Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | August 2017


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. No Civil-Military Divide: DG ISPR
  2. Calls for Inter-Institutional Dialogue
  3. Continuing Role of COAS in Diplomacy
  4. Ms. Jahangir Questions Inclusion of Military in JIT
  5. Dictator on Democracy
  6. COAS calling on Premier – Yet Another Change in Optics
  7. COAS holds flag hoisting on Pakistan’s 70th Independence Anniversary
  8. ISPR’s Annual Internship Programme
  9. Military-run SCO denied permission to operate across country
  10. National Security Committee meets thrice in August
  11. COAS calls Former Premier
  12. CDA asked to avoid direct contact with foreign diplomats
  13. PM-COAS Interactions
  14. Turkey changes military chiefs
  15. Ex PM Yingluck’s flight provides Thai junta welcome way out

No Civil-Military Divide: DG ISPR

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DG ISPR Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor addressing a press conference on August 21, 2017

Major General Asif Ghafoor, DG ISPR, has reportedly dismissed the notion of any civil-military divide in Pakistan. [1]

In response to a question during a press conference on completion of Operation Khyber IV, DG ISPR reportedly said that ‘there is friction sometimes, but there are no problems between the civilian [government] and the military. It is all part of statesmanship .’ Alluding perhaps to what he termed ‘friction,’ he said that ‘ these issues will not disappear overnight, you need to see how much we have improved compared to the last 17 years. We want to – and are moving towards – a Pakistan where there is peace, stability, rule of law and [freedom for] all institutions [to] work .’ [2]

Calls for Inter-Institutional Dialogue

In a Senate session on August 09, 2017, during a debate on the post-Panama case scenario, Senators mulled over inviting representatives of State institutions to the Senate for a dialogue.

Chairman Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani said that ‘ strengthening the Parliament is a shared responsibility, so an inter-institutional dialogue should be held in this regard .’[3]

Responding to this, DG ISPR said that the Pakistan Army could be a part of such a dialogue if the Government decides to have a ‘grand dialogue’. He said that ‘ we are part of the system, part of the State, we will play the part of the army .’[4]

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his concluding speech at the GT road during his homecoming rally from Islamabad to Lahore, also supported the idea mooted by the Senate Chairman for holding a ‘Grand Dialogue.’ [5]

PTI Vice Chairman, Shah Mehmood Qureshi also accepted Senator Raza Rabbani’s proposition but questioned the mechanisms to initiate and sustain such an initiative. According to media reports, MQM is also not averse to the idea. However, PPP Chairman Mr. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari disowned the idea, saying that the Pakistan Army should not be involved in any such process.[6]


Continuing Role of COAS in Diplomacy

COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa seems to continue in the footsteps of his predecessor in the field of diplomacy, as he interacts with foreign Ambassadors, and visiting dignitaries.

COAS condemned a Taliban attack on the US Armed Forces, offering ‘ heartfelt condolences on the death of two Special Forces soldiers who died in the incident .’ The ISPR press release also said that ‘ we fully understand the loss and pain of victims’ families as Pakistan is undergoing a similar trial of blood, in fight against common threat of terrorism .’[7] The COAS statement was issued by the ISPR on the same day on August 3, as the Acting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ms. Alice Wells, met with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Ms. Tehmina Janjua. [8]

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Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan, H. E. Dr. Omar Zakhiwal meeting with COAS General Bajwa on August 02, 2017

Earlier, on August 02, 2017, the COAS also held a meeting with the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, at the GHQ.  According to the press release issued by the ISPR, ‘ issues of mutual interest including security situation and border management were discussed .’[9] However, a tweet by Dr. Zakhilwal said that the meeting was “a follow-up” discussion with the COAS. [10]

In another such meeting, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. David Hale, also met with COAS General Qamar Bajwa on August 23, 2017. [11] According to ISPR, the COAS relayed to the US Ambassador that Pakistan ‘ was not looking for any material or financial assistance from the US but trust, understanding and acknowledgement of our contributions ‘.[12]

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US Ambassador to Pakistan, H.E. Mr. David Hale meeting with COAS General Bajwa on August 23, 2017

Yet again, on August 25, 2017, a nine-member Afghan media delegation that was on a weeklong visit in coordination with the ISPR, met with the COAS. In his reported message, the COAS said that the media could play an important part in ‘mitigating the negativity created by inimical forces.’ He also stressed upon Pakistan’s efforts in undertaking operations against ‘terrorists of all hue and colour‘ and effective border management. [13]

On August 9, the COAS also met with the visiting Saudi Deputy Defence minister, Mr. Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Aysh, where he reportedly said that ‘ Pakistan holds its defence ties with Saudi Arabia in the highest esteem and also reasserts its unwavering commitment to the defence of Harmain Sharifain and safeguarding the territorial integrity of the Kingdom .’[14]

It must be noted that during all these interactions by the COAS relating to Pakistan’s foreign policy and diplomatic ties, apparently no representative from Pakistan’s Foreign Office was part of the meetings.

Ms. Jahangir Questions Inclusion of Military in JIT

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Former President of Supreme Court Bar Association, Ms. Asma Jahangir at ‘Meet the Press’ on August 03, 2017

While PILDAT reported in its Monitor of July 2017 that that the international media largely implied the disqualification of Mr. Nawaz Sharif was a result of covert military influence, the former President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, Ms. Asma Jahangir, offered scathing criticism on the role of Judiciary in including representatives of the Military in the Joint Investigation Team formed under the Panama Case. [15]

Ms. Jahangir believed that suo motu notice against Mr. Sharif by the Supreme Court resulted in the loss of the right of appeal as the fundamental right. Criticizing the inclusion of ISI and MI officials in the JIT, Ms. Jahangir questioned as to how the Honourable Judges would feel if ISI and MI were included in the Supreme Judicial Council that investigates references against sitting Judges. [16]

PILDAT has continued to question the inclusion of representatives of MI and ISI in the JIT since April 2017, terming it inappropriate. PILDAT continues to maintain, that including Military into spheres outside of its professional scope and competence is a worrying trend. Not only that, military institutions such as the ISI and the MI do not have the professional role to investigate white collar crime, the Honourable Supreme Court should not have inducted military agencies into highly politicized Panama Case enquiry.[17]

Dictator on Democracy

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Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf interviewed by BBC Urdu on August 03, 2017

It is ironic that after himself hampering Pakistan’s democratic progress through a coup in 1999 and a de facto martial law in 2007, Pakistan’s only living dictator, Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf holds a perspective on why Pakistan has a fledgling democracy.

In an interview to BBC Urdu in Dubai on August 03, 2017, General Musharraf claimed ‘ that progress made in the economic and social sectors under military regimes showed that military rule was much better than civilian rule .’ He also said that the military ‘ believed in democracy, but also questioned its effectiveness when it came to good governance .’ [18]

He also claimed that the military never seized power without reason or logic, and their coups are informed by the poor situation in the country and deemed necessary at the time. He insisted that, ‘ lack of good governance by elected leaders often invites military intervention ‘. [19]

Comparing dictatorial rules, he praised dictatorial regime of Ayub Khan, but termed dictatorship by Zia-ul-Haq as controversial, due to promotion of religious extremism. [20]

DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor disowned musings of the retired general at a press conference on August 21, 2017, as his personal comments, that did not represent the perspective of the Pakistan Army. [21] Answering a question about Musharraf’s statement, that military rule brought most stability to Pakistan, DG ISPR said that ‘ He [Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf] has been retired for nearly 10 years now. It is a different matter if he makes a comment about defence affairs given his past experience as army chief. However, if he gives political statements, it is solely his stance as a political leader, and the army as an institution does not own or comment on statements made by political leaders .’ [22]PILDAT appreciates the principled position articulated by the DG-ISPR.

COAS calling on Premier – Yet Another Change in Optics

Yet another change in optics was witnessed when the COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on the newly-elected Prime Minister, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abassi, on August 08, 2017. [23]

The seating arrangement between the Premier and the COAS appears to have gone back to the seating arrangement enjoyed by Gen. Bajwa’s predecessor when calling on the then-Prime Minister Sharif. Pictures below depict the change:

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Earlier Seating Arrangement during COAS-Premier Interactions: photo shows previous COAS Gen. (now Retd.) Raheel Sharif calling on the then-PM Nawaz Sharif on October 18, 2016

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Seating arrangement changed when the newly-appointed COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on the then-PM Nawaz Sharif on November 27, 2016

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COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa meeting with newly-elected PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on August 09, 2017

COAS holds flag hoisting on Pakistan’s 70th Independence Anniversary

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COAS General Bajwa addressing the flag-hoisting ceremony at Wahgah Border

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