PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | May 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. Kharqamar Incident
  2. Presidential Reference against Judges
  3. COAS endorses punishments for army/civilian officers for espionage
  4. 221st Corps Commanders’ Conference
  5. Army Chief addresses Students in Peshawar
  6. COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries
  7. Meeting of the National Security Committee
  8. PM-COAS Interactions
  9. International Developments

Kharqamar Incident

On May 26, 2019, the ISPR, in a Press Release, announced that Mr. Mohsin Javed (Dawar), MNA, and Mr. Ali Wazir, MNA, ‘assaulted’ Kharqamar check-post in Boyya, North Waziristan district. The ISPR alleged that the group was armed and that “due to firing of the group, 5 Army soldiers got injured. In exchange of fire, 3 individuals, who attacked the post, lost their lives and 10 got injured.” According to the statement, a group led by the MNAs wanted to exert pressure for the release of ‘suspected terrorists’ facilitator’ arrested some days ago. Mr. Ali Wazir, MNA, was arrested along with 8 other individuals while Mr. Mohsin Dawar, MNA, was declared to be ‘at large’.[1] On May 29, Mr. Mohsin Dawar, MNA, presented himself for arrest after a long round of negotiations between tribal elders and district administration. He was presented before an Anti-terrorism court in Bannu before being shifted to Peshawar on a week-long physical remand in the custody of Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD). Before his arrest, the MNA rejected the military’s account and claimed that the protestors were unarmed and only passing through the check-post when they were shot. He also claimed that 15 protestors lost their life during the incident.[2] A two-page Special Situation Report, titled “Clash and Casualties in North Waziristan District” submitted to the government by the Deputy Commissioner of North Waziristan on May 28 puts the death toll at 13.[3]

Police raided houses and marketplaces to arrest 22 members of PTM and ANP on May 29 in Bannu for staging a protest against the Kharqamar incident including a journalist, Mr. Gohar Wazir, who had interviewed Mr. Mohsin Dawar after the incident.[4] Opposition parties called for an inquiry into the incident and demanded a house committee to resolve the crisis through political means.[5] They staged a walkout from the National Assembly session at the Prime Minister’s silence on the incident. PPP Chairman Mr. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, MNA, said that he had written a letter to the Speaker to issue production orders of the two parliamentarians, which was ignored.[6]

The incident comes in the wake of a ‘warning’ to the PTM by DG ISPR during a Press Conference on April 29. A few days later on May 2, however, the Chief of the Army Staff, during a public function in Peshawar, had said that the issues raised by the PTM are genuine and natural in post-operation environment; however a few individuals are playing in the hands of foreign forces, exploiting the issues of the tribal areas.

On May 30, PTM chief Mr. Manzoor Pashteen briefed the Senate Special Committee formed to “examine purported grievances amongst some sections of the society and reach out/engage with the genuinely aggrieved persons to create national cohesion” on the incident and demanded an independent commission/committee to investigate the incident to establish facts. The committee reiterated its desire to engage the PTM in political dialogue.[7]

Presidential Reference against Judges

Justice Qazi Faez Isa

A presidential reference has reportedly been filed against two judges including Justice Qazi Faez Isa in the Supreme Judicial Council under Article 209 of the Constitution. The reference, a copy of which was not made available to the esteemed Judge even after he wrote 2 letters to the President, was leaked in the media in bits and pieces before it was officially confirmed on May 30 when the Supreme Judicial Council issued a notice to the Federal Government through the Attorney General to furnish a reply to the notice on the references by June 14.[8] [9]

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, known for his independence and bold judgments. In a strongly worded judgement on the 2017 Faizabad dharna, he had criticized the role of the Armed forces in the episode and directed them to punish the personnel under their command found to have violated their oath by meddling in politics, inter alia, by doling out cash to protesters.[10].[11] In April 2016, he authored the Quetta Commission report where he criticized the abject failure of security organs of the State to prevent the twin attacks in Quetta.[12]

The reference has drawn strong condemnation from legal circles and civil society across the country. The Supreme Court Bar Association called for a nationwide strike in protest on June 14, 2019 when the Supreme Judicial Council takes up the reference.[13] The Pakistan Bar Council has called for the Supreme Judicial Council to quash the references against judges, which smacked of the government’s mala fide intentions.[14] Additional Attorney General, Mr. Zahid F. Ebrahim, immediately resigned in protest stating, “the attempt (to file reference) was not about accountability of judges but a reckless attempt to tarnish the reputation of independent individuals and browbeat the judiciary.[15] Some sections of lawyers especially in Punjab and Karachi have opposed the position taken by the SCBA and feel that the the SJC should be allowed to proceed and decide the case on merit.

In its 46 years history, the Supreme Judicial Council has disqualified only one judge, Justice Shaukat Siddiqui, in October 2018 for being guilty of misconduct over a speech he delivered at the Rawalpindi Bar Council where he accused the Inter-Services Agency of meddling in judicial affairs.[16]

COAS endorses punishments for army/civilian officers for espionage

According to an ISPR statement released on May 30, COAS General Bajwa has endorsed punishment awarded to 2 army officers and one civil officer on the charges of espionage/ leakage of sensitive information to foreign agencies prejudice to the national security under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and the Official Secret Act by separate Field General Court Martial (FGCM) for separate cases. The punishments varied from life imprisonment awarded to a Lieutenant General to death sentences awarded to a Brigadier and a civilian Doctor reported to be employed at a sensitive organization.[17]

This has been a rare incidence of the army publicly disclosing the identities of officers found guilty of wrongdoing, barring the 2016 sacking of six senior military officers on charges of corruption.[18] It has been recognized and appreciated widely as a testament to the well-functioning accountability standards within Pakistan’s Armed Forces.

221st Corps Commanders’ Conference

221st Corps Commanders’ Conference

221st Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ on May 03, 2019 presided by COAS Gen Bajwa. The forum reviewed progress and Operation Radd ul Fasaad and reiterated its resolve to work for enduring peace in the country.[19]

Army Chief addresses Students in Peshawar

COAS Gen Bajwa addressing students in Peshawar

COAS Gen Bajwa interacted with students of various universities during a function arranged at the Corps Auditorium in Peshawar on May 02, 2019. Speaking on the potential of youth, Gen. Bajwa said Pakistan is blessed with dynamic and talented youth. While referring to the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), a youth led rights movement, the COAS said the issues highlighted by the PTM are “genuine and natural in post-operation environment. Few individuals playing in foreign hands are by design exploiting sentiments of the people who have actually suffered at the hands of terrorism and now need care.”[20]

COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries

Mr. Kuniori Matsuda with COAS Gen Bajwa at the GHQ
  1. Mr. Kuniori Matsuda, Incoming Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, called on COAS General Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ on May 10, 2019.[21]
Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China, with COAS Gen Bajwa
  1. Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan, called on COAS General Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ on May 20, 2019.[22]
Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif with COAS Gen Bajwa
  1. Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of Iran, called on COAS General Bajwa at the GHQ on May 24, 2019.[23]
  1. Uzbekistan Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Elyor Ganivev, who was on a two-day visit to Pakistan, called on COAS Gen Bajwa at the GHQ on May 27, 2019.[24]
COAS Gen Bajwa with Afghan NSA Mr. Hamdullah Mohib
  1. Afghan National Security Adviser, Mr. Hamdullah Mohib, called on COAS Gen Bajwa on May 29, 2019. [25]
Sir Nicholas Kay, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Senior Civil Representative in Afghanistan, with COAS Gen Bajwa
  1. Sir Nicholas Kay, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Senior Civil Representative in Afghanistan, called on COAS General Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ on May 30, 2019.[26]

Meeting of the National Security Committee

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee held on May 22, 2019 at the Prime Minister’s Office Islamabad. This is the fourth meeting of the National Security Committee called by Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan since taking oath in August 2018. Since the first meeting in November 2018, the average gap in meetings has been three months barring the emergency situation with India in February where it met twice within a week on February 21 and February 26.

According to the PM’s Office, the meeting on May 22 was attended by Defence Minister, Mr. Pervez Khattak; Interior Minister, Mr. Ijaz Ahmed Shah; Law Minister, Mr. Mohammad Farogh Naseem; Minister for Kashmir Affairs & GB, Mr. Ali Amin Gandapur; Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh; CJCSC General Zubair Mahmood Hayat; Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa; Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi; Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan; Attorney General, Mr. Anwar Mansoor Khan; Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan, Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman; DG ISI, Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir Ahmed Shah; DG ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor; DG MO, Maj. Gen. Nauman Zikria and Federal Secretaries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Law, Kashmir Affairs & GB and National Security Division.[27]

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairing the meeting of the National Security Committee

Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Mr. Ali Amin Gandapur, and GB Chief Minister, Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, attended on a special invite as one session of the meeting discussed GB reforms.[28]

PM-COAS Interactions

Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Gen Bajwa interacted on three occasions during May, 2019.

Groundbreaking Ceremony of Mohmand Dam
  1. Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan, performed the groundbreaking ceremony of Mohmand Dam on May 2, 2019. COAS Gen Bajwa and Federal Minister for Defence Mr. Pervaiz Khattak were present on the occasion.[29]
  2. COAS Gen. Bajwa called on PM Imran Khan at the Prime Minister’s Office on May 15, 2019. There was no indication of Federal Minister for Defence, Pervaiz Khattak being present at the meeting.[30]
  3. PM Mr. Imran Khan and COAS interacted during the National Security Committee meeting held at the PMO on May 22, 2019. Federal Minister for Defence, Pervaiz Khattak was present at the meeting.[31]

International Developments

Military adamant to hold on to power in Sudan

Chaos in Khartoum after shots were fired

Violence in Sudan continues as the military holds on to power. At least six people including an army major was killed after unidentified gunmen opened fire on protestors on May 14.[32] The protestors, who have successfully staged a sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum for weeks, have called for a nationwide two-day strike on May 28, to force to military council to handover power to civilian government.[33] The military council, after rounds of negotiations with the protest leaders, have abandoned the negotiations and accused the opposition of refusing to share power and reducing the military to a ‘ceremonial role’.[34]

The head and deputy head of the ruling military council have recently been on a visit to Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia which has led many to believe these countries are backing military rule in Sudan.[35]

Coup leader set to become PM in Thailand

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup set to become Thailand’s next PM

On May 8, the Thai Election Commission has announced results of Thai elections held in March 2019 showing that the military backed leader, Mr. Palang Pracharat, has secured 115 seats.

This was the first election held in Thailand after a military coup in 2014. The election was held under new rules which gave any party securing at least 30,000 votes a seat in the lower house of 500.[36] The election has been marred by controversies of systematic rigging, voter irregularities and questionable rulings by the military appointed election commission. The leading party in the lower house Pheu-Thai, which has secured 136 seats, threatened to take legal action against the Election Commission calling the process, “an intentional abuse of the law and against the constitution”. General Prayuth Chan-ocha of the military backed Palang Pracharat party, who led the coup in 2014, is set to become Thailand’s new Prime Minister despite securing fewer seats than the rival party, due to the recently implemented Thai system under which both the houses vote for the Prime Minister including a 250-member strong Senate body selected by the military.[37]

References

  1. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5310 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)

  2. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485611/mna-dawar-remanded-in-ctd-custody-after-surrender (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  3. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485590/govt-report-blames-ptm-mnas-for-north-waziristan-incident (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  4. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485269/22-ptm-workers-detained-in-bannu (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  5. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1484997/opposition-questions-pms-silence-on-n-waziristan-incident (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  6. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485688 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  7. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485625 (accessed Jun 12, 2019)
  8. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485614 (accessed Jun 14, 2019)
  9. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485441/sc-judge-writes-to-alvi-over-reference-reports (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  10. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1487022 (accessed Jun 14, 2019)
  11. Ibid
  12. Supreme Court of Pakistan, [Website], 2016, http://www.supremecourt.gov.pk/web/user_files/File/QuettaInquiryCommissionReport.pdf (accessed Jun 14, 2019)
  13. The News.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/484105-reference-against-justice-qazi-faez-isa (accessed Jun 14, 2019)
  14. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/amp/1487897 (accessed Jun 14, 2019)
  15. Ibid
  16. Dawn.com, [Website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1438358 (accessed Jun 14, 2019)
  17. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5320 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  18. Business Recorder.com, [Website], 2019, https://fp.brecorder.com/2019/06/20190603483408/ (accessed Jun 14, 2019)
  19. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5290 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  20. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5288 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  21. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5295 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  22. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5304 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  23. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5309 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  24. The Nation.com, [Website], 2019, https://nation.com.pk/28-May-2019/uzbekistan-praises-pakistan-s-role-in-war-on-terror (accessed Jun 12, 2019)
  25. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1485439/bajwa-afghan-nsa-discuss-border-management (accessed Jun 13, 2019)
  26. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5318 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  27. Prime Minister’s Office, [Website], 2019, http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2840 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  28. Dawn.com, [website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1484000/nsc-backs-govt-plan-to-deal-with-economic-crisis (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  29. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1479931/imran-opens-construction-work-on-mohmand-dam (accessed Jun 12, 2019)
  30. Prime Minister’s Office, [Website], 2019, http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2831 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  31. Prime Minister’s Office, [Website], 2019, http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2840 (accessed Jun 11, 2019)
  32. CNN.com, [Website], 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/14/africa/sudan-protesters-killed-intl/index.html (accessed Jun 12, 2019)
  33. Al Jazeera.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/sudan-braces-strikes-opposition-aim-pressure-army-190528062731737.html (accessed Jun 12, 2019)
  34. Ibid
  35. Ibid
  36. Al Jazeera.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/thailands-parliament-meets-military-retains-upper-hand-190523081322369.html (accessed Jun 12, 2019)
  37. Al Jazeera.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/thai-vote-results-show-winner-army-backed-party-favoured-190509035110267.html (accessed Jun 12, 2019)


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