PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | July 2018


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. Alleged Interference in General Election 2018
  2. International Perspectives on General Election 2018
  3. Justice Siddiqui alleges Spy Agencies Meddling in Judicial Affairs
  4. Troops in General Election 2018
  5. Army Chief ratifies death sentences, PHC suspends military convictions
  6. COAS meets Foreign Diplomats & Military Officials
  7. Meeting of the National Security Committee
  8. Army Public Relations and Development Activities
  9. PM-COAS interactions
  10. Turkey Punishes Army, Civilian Officials involved in July 2016 Coup
  11. Mugabe Still a Political Force

Alleged Interference in General Election 2018

Ahead of General Election 2018, a PML-N candidate from the Punjab Assembly’s constituency PP-219, on July 1, 2018, alleged that he was tortured by the personnel of an intelligence agency over his refusal to withdraw from the upcoming election on a PML-N ticket.

In a video that went viral on the internet, Rana Iqbal Siraj, said that a raid was conducted on his godown of fertilizer and he was threatened to face the consequences.[1] “They said they would destroy my business and harm my family. I was asked not to contest the election on the PML-N ticket” he claimed.[2]

The PML-N leadership including Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Ms. Maryam Nawaz Sharif, demanded the Caretaker Government and the Election Commission to take notice of such threats.[3]

Later, however, Rana Muhammad Iqbal Siraj said it was not the officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence who had threatened him, but it was the Agricultural Department, leading to the facetious statement by leading analytics in Pakistan and abroad commenting on the alleged role of Intelligence Agencies in General Election 2018 dubbed as agriculture department. Rana Iqbal Siraj’s statement was later corroborated by the DG ISPR in his Press Conference of July 10 when he said that the PML-N candidate from Multan — who had accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of pressuring him into switching parties but then backtracked saying it had, in fact, been the Agriculture Department — has been investigated by the Agriculture Department for around two years for alleged misdoings during a past tenure there. [4]

Rana Muhammad Iqbal lost the seat with 25,003 votes while the seat was bagged by PTI’s Muhammad Akhtar with 39,061 votes.[5]

In Kasur, a serving major issued directives to DROs and ROs to attend a conference in his office related to election preparations on June 29, 2018, which was taken notice of by Lahore High Court. In another incident, a military officer issued a letter to DRO Sargodha, who is also a Districts and Sessions Judge, to attend a meeting at his office on July 2, 2018. The ECP took notice of the incidents and reportedly asked the GHQ for an explanation, which termed the actions a mistake. DG ISPR later corroborated this view when asked about the incident in his press conference on July 10.[6]

The DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor denied any interference in the elections by the military. He affirmed the army would only play a supportive role in the electoral process and have ‘no direct role in conduct of elections’. He also briefed the media on the deployment of 371,388 troops in 85,307 polling stations serving 105.95 million voters. He specifically mentioned that the counting of ballots was the ECP’s job.[7]


Responding to questions on alleged election engineering in the press conference on July 10, the DG ISPR said there had been no election in the country’s history when political parties did not allege some form of rigging. He also distanced the army from any role in the allotment of ‘jeep’ symbol allotted to some independents.[8]

Major General Asif Ghafoor later tweeted a photo of people presenting flowers to soldiers on polling day with the caption, “Thank you fellow Pakistanis. [The] World has seen your respect for Pak Armed Forces and LEAs today. [You] have rejected all kinds of malicious propaganda…”[9] A day after polling concluded, he tweeted a verse from the Quran, in Arabic, from his personal account, which means, “God give honour to those whom He pleases and dishonour to those whom He pleases”[10].

Post-Election, the preliminary statement by EU Observation mission noted, “The elections took place against a background of allegations of interference in the electoral process by the military-led establishment and the role of the judiciary as a political actor.”[11] The Commonwealth Election Observation Group also stated, “Some stakeholders questioned the impartiality of the military and judiciary and cited the timing of court cases against certain political leaders and candidates as an example.”[12]

International Perspectives on General Election 2018

The General Election 2018 have raised questions internationally over its conduct. The international media has cried foul over the alleged interference to subvert the mandate of the people.

Some analysts are of the opinion that “The military persuaded politicians from other parties to defect to [the] PTI along with their voters… The army bullied the press into providing [the] PTI with positive coverage while attacking the PML-N. The security apparatus rounded up, detained, and otherwise harassed [the] PML-N party workers, and the army worked behind the scenes to disqualify [the] PML-N candidates from running.”[13] The international media believes, “they appear determined to keep former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out of politics”[14] using the judiciary, “In this election, the court was instrumental to the army’s scheme to elect Khan.”[15]

Some in the international media believe that, “this view of Pakistan — and the military’s role in it — leaves the country in a permanent cycle of political tumult and economic stagnation.”[16]

In its editorial after the elections, The Guardian noted that, “Mr. Khan has also benefited from voters’ frustration with years of corruption and dynastic politics dominated by the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party… Mr. Khan promises a new Pakistan, and has certainly reinvented himself. However, also maintained that, “He [Imran Khan] claimed the country’s “umpires” would step back if he were elected. But Mr. Khan’s promised “New Pakistan” seems likely to look rather like the old variety.”[17]

Justice Siddiqui alleges Spy Agencies Meddling in Judicial Affairs

On July 21, while addressing Rawalpindi Bar Association,[18] Justice Shaukat Siddiqui, Judge of Islamabad High Court, said the Inter Services Agency (ISI) is “manipulating judicial proceedings as its officials manage to constitute benches at its will and mark cases to selected judges.”[19] He further claimed that ISI approached Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi and told him they did not want former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter released before election.[20]

Islamabad High Court Judge Justice Siddiqui addressing Rawalpindi Bar Association

Taking note of these comments, ISPR issued a press release on July 22, 2018, which said, “An honourable judge of Islamabad High Court of Pakistan has levelled serious allegations against state institutions including honourable judiciary and the premier state intelligence agency. In order to safeguard the sanctity and credibility of the state institutions, Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan has been requested to initiate appropriate process to ascertain the veracity of the allegations and take actions accordingly.”[21]

Justice Siddiqui wrote a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, dated July 22, 2018, asking for an “independent commission” to establish the authenticity of the presented facts.[22] Rawalpindi Bar Association distanced itself from the remarks by the High Court Judge during a press conference by the Bar’s president Khurram Masood Kiyani on July 23.[23]

The Chief Justice of Pakistan’s office issued a statement on July 23, terming the allegations which implicated the Chief Justice of IHC and national institutions synonymous to maligning the judiciary and berating its independence. The CJP put the burden of proof on Justice Siddiqui and asked the IHC to collect evidence from him.[24] Responding to a petitioner who had praised Justice Siddiqui for raising his voice, the Judge commented that he was being treated as an accused rather than a complainant who had pointed out external interference in the judiciary.[25]

After these statements in the judgment, the ISI filed a petition in the Court asking to expunge the Judge’s comments about the agency from the judgment, arguing it “damaged the reputation of the army, the ISI, and the judiciary.”[26]

Justice Siddiqui is currently facing two references against him in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the first pertaining to a corruption allegation filed by a CDA employee while the second pertaining to his critical remarks on the military-backed agreement between the Federal Government and Faizabad protestors, while hearing a petition last year.[27]

Troops in General Election 2018

The Code of Conduct issued by the ECP for General Election 2018 authorised the Army troops deployed inside the polling stations to have a coordinating role in result transmission. The Code stated that: “While performing duties inside the polling stations [the security personnel shall] coordinate in a manner that snapshot of Form 45 (Result of the Count) and tabulated result has been taken and sent through Result Transmission System (RTS) to (the) Election Commission and returning officer by respective presiding officers.” The ECP also gave designated Army personnel magisterial powers, which when used cannot be questioned under Article 245 of the Constitution.[28]

Soldier frisking a voter outside a polling station

Speaking on the matter in the Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani questioned this provision of powers to the army and their presence inside the polling stations. He asked if there would be military courts since the army officers have been given magisterial powers. “Whether it will be the presiding officer or army officer whose orders or view will be accepted,” Senator Rabbani said.[29] Later PPP leader Farhatullah Babar put forward his reservations on the provision of magisterial powers to army officers terming it controversial and the equivalent of rigging.[30]

Troops stand guard inside a polling station

The DG ISPR, during a press conference on July 10, announced a total of 371,388 troops would be deployed for election duty, which is the largest deployment during any Pakistani election till date. In comparison, the number of troops deployed during 2008 and 2013 election stood at 39,000 and 75,000 respectively.[31]

Army Chief Ratifies Death Sentences, PHC suspends military convictions

On July 3, 2018, the ISPR announced that the COAS ratified the death sentences of 12 terrorists, 4 of whom were involved in Parachinar Imam Bargah attack on March 31, 2017 which had claimed the lives of 22 civilians and had injured 130. The others were involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies. The ISPR also announced the acquittal of one individual.[32]

However, on July 6, 2018, Peshawar High Court stayed the execution of a suspect sentenced by the military court. The petition contended that the accused had been convicted without following due process.[33]

In a separate case, on July 10, Peshawar High Court suspended a death sentence of a suspect convicted by the military court. The accused’s mother submitted a petition claiming her son wasn’t given the chance of free trial. PHC suspended the sentence and directed the authorities to submit a reply in addition to the record of the case in court.[34]

COAS meets Foreign Diplomats & Military Officials

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff, met the following foreign diplomats and dignitaries during July 2018:

1- Ambassador Alice G. Wells, Principal Assistant Secretary, USA, called on the COAS on July 3, 2018, at the GHQ. The ISPR reported that issues of mutual interest, regional security, and cooperation between the two countries came under discussion.[35]

2- The COAS met with Afghan ambassador Dr. Omar Zakhilwal on July 4, 2018, to discuss the implementation of the bilateral ties framework, the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) and cooperation for peace in Afghanistan among other matters of security and mutual interests.[36]

Afghan Ambassador calling on the COAS at the GHQ

3- Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of General Staff Iranian Armed Forces, along with a high-level delegation visited the GHQ and called on the COAS on July 16, 2018. Matters of regional security, defence cooperation, and Pak-Iran border management came under discussion during the meeting.[37]

4- Admiral Ademir Sobrinho, Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces, visited the GHQ and called on the Chief of Army Staff on July 31, 2016. The two discussed the regional security situation, bilateral military cooperation, and measures to improve bilateral military engagement.[38]

COAS in a meeting with the Brazilian delegation along other military officials

Meeting of the National Security Committee

Caretaker Prime Minister, Justice (Retd) Nasir-ul-Mulk, chaired the 26th meeting of the National Security Committee on July 6, 2018.[39]

The meeting was attended by Lt. Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi, Minister for Defence, Mr. Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Shamshad Akhtar, Minister for Finance, Mr. Muhammad Azam Khan, Minister for Interior, Syed Ali Zafar, Minister for Law/Information, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, 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, Director General ISI Lt. Gen Naveed Mukhtar and senior civil and military officials.

Caretaker Prime Minister chairing meeting of the NSC

Minister for Finance Ms. Shamshad Akhtar, gave a detailed presentation to the participants about the deliberations during metings of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and International Co-operation Review Group held in Paris. The committee also discussed details of the Action Plan and the way forward.

Army Public Relations and Development Activities

Following activities were reported by the ISPR during the month of July:

  1. The ISPR organized a ‘Positive Pakistan’ photo competition on Twitter. The competition received 4,433 entries. The ISPR announced special prizes for top 39 participants and a token prize for every participant. DG ISPR thanked Pakistanis for participating in the competition and showing a ‘positive side’ of Pakistan. “Dear Pakistanis. Thanks for your encouraging participation”, he tweeted on July 4, 2018.[40]
  2. The COAS visited the under-construction Zalam Kot twin tube tunnel near Chakdara in Swat on July 7, 2018. The 81-km long Swat motorway is a vital cog in Pakistan’s regional trade plan. The COAS appreciated the quality of work and FWO’s efforts for the development and prosperity of the country.[41]
  3. The COAS attended Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Mr. Siraj Raisani’s funeral in Quetta, who lost his life along with 130 innocents during a suicide blast on his corner meeting in Mastung on July 13, 2018. Mr. Siraj Raisani was a candidate of BAP on a provincial seat PB-35. The COAS paid tribute to the late politician saying that “We have lost a diehard brave patriot Pakistani who shall be remembered for his commitment and contributions for Pakistan,” DG ISPR quoted COAS on Twitter.
COAS attending funeral of Mr. Siraj Raisani

PM-COAS Interactions

Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (Retd) Nasir ul Mulk and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa interacted once in July 2018 during the National Security Committee meeting chaired by the PM.

International Developments

Turkey Punishes Army, Civilian Officials involved in July 2016 Coup

On July 8, 2018, Turkish authorities, ordered the dismissal of 18,500 state officials including military, police personnel and academics two years after the attempted coup. The sacked officials are accused of having links with the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of being the mastermind of the failed coup. [42]

Mugabe Still a Political Force

Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, who was forced to resign by the military after holding the office for 37 years, still appears as a political force as he asked the voters to vote out the military party to bring the country back to constitutionality. The military had ousted Mugabe in November 2017, when he allegedly tried to position his wife as his successor.[43]

Soldiers patrol the streets in Harare

Zimbabwe went to polls on July 30, 2018, which were marked by violence and protests. There are allegations of rigging by the military to keep President Emmerson Mnangagwa in power.[44]


  1. Youtube, ‘Rana Iqbal Siraj PMLN blames spy agencies’, July 1, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_GmhXIUmBQ , (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  2. Dawn, ‘PML-N Candidate claims he was tortured’, July 1, 2018. https://www.dawn.com/news/1417203 (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  3. The Nation, ‘ISPR giving clarifications for about affairs: Nawaz’ July 11, 2018, https://nation.com.pk/11-Jul-2018/ispr-giving-clarifications-about-political-affairs-nawaz (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  4. Dawn, ‘No direct role of armed forces in conduct of elections: DG ISPR’ July 10, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1419183/no-direct-role-of-armed-forces-in-conduct-of-elections-dg-ispr (as accessed on August 02, 2018)
  5. Election Commission of Pakistan, Provincial Assemblies results, July 26, 2018, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1wQ7RptawM1C69l6gqdl2TESln2KqTAvY (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  6. The News, ‘No authority can interfere in Election matters: ECP’, July 3, 2018 https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/336856-no-authority-can-interfere-in-election-matters-ecp (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  7. Dawn, ‘No direct role of armed forces in conduct of elections: DG ISPR’ July 10, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1419183/no-direct-role-of-armed-forces-in-conduct-of-elections-dg-ispr (as accessed on August 02, 2018)
  8. Ibid
  9. Twitter, @DGISPR, 25 July, 2018, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1022109599690833920 (as accessed on August 9, 2018)
  10. Twitter, @peaceforchange, July 26, 2018, https://twitter.com/peaceforchange/status/1022469994867830784 (as accessed on August 9, 2018)
  11. European Union Election Observation Mission Islamic Republic of Pakistan, July 25, 2018. https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/eu_eom_pakistan_2018__preliminary_statement_on_25_july_elections.pdf (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  12. Commonwealth Election Observation Group Pakistan General Election, July 27, 2018, http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/inline/Interim%20Statement%20Final.pdf (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  13. Cristine Fair, Foreign Affiars, ‘Pakistan’s Sham Election’, July 27, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/pakistan/2018-07-27/pakistans-sham-election (as accessed on August 10, 2018)
  14. LA Times, ‘As Pakistan prepares for Elections, its powerful military appears to be meddling’ July 20, 2018, http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-pakistan-elections-20180720-story.html# (as accessed on August 9, 2018)
  15. ibid
  16. Ishaan Tharoor, the Washington Post, ‘Pakistan’s military has its fingerprints all over the elections’, July 25, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/07/25/pakistans-military-has-its-fingerprints-all-over-the-elections/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b607e1524144 (as accessed on August 9, 2018)
  17. The Guardian, ‘The Guardian view on Pakistan’s elections: Imran Khan’s real test is coming’, July 26, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/26/the-guardian-view-on-pakistans-elections-imran-khans-real-test-is-coming (as accessed on August 9, 2018)
  18. Youtube, ‘ISI is invlolved in manipulating Judicial Proceedings – Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’, July 21, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoStfCAWbXA (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  19. Dawn, ‘Justice Shaukat sees erosion of independence of judiciary’ July 22, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1421704/justice-shaukat-sees-erosion-of-independence-of-judiciary (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  20. Ibid
  21. Press Release, ISPR, July 22, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4837 (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  22. Dawn, ‘Justice Siddiqui asks CJP to from commission to probe his allegations against security agencies’, July 23, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1421783 (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  23. Dawn, ‘Rawalpindi district bar distances itself from Justice Siddiqui’s allegations, Supreme Court wants answers’, July 23, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1421993 (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  24. Dawn, ‘Burden of Proof on Justice Siddiqui as CJP begins probe’, July 23, 2018, https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/07/23/burden-of-proof-on-justice-siddiqui-as-cjp-begins-probe/ (as accessed on August, 2018)
  25. Dawn, Judge says he’s been treated as accused not complainant, July 25, 2018 https://www.dawn.com/news/1422436/judge-says-hes-being-treated-as-accused-not-complainant (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  26. Dawn, ISI asks IHC to expunge Justice Siddiqui’s remarks from order’, July 28, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1423371/isi-asks-ihc-to-expunge-justice-siddiquis-remarks-from-order
  27. Dawn, ‘Rawalpindi district bar distances itself from Justice Siddiqui’s allegations, Supreme Court wants answers’, July 23, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1421993 (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  28. The News, ‘ECP gives extended powers to army’, July 11, 2018. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/340253-ecp-gives-extended-powers-to-army (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  29. The News, ‘Senators raise serious questions over polls’ transparency’, July 22, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/344864-senators-raise-serious-questions-over-polls-transparency (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  30. Daily Times, ‘Magisterial powers to army can be equated with rigging’, July 25, 2018, https://dailytimes.com.pk/272911/magistrate-rights-to-army-officials-can-be-equated-with-rigging-farhatullah-babar/ (as accessed on August 9, 2018)
  31. Dawn, ‘No direct role of armed forces in conduct of elections: DG ISPR’ July 10, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1419183/no-direct-role-of-armed-forces-in-conduct-of-elections-dg-ispr (as accessed on August 02, 2018)
  32. Dawn, ‘Army chief ratifies death sentences of 12 terrorists’, July 3, 2018https://www.dawn.com/news/1417532/army-chief-ratifies-death-sentences-of-12-terrorists (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  33. The News, ‘Peshawar High Court suspends death sentence by military court’ July 6, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/338281-phc-suspends-death-sentence-by-military-court (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  34. The News, ‘Peshawar High Court suspends death sentence by military court, July 11, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/340281-phc-suspends-death-sentence-by-military-court (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  35. Press Release, ISPR, July 3, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-archive.php?cat=army&dt=2018-07-03 (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  36. Dawn, ‘COAS, Afghan envoy discuss framework implementation’ July 5, 2018,https://www.dawn.com/news/1418055/coas-afghan-envoy-discuss-framework-implementation (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  37. Press Release, ISPR, July 16, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-archive.php?cat=army&dt=2018-07-16 (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  38. Press Release, ISPR, July 31, 2018 https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-archive.php?cat=army&dt=2018-07-31 (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  39. Press Release, Prime Minister’s Office, July 6, 2018, http://www.pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=2367 (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  40. Express Tribune, ‘Thousands participate in ‘positive pakistan’ photo competition on Twitter’, July 5, 2018 https://tribune.com.pk/story/1749856/1-thousands-participate-positive-pakistan-photo-competition-twitter/ (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  41. Dawn, ‘COAS visits Swat Motorway tunnel’, July 8, 2018,https://www.dawn.com/news/1418625/coas-visits-swat-motorway-tunnel (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  42. The News, ‘Turkey sacks 18,500 staff involved in failed coup’, July 9, 2018https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/339300-turkey-sacks-18-500-staff-involved-in-failed-coup (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  43. Dawn, ‘Mugabe asks voters to throw his former party out of office’, July 30, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1423801/mugabe-asks-voters-to-throw-his-former-party-out-of-office (as accessed on August 2, 2018)
  44. BBC, ‘Shops shut in Harare as army patrols’, August 2, 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45040594 (as accessed on August 2, 2018)