks of mass protests demanding the ailing leader step down after two decades in power, on March 26, Algeria’s army chief called for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to govern.

“It is necessary, even imperative, to adopt a solution to get out of the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people, and which guarantees the respect of the provisions of the constitution and safeguards the sovereignty of the state,” General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a televised speech.

The armed forces chief of staff, considered loyal to Bouteflika, added that the solution “is in article 102” of the constitution, under which parliament could declare the president unable to perform his duties due to serious illness. The 82-year-old leader uses a wheelchair and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. He has often flown to France or Switzerland for treatment. On March 11, while announcing that he was pulling out of the race, Bouteflika also postponed the elections, angering protesters who saw the move as a ploy to stay in power. His term of current office expires on April 28, 2019. [28]

References

  1. Prime Minister’s Office, Islamic Republic of Pakistan. “Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the first-ever meeting of the National Internal Security Committee at Prime Minister’s Office.” Pmo.org.pk. March 28, 2019. http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2761 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  2. PTI Manifesto 2018. Page 56. http://insaf.pk/public/insafpk/content/manifesto
  3. PTI Manifesto 2018. Page 56. http://insaf.pk/public/insafpk/content/manifesto
  4. Prime Minister’s Office, Islamic Republic of Pakistan. “Prime Minister Imran Khan today chaired a high level meeting at Prime Minister’s Office.” Pmo.org.pk. March 27, 2019. http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2759 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  5. ISPR. Website. “Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan arrived Quetta today.” March 29, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5234 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  6. Dawn.Com. “PM inaugurates western route of CPEC in Zhob.” December 30, 2015. https://www.dawn.com/news/1229616 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  7. ISPR. Website. “Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Headquarters Southern Command Quetta today.” March 28, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5231 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  8. Dawn.Com. “PM Khan urges ‘inclusive development’ during trip to Quetta, Gwadar.” March 29, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1472622 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  9. ISPR. Website. “219th Corps Commanders’ Conference presided by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) held today at GHQ.” March 07, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5212 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  10. YouTube. “DG ISPR Beeper | Dunya News – 5 Mar 2019 | Pakistan – India Standoff.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2_C9x0VIUc (accessed April 03, 2019).
  11. ISPR. Website. “Indian troops initiated fire in Neza pir, Pandu , Khanjar Munawar, Battal and Baghsar Sector along LOC.” March 04, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5209 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  12. ISPR. Website. “Situation along LOC remained relatively calm. Indian Army fired in Hot Spring Sector deliberately targeting civilian population.” March 05, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5211 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  13. ISPR. Website. “Indian troops resorted to unprovoked fire in Chakothi Sector along Line of Control (LOC), targeting civilian population.” March 11, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5214 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  14. ISPR. Website. “Mr. Stephen Lovegrove CB, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence, UK called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ, today.” March 12, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5217 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  15. The Nation. “COAS, Bahrain Gen agree to boost ties.” March 20, 2019. https://nation.com.pk/20-Mar-2019/coas-bahrain-gen-agree-to-boost-ties (accessed April 03, 2019).
  16. ISPR. Website. “H.E. Mr Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ, today and matters of mutual interest were discussed.” March 26, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5229 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  17. The News International. Website. “Strategic partnership: Pakistan, EU to cooperate against terror outfits.” March 26, 2019. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/448738-strategic-partnership-pakistan-eu-to-cooperate-against-terror-outfits (accessed April 03, 2019).
  18. ISPR. Website. “On behalf of the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, conferred Civil Awards to the eminent Scientists and Engineers.” March 26, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5230 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  19. ISPR. Website. “Update Relief and Rescue Operations in Flash Flood Hit Areas Of Balochistan Security Forces rendered rescue and relief assistance to civil administration for 3rd day in various parts of Balochistan.” March 4, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5210 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  20. APP. “Shafqat inaugurates Skill Testing Centre at NUTECH.” March 28, 2019. http://www.app.com.pk/shafqat-inaugurates-skill-testing-centre-at-nutech/ (accessed April 03, 2019).
  21. ISPR. Website. “Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, National History and Literary Heritage, visited National University of Technology (NUTECH) today.” March 28, 2019. Inter-Services Public Relations. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5232 (accessed April 03, 2019).
  22. Dawn.Com. Website. “PM, army chief discuss security situation.” March 12, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1469116/pm-army-chief-discuss-security-situation (accessed April 03, 2019).
  23. Dawn.Com. “PM, services chiefs discuss security issues.” March 21, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1470920/pm-services-chiefs-discuss-security-issues (accessed April 03, 2019).
  24. Dawn.Com. Website. “PM chairs meeting on security matters.” March 28, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1472349/pm-chairs-meeting-on-security-matters (accessed April 03, 2019).
  25. BBC. “Thailand election: Full vote count in but no winner yet.” March 29, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47743481?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c4l37mgp4q4t/thailand-election-2019&link_location=live-reporting-story (accessed April 03, 2019).
  26. Dawn. “Former PM accuses Thai military of rigging election.” March 26, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1471957/former-pm-accuses-thai-military-of-rigging-election (accessed April 03, 2019).
  27. Modern Diplomacy. “The Algerian crisis of March 2019.” March 07, 2019. https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2019/03/07/the-algerian-crisis-of-march-2019/ (accessed April 03, 2019).
  28. Dawn. “President be declared unfit to rule, says Algerian army chief.” March 27, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1472175/president-be-declared-unfit-to-rule-says-algerian-army-chief (accessed April 03, 2019).