PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | September 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. Prime Minister Imran Khan says rift in Civil-Military Relations a myth
  2. 213th Corps Commanders’ Conference
  3. COAS meets Foreign Diplomats and Military Officials
  4. Army Public Relations and Development Activities
  5. COAS confirms death sentences
  6. PM-COAS Interactions
  7. Myanmar jails Journalists
  8. Egyptian Court Sentencing

Prime Minister Imran Khan says rift in Civil-Military Relations a myth

Addressing the Defence and Martyr’s Day ceremony at the GHQ on September 6, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that “a myth of civil-military imbalance has been created. It looks as if some huge confrontation is going on. (But) there is no such thing. All of us have a common goal of making the country rise.” He praised the military for its professionalism and dedication. He further said that “institutions are destroyed because of political interference and ignoring merit.”[1]

Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Bajwa listen to the national anthem during a ceremony held at the GHQ to mark Defence and Martyrs Day on September 6

Media has commented that it is unprecedented in recent history to see Prime Minister as main speaker at the Defence Day ceremony at the GHQ where that role has almost always been assumed by the COAS.

213th Corps Commanders’ Conference

COAS Gen Bajwa presiding the 213th Corps Commanders’ Conference held at the GHQ on September 4

On September 4, 213th Corps Commanders’ Conference was held at the GHQ presided by COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The forum discussed the evolving geo-strategic environment and progress of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. It paid tribute to the martyrs of Pakistan on the eve of Defence and Martyrs Day 2018. The COAS directed that field formations should reach out to families of martyrs in their respective areas as a mark of respect and acknowledgment of their great sacrifices.[2]

COAS meets Foreign Diplomats and Military Officials

COAS Gen Bajwa in a meeting with the Chinese delegation led by Foreign Minister, Mr. Wang Yi
  1. A Chinese delegation led by Chinese Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi called on the COAS on September 8.[3] Matters related to regional security and bilateral cooperation were discussed. Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Mr. Yao Jing was part of the delegation.
  2. Dr. Awwad Bin Saleh Al Awwad, Information Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) called on the COAS[4] Matters of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting.
COAS General Bajwa in a meeting with Dr. Awwad Bin Saleh Al Awwad, Information Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), on September 8.
  1. Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan called on the COAS on September 11. Matters of mutual interest including regional security issues were discussed during the meeting.[5]
Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan called on the COAS on September 11
  1. Mr. Thomas Drew, British High Commissioner to Pakistan, called on the COAS) on September 13.[6] Matters of mutual interest including regional security situation was discussed during the meeting.
COAS Gen Bajwa in a meeting with Mr. Thomas Drew, British High Commissioner to Pakistan, on September 13.
  1. Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, called on the COAS on September 14.[7] The Focus of the discussion remained on Pak-Turkey relations, regional security including evolving situation in the Middle East, management of defence and security cooperation between both the countries.
Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, called on the COAS on September 14
  1. The COAS undertook a three-days visit to China on September 16, where he interacted with various Chinese leaders including his counterpart, Chief of People’s Liberation Army, Gen. Han Weiguo.[8] On September 19, the COAS also called on the Chinese President. The two discussed the regional security challenges and the way forward. [9]
COAS Gen Bajwa during his meeting with Chinese President in Beijing on September 19
  1. The incoming US Chargé d’Affaires to Pakistan, Ambassador Paul Jones, called on the COAS on September 27.[10] Matters of mutual interest including regional security, with particular reference to Afghanistan, were discussed during the meeting.

Army Public Relations and Development Activities

COAS Gen Bajwa presenting a cheque for the Dam fund to CJP Saquib Nisar on September 11
  1. On September 10, Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called on the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, at the Supreme Court to present a cheque of Rs1,005.99 million as “as donation to Supreme Court of Pakistan Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dam Fund,”[11] according to a press release issued by the Supreme Court. It must be noted that 3 days earlier, on September 07, Prime Minister Imran Khan appealed to overseas Pakistanis to contribute towards building the Dams and had said that “I want to commend Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar [for starting the dams fund], although this was not his job,” [rather] job of civilian political leaders.”[12] The fund is since known as Prime Minister and Chief Justice of Pakistan Fund for Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dam.
COAS delivering keynote address on “Security of Pakistan” during a three-day International Conference at the Air University Islamabad on September 27.
  1. On September 27, COAS General Bajwa delivered a keynote address on the topic of Security of Pakistan at a three-day International Conference held at the Air University Islamabad. [13] The COAS talked in detail about security situation of the country and his vision of enduring peace in Pakistan and the region. Highlighting internal and external challenges to national security, COAS said that the full spectrum of threat demands comprehensive national response involving all institutions of the state.

COAS confirms death sentences to terrorists

On September 10, Chief of Army Staff confirmed death sentences awarded to 13 hardcore terrorists who were involved in attacking Armed Forces/ Law Enforcement Agencies of Pakistan, destruction of educational institutions and killing of innocent civilians.[14] On September 27, he further confirmed death sentences awarded to 11 more hardcore terrorists.[15] On the whole, they were involved in killing of 271 persons including 118 civilians, 71 Armed Forces/Frontier Constabulary/ Police Officials and injuring 397 others. Arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession. Special military courts tried these convicts. Besides, 11 convicts have also been awarded imprisonment during the month.

On September 17, Peshawar High Court suspended the conviction of a militant convicted by the military court on August 16, 2018. The petitioner, through his counsel, argued that fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution like protection of life, fair trial, and representation through counsel of choice were violated.[16]

PM-COAS Interactions

Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS General Qamar Bajwa interacted on five occasions during September. Below are the details:

  1. COAS Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at the PM Office on September 3. Federal Minister of Defence was not present during the meeting.[17]
Prime Minister Imran Khan in discussion with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on September 5. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and COAS General Bajwa are in attendance.
  1. A US delegation including US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dunford, held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan. Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi, COAS, DG ISI and other senior officials also attended the meeting. Pakistan Minister of Defence, Mr. Pervez Khattak, MNA, was not part of the meeting.[18]
  2. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the COAS also interacted during the Defence and Martyr’s Day ceremony held at the GHQ on September 06. Members of his cabinet, including Federal Minister of Defence, also accompanied the Prime Minister.[19]
  3. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the ISI Headquarters on September 12 where COAS and DG ISI received him. The Press Release by ISPR said that lead cabinet ministers also accompanied the Prime Minister, including the Minister of Defence Pervez Khattak.[20] [21]
COAS Bajwa and DG ISI met with Prime Minister Imran Khan on September 28 to discuss security and regional stability
  1. On September 28, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa and DG ISI, Lt. General Naveed Mukhtar, called on the Prime Minister to discuss matters pertaining to national security. Minister of Defence was not present during the meeting.[22]

International Developments

Myanmar jails journalists

Myanmar has jailed two journalists belonging to Reuters news agency on September 3, for allegedly breaching Myanmar’s state secrets law while reporting on a massacre of Rohingya Muslims, fuelling international outrage a week after the army was blamed by the UN for genocide.[23]

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo escorted to jail by Police outside a court in Yangon.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, a British colonial-era law that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. The case is seen as an attempt to muzzle reporting on last year’s crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

Army-led “clearance operations” drove 700,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh, who alleged brutal atrocities — rape, murder, and arson — by Myanmar police and troops.

Human Rights groups and members of the international community including the UN, the US, the European Union and EU members Britain and France condemned the verdict and reiterated calls for the reporters’ release. “I was shocked,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. Reporters Without Borders condemned the trial and punishment, calling it a dark day for press freedom in Myanmar.

Egyptian court sentencing

An Egyptian court sentenced 75 people, including prominent leaders of Muslim Brotherhood, to death and jailed more than 600 others over a 2013 sit-in that ended with the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces on September 8, 2018. They arrested hundreds of people who were charged with inciting violence, murder and organising illegal protests. Rights groups have criticised the trial for including many peaceful protesters and journalists. Amnesty International condemned the judgement, calling the trial “disgraceful”.

A cage holding defendants inside a Cairo courtroom, while security forces stand guard.

According to the Egyptian government, many protesters were armed and were responsible for the killing of eight members of the security forces that day. Rights groups say more than 800 protesters died in the most deadly incident during the unrest that followed Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising.[24]

Following weeks of protests in 2013 against the ouster of then-President Mohamed Morsi by the military, security forces violently broke up the demonstrators at Rabaa Square on August 14, 2013, which resulted in more than 600 deaths. Egypt later declared the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” and began arresting members and supporters. Some Morsi supporters have already been sentenced to life in prison and Morsi himself has been convicted of lesser crimes.[25]

References

  1. Baqir Sajjad Syed, Imran dismisses civil-military divide as myth, Dawn, September 07, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1431456/imran-dismisses-civil-military-divide-as-myth, (accessed October 03, 2018)
  2. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4907 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  3. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4914 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  4. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4913 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  5. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4920 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  6. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4924 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  7. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4930 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  8. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4935 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  9. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4940 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  10. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4954 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  11. Supreme Court of Pakistan, [website], 2018, http://www.supremecourt.gov.pk/web/user_files/File/Press_Release_130_2018.pdf, (accessed on October 3, 2018)
  12. Dawn.Com, [website], 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan calls on overseas Pakistanis to donate to dams fund, https://www.dawn.com/news/1431520, (accessed on October 05, 2018)
  13. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4953 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  14. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4918 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  15. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4956 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  16. Dawn.Com, [website], PHC suspends conviction by military court, https://www.dawn.com/news/1433599/phc-suspends-conviction-by-military-court (accessed October 3, 2018)
  17. Prime Minister’s Office, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, [website], 2018, http://www.pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2422 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  18. Baqir Sajjad Sayed, Pakistan, US agree to make fresh start, Dawn, https://www.dawn.com/news/1431263/pakistan-us-agree-to-make-fresh-start (accessed October 2, 2018))
  19. The News.Com.Pk, [website], https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/364815-live-updates-pm-imran-khan-coas-gen-bajwa-attending-defence-day-ceremony-at-ghq (accessed October 2, 2018)
  20. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4922 (accessed October 2, 2018)
  21. Dawn.Com, [website],PM visits ISI headquarters, given eight-hour briefing, https://www.dawn.com/news/1432622/pm-visits-isi-headquarters-given-eight-hour-briefing (accessed October 3, 2018)
  22. The News.Com.Pk, [website], https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/374194-coas-bajwa-dg-isi-discuss-security-regional-stability-in-meeting-with-pm-imran-khan (accessed October 2, 2018)
  23. Dawn.Com, [website],Two Myanmar journalists jailed for exposing Muslims massacre by army, https://www.dawn.com/news/1430838/two-myanmar-journalists-jailed-for-exposing-muslims-massacre-by-army (accessed October 2, 2018)
  24. Dawn.Com, [website], 75 Egyptians awarded death sentence, over 600 jailed for 2013 protest, https://www.dawn.com/news/1431815/75-egyptians-awarded-death-sentence-over-600-jailed-for-2013-protest (accessed October 3, 2018)
  25. DW.Com, [website], Egypt court sentences 75 to death over 2013 sit-in, August 28, 2018, https://www.dw.com/en/egypt-court-sentences-75-to-death-over-2013-sit-in/a-44861615 (accessed October 3, 2018)