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


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 constitutes ‘National Development Council’
  2. COAS addresses Seminar on “Pakistan’s Economy: Challenges and Way Forward”
  3. PM forms Commission to probe ‘rise in debt’ & includes ISI & MI reps as members
  4. Military agrees to forego yearly budget increment
  5. New DG ISI
  6. COAS meets foreign dignitaries
  7. PM-COAS Interactions
  8. International Developments

Prime Minister constitutes ‘National Development Council’

In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a ‘National Development Council’ with Chief of Army Staff as its member.

According to the notification by the Cabinet Division, the National Development Council (NDC), to be convened at the Prime Minister’s Office,[1] comprises following members:[2]

  1. Prime Minister – Chairman
  2. Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs – Member
  3. Federal Minister for Finance/Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance – Member
  4. Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform – Member
  5. Federal Minister for Commerce/Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries & Production and Investment – Member
  6. Chief of Army Staff – Member
  7. Provincial Chief Ministers, Prime Minister of AJ&K and Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan (on invitation) – Members
  8. Any additional minister/head of strategic body (on invitation) – Members
  9. Secretary to the Prime Minister – Member
  10. Secretary, Foreign Affairs Division – Member
  11. Secretary, Finance Division – Member
  12. Secretary, Planning, Development & Reforms Division – Member
  13. Additional Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office – Secretary Council

The Terms of Reference, as defined by the notification, state that the council shall set policies and strategies for development, formulate and tailor policies to achieve accelerated economic growth, approve long term planning for national and regional connectivity and provide guidelines for regional cooperation. It, however, left room for adding or amending the terms of reference in the future.

The formation of the National Development Council was criticized for being antithetical to the National Economic Council (NEC) defined by Article 156 of the Constitution of Pakistan. These concerns were also raised by Senator Raza Rabbani during a discussion on the budget in the Senate, “You cannot override Article 156 of the Constitution through a notification” he emphasized.[3] Some observers also opposed the idea of the inclusion of the Chief of Army Staff to the council, which would make the Pakistan Army an official part of the government’s economic policy planning and therefore exposing the institution of military to be politically partisan and open to criticism.

In its editorial on June 30, Dawn also wrote that “the PTI, by including the army chief in a top economic consultative body — the first time this has happened in a civilian government — will be much to blame if there are negative repercussions for the military’s public standing, and Gen Bajwa’s legacy.” [4]

COAS addresses Seminar on “Pakistan’s Economy: Challenges and Way Forward”

On June 28, 2019, COAS Gen Bajwa attended and addressed a seminar on “Pakistan’s Economy: Challenges and Way Forward” arranged at the National Defence University (NDU).[5] The Seminar was attended by various experts from the public and private sector. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh was invited to deliver the keynote address. During his address, COAS Gen Bajwa said, “We are going through difficult economic situation due to fiscal mismanagement. We have been shying of taking difficult decisions. Armed Forces played their part by voluntarily foregoing annual increase in defence budget and this is not the only step we are taking for improvement of economy. We understand that government has gone for difficult but quintessential decisions for long term benefits and what we are doing is playing our part. We all need to fulfil our responsibilities in this regard so that these difficult initiatives succeed. There are examples in recent past when other countries also confronted similar challenges and they came out successfully after taking difficult decisions. We shall also IA wade through these challenges”.[6] COAS Gen Bajwa blamed financial indiscipline of the past for the current economic crisis of the country.[7] He also stressed on the importance of economic stability in upholding the sovereignty of the country.

COAS addressing seminar on “Pakistan’s Economy- Challenges and Way forward” at National Defence University (NDU)

Daily Dawn has raised some pertinent issues associated with COAS’s comments on National Economy in its editorial of June 30:[8] the first principle, as Dawn wrote, is that “the military leadership should not allow itself to be side tracked from its core responsibilities [of maintaining border security]; the second principle of “maintaining the separation of powers as defined in the Constitution [which] strengthens institutions and, in turn, the overarching governance framework,” and that “by endorsing the PTI government’s actions, the army chief is expressing an overt political opinion,” which “is undesirable.”

The Dawn editorial goes on to put forward globally accepted democratic norms and reasons behind terming this undesirable: “Politics is seen as the art of the possible, which means it can — even in the most evolved democracies — require some bending of principles and the forging of improbable alliances. That is why it is best left to the politicians while other institutions remain above the fray.” Since “the armed forces play an important role in the conduct of elections, the appearance of impartiality on their part thus has a critical bearing on the credibility of the polls,” adds Dawn as another reason.

As in the nature of partisan politics, the PTI government is indeed alleging previous governments for mismanagement of the economy and as Dawn notes, not only that “Gen Bajwa’s remarks unnecessarily expose the military to accusations of encroaching on the political realm,” these also mean that the military chief is committing the institution of the military to a partisan political posture that is ill-suited and detrimental to the image of a national professional institution.

PM forms Commission to probe ‘rise in debt’ & includes ISI & MI reps as members

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the formation of a high-powered commission to probe into the causes of rise in national debt from 2008-2018 during a televised address to the Parliament on June 11, 2019. On June 12, 2019, he presided over a meeting to finalize the terms of reference of the commission formed under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017. [9] The commission will include senior officers from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Auditor General’s Office, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and others. It will not only investigate how Pakistan’s national debt increased by Rs. 24000 billion between 2008-2018 by probing into all ministries, divisions and ministers who spent public money but also work to bring back the money to the national exchequer in case of misappropriation.[10]

The formation of the commission evoked the opposition’s ire, who termed it as an attack on the sovereignty of the Parliament. “Those who don’t even know the ABC of economy will now review the decisions taken by the prime ministers, parliament and the cabinets,”, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said during the budget debate in the Parliament. “What do the officers of the ISI, IB and NAB know (about the economy)?”, he added.[11]

Military agrees to forego yearly budget increment

On June 4, 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that Pakistan military has voluntarily agreed to budget cuts this year: “I appreciate Pak [Military’s] unprecedented voluntary initiative of stringent cuts in their defence expenditures for next [Financial Year] [because] of our critical financial situation, despite multiple security challenges. My govt will spend this money saved on dev of merged tribal areas & Balochistan.”[12]

The military’s spokesperson, DG ISPR Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, on June 5, 2019 tweeted that “Voluntary cut in def budget for a year will not be at the cost of [defence] & security. We shall [maintain] effective response potential to all threats. Three services will manage impact of the cut through appropriate internal measures. It was [important] to participate in [development] of tribal areas & [Balochistan].”[13]


On June 16, 2019, it was announced that Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed has been appointed as the new Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).[14] He has replaced Lt. Gen. Asim Muneer, who was appointed as DG ISI in October 2018 but only served in the post for eight months and has now been given the job to command the Gujranwala Corps. Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed was one of the four major generals promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in April 2019. He has earlier served as the head of internal security wing of the ISI, and after his promotion, was appointed as adjutant general at the General Headquarters (GHQ) [15] in April, which turned out to be a short stint, and he has now been brought back as the DG ISI.[16]

Newly appointed DG ISI with PM at the PM’s Office

On assumption of his charge, the newly appointed DG ISI called on PM Imran Khan on June 18, 2019 at the Prime Minister’s Office.[17]

COAS meets foreign dignitaries

  1. General Han Weiguo, Commander People Liberation Army, Ground Forces of China, People Republic of China, called on COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ on June 17, 2019.[18]
General Han Weiguo, Commander People Liberation Army, People Republic of China called on COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa
  1. Lieutenant General (Staff) Pilot Muhammad Salim Al Araji, Acting Secretary Defence (Administration), and Chief of Logistic Staff, Iraqi Ministry of Defence, called on COAS Gen Bajwa at the GHQ on June 19, 2019.[19]
Lieutenant General (Staff) Pilot Muhammad Salim Al Araji, Acting Secretary Defence (Administration) and Chief of Logistic Staff, Iraqi Ministry of Defence called with COAS Gen Bajwa at the GHQ
  1. COAS Gen Bajwa arrived in the United Kingdom on June 20, 2019 on an official visit. He visited the Ministry of Defence and met Gen Sir Nick Carter on June 24, 2019.[20]
COAS at UK Ministry of Defence
  1. COAS interacted with Sir Mark Sedwill, UK National Security Advisor, and Cabinet Secretary at the Cabinet Office and Mr. Stephen Lovegrove, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, at the UK Ministry of Defence on June 25, 2019.[21] COAS Bajwa also watched the Pakistan’s Cricket World Cup match against South Africa at the Lord’s Cricket Stadium. He was accompanied by DG ISPR, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor and British Foreign Secretary Mr. Jeremy Hunt.[22]
COAS with Sir Mark Sedwill NSA at the UK Ministry of Defence
COAS Bajwa and DG ISPR Ghafoor watching Pakistan vs South Africa at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London on June 23, 2019

PM-COAS Interactions

No interaction between the Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS Gen Bajwa was reported in June 2019.

International Developments

Ethiopia’s Army Chief and top leader killed during attempted coup

In an attempted coup allegedly masterminded by General Asamnew Tsige, five people including the nation’s Chief of Army staff and Amhara’s State President were gunned down in coordinated attacks on June 22, 2019.[23] Army chief of staff Seare Mekonnen and a retired general were shot by Seare’s bodyguard at his residence in the national capital Addis Ababa while Amhara state president Ambachew Mekonnen and an adviser were killed in the region’s main city Bahir Dar. Attorney General of Ethiopia was also shot and succumbed to his wounds.

Asamnew was released last year after spending a year in prison for an attempted coup in 2009. According to reports, he had started recruiting and arming ethnic Amhara people into militias to fight the federal government and other ethnic groups. General Asamnew and some co-plotters were arrested by the government soon after the killings. General Asamnew was shot dead on Monday June 24, 2019, two days after the violence according to a government official.[24]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announces a failed coup as he addresses the nation on June 23, 2019

Crisis in Sudan continues

The crisis in Sudan continues as the deadlock between the ruling military council and the opposition persists. At least 100 people were killed on June 3, 2019 amid crackdown on protestors by security forces during protests. Reports of mass rape and brutal violence rocked the country. The military council shut down communication lines including the internet and banned media houses like Al Jazeera from reporting in Sudan. Ethiopia and African Union (AU) stepped in to act as mediators and proposed a 15-member ruling council, including 8 civilians and 7 representatives from the military, to rule for the next three years. The opposition, the Freedom and Change alliance, accepted the proposal, however, the ruling Transition Military Council (TMC) expressed reservations over the proposal. While the African Union wants civilian rule, countries like Egypt have lent support to the current setup.

The opposition once again called for a protest on June 30, 2019, the 30th anniversary of the Al-Bashir led coup.[25]

Protestors in Sudan shout slogans demanding an end to military rule during a demonstration


  1. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1488948 (accessed July 3, 2019)
  2. Ibid
  3. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1489439 (accessed July 3, 2019)
  4. Dawn.Com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1491183/army-chiefs-remarks (accessed July 09, 2019).
  5. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5348 (accessed July 3, 2019)
  6. Ibid
  7. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1491025/coas-blames-past-decisions-for-fiscal-mess (accessed July 3, 2019)
  8. Dawn.Com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1491183/army-chiefs-remarks (accessed July 09, 2019).
  9. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1487896/pm-aides-discuss-terms-of-reference-for-probe-into-rise-in-debt (accessed July 3, 2019)
  10. Ibidi
  11. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1489881/pml-n-questions-sleuths-role-in-debt-probe-body (accessed July 3, 2019)
  12. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/ImranKhanPTI/status/1135971466552512520 (accessed July 3, 2019)
  13. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1136003059476324353 (accessed July 3, 2019)
  14. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5339 (accessed July 2, 2019)
  15. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1488568/lt-gen-faiz-hameed-named-new-dg-isi-govt-spokesperson (accessed July 2, 2019)
  16. Daily Times, [Website], 2019, https://dailytimes.com.pk/413429/lt-gen-faiz-hameed-is-new-dg-isi/ (accessed July 8, 2019)
  17. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1489061/isi-chief-meets-pm (accessed July 3, 2019)
  18. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5340 (accessed July 2, 2019)
  19. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5344 (accessed July 2, 2019)
  20. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1143141944580853760 (accessed July 3, 2019)
  21. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1143469670755897346 (accessed July 3, 2019)
  22. Geo.tv, [Website], 2019, https://www.geo.tv/latest/241192-coas-gen-bajwa-at-lords-to-watch-pakistan-south-africa-world-cup-match (accessed July 8, 2019)
  23. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1490056/ethiopias-army-chief-killed-amid-regional-coup-bid (accessed July 3, 2019)
  24. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1490285/ethiopias-regional-coup-mastermind-killed-others-arrested (accessed July 3, 2019)
  25. Al Jazeera.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/march-sudanese-renew-protests-demand-civilian-rule-190630122106508.html (accessed July 4, 2019)