PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | October 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. PM’s Warning
  2. Appointment of new DG ISI
  3. Former PML-N lawmaker stirs controversy over remarks on Civil-military relations
  4. IHC Judge removed for accusing Intelligence Agencies
  5. Prime Minister’s visit to Balochistan
  6. EU EOM Report on General Election 2018
  7. 214th Corps Commanders Conference
  8. COAS Meets Foreign Diplomats and Military Officials
  9. COAS confirms Death Sentences
  10. Peshawar High Court sets aside Military Court Sentences
  11. PM-COAS Interactions
  12. International Developments

PM’s Warning

On October 31, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the nation in the wake of agitation in the country against the Supreme Court verdict to acquit Asia Bibi, warned the agitators to not clash with the State. During his address, Prime Minister Khan regretted the language used by hardliners against Supreme Court Judges, the Army Chief and the leadership of the armed forces.

Many commentators believed that the Prime Minister in his address to the nation should not have narrated, almost verbatim, what TLP leaders had said about Judges and the Army.[1] Journalist Syed Talat Hussain tweeted that “Amazing! PM Imran Khan has chosen to tell the whole nation what the national media has been leaving out of its coverage throughout the day— protestors slogans against the Army Chief and the Chief Justice!” [2]

Appointment of new DG ISI

Newly-appointed DG ISI Lt. Gen. Asim Munir

On October 10, the ISPR announced that Lt. Gen. Asim Munir has been appointed as the new Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence. The appointment of the head of the ISI is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. It is unclear what process preceded the appointment of the new DG-ISI.

The last two DG ISI appointments were also announced by the ISPR. The appointment of former DG ISI Zaheer ul Islam in 2012, however, was announced by the Prime Minister’s Office.[3]

The announcement was shared by the ISPR as part of 6 other internal appointments in the Pakistan Army and was titled as “Following appointments of Lt Gens announced.”[4] The press release announced appointments of Lieutenant Generals to various posts within the Army such as Lt Gen Azhar Saleh Abbasi as Chief of Logistics Staff, GHQ, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Zaki, Comd Mangla Corps., Lt. Gen. Shaheen Mazher, Comd Peshawar Corps., Lt. Gen. Abdul Aziz, as Military Secretary GHQ and Lt. Gen. Muhammad Adnan, VCGS (B).

Mr. Asim Munir was reportedly promoted as a three-star general on September 28 and was previously heading the Military Intelligence as DG and to assume office on the retirement of incumbent DG ISI, Lt. Gen Naveed Mukhtar on October 25.[5]

Former PML-N lawmaker stirs controversy over remarks on Civil-military relations

In an interview to Samaa TV on October 2, former PML-N lawmaker Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, member of Punjab Assembly from 2002-2018; Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly 2008-2013 and Provincial Minister 2013-1018, stirred controversy after suggesting that the military played a role in bringing PTI to power.[6] He further suggested that they (Military) have now realized that PTI is not up to the task. While talking to Geo News, he further suggested that ‘Punjab government may end in two months’.[7] The remarks elicited a strong response from the military. DG ISPR Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor tweeted that “Attribution of an obvious vested statement by Rana Mashhood is baseless and regrettable. Such irresponsible expressions are detrimental to stability in the country”[8] The military’s media wing was quick to respond to Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan, as opposed to allegations of election meddling from other political leaders. Soon after the General Election 2018, ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan had blamed ECP, the Judiciary and Security agencies for massive rigging, “We can easily win elections if they’re held under human supervision and not under ‘aliens’, he said while addressing a crowd in Charsadda.[9] On October 21, in an interview with Saleem Safi, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “The elections were neither fair nor transparent”. He termed the election process ‘flawed’. The former Prime Minister said it is the ‘worst democracy’ but we are sitting in the assemblies only because we do not want to discourage democratic culture in the country.[10]

PML-N later disowned the comments by Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan and called for an explanation from him. Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, PML-N spokesperson, said that, “the statement is surprising”. Former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that, “Someone’s remarks in their private capacity cannot be attributed to the party.” He further said that the PML-N will not support any undemocratic force and is not in favour of forming governments through undemocratic measures.[11]

IHC Judge removed for accusing intelligence agencies

On October 11, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who had earlier accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of interfering in the judicial proceedings against Mr. Nawaz Sharif, was removed as Judge of the Islamabad High Court by President Arif Alvi on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. He became only the second Judge in the history of the country to be handed a negative opinion by the Supreme Judicial Council. The first Judge to be given a negative opinion by the SJC was Justice Ikhlaq Husaain in 1960 during General Ayub’s regime.[12]

“The council is unanimously of the opinion that in the matter of making his speech before the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi on [July 21] Mr. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui […] had displayed conduct unbecoming of a judge of a high court and was, thus, guilty of misconduct and he is, therefore, liable to be removed from his office under Article 209(6) of the Constitution,” the communication read.

Justice Siddiqui said the bench did not heed to his request for conducting the trial in open court and no effort was made to ascertain the veracity of his allegations. On October 26, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, challenged his removal in the Supreme Court through a petition stating that he was sacked without following due process and that the “Inquiry was not conducted over my allegations.”[13] In his petition, the former Judge stated that Major General Faiz Hameed, Deputy Director General (Internal) of ISI, inquired about procedure of hearing appeals in the High Court and conviction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Justice Siddiqui’s residence, which was strange considering how certain the ISI official was of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s conviction. According to the former Judge, he answered the case would be decided based on merit, to which he replied, “Is tarah tou hamari 2 saal ki mehnat zaya hojayegi”.[14] He further claimed that Major General Faiz Hameed sought assurance that Nawaz Sharif’s bail application would not be heard before General Election 2018.[15]

On July 21, while addressing the Rawalpindi Bar Association, Justice Siddiqui had accused ISI of “manipulating judicial proceedings as its officials manage to constitute benches at its will and mark cases to selected judges.”[16] He had claimed that ISI had approached Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi and told him that they did not want former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter released before election.[17] It should be noted that taking note of these comments, the ISPR had issued a press release on July 22, 2018, which said that, “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.”[18]

Prime Minister’s Visit to Balochistan

COAS Gen Bajwa and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal receiving Prime Minister Khan at Quetta airbase

On October 6, Prime Minister Imran Khan made his maiden visit to Quetta where Chief Minister of Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan, and COAS Gen. Bajwa received him at the Quetta airbase. Apart from meeting members of the Balochistan Assembly, Prime Minister was given a security briefing at the Headquarters of the Southern Command. Prime Minister said in Quetta that “through a comprehensive national effort, cooperation between Federal and Provincial Governments and assistance of Army we shall realise the true potentials of Balochistan. Only a cohesive national effort shall, God willing, take Provinces and the country to the rightful destination of peace, progress and prosperity”.[19] Federal Minister of Information, Mr. Fawad Chaudhry and Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Reforms, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, accompanied the Prime Minister at the briefing. Federal Minister of Defence, Mr. Pervez Khattak, did not accompany the Prime Minister.

EU EOM Report on General Election 2018

In its final report on General Election 2018 issued on October 26, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has called for limiting the presence of security personnel to outside the polling station. “The code of conduct for security officials issued by the ECP on July 6 increased the powers and role of security personnel posted inside and outside of polling stations, including the provision of a parallel structure to report irregularities if the presiding officer did not take action, thus negating the civilian ownership of the electoral process. While a secure environment for voters, candidates and polling staff is essential, the deployment of large numbers of soldiers, and their presence inside polling stations with expanded powers, can result in voter intimidation”, the report said.[20]

The report stated further, “Most interlocutors acknowledged a systematic effort to undermine the former ruling party through cases of corruption, contempt of court and terrorist charges against its leaders and candidates. The pre-electoral environment was marred by allegations of influence on the electoral process by the military-led establishment and the active role of the judiciary in political affairs, including through its special suo moto jurisdiction”.[21]

The European Union Election Observation Mission was the largest Election Observation mission to Pakistan comprising a core team of 10 analysts based in Islamabad and 60 long-term observers deployed across Pakistan. The EU EOM was present in Pakistan from June 24, 2018 to August 23, 2018. In its preliminary report issued in July 2018, the mission had noted that, “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.”[22]

It must be noted that on October 13, while in London, DG ISPR, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor has termed the July 25 polls as the most transparent election held in the history of the country.[23]

214th Corps Commanders Conference

COAS presiding over the 214th Corps Commanders Conference at the GHQ

The 214th Corps Commanders Conference was held at the GHQ on October 1, presided by COAS Gen. Bajwa. The forum discussed the performance of security agencies in the on-going operations including Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad and the successful maintenance of security during Moharram. COAS Bajwa informed the forum about his visit to China.[24]

COAS Meets Foreign Heads, Diplomats and Military Officials

COAS in a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II and his son Crown Prince Hussein
  • COAS called on the King of Jordan, King Abdullah II, on a three-days visit to Jordan on October 2. The two discussed regional security situation and bilateral cooperation including security, defence production and education. The King awarded ‘Order of the Military Merit’ to Gen. Bajwa for recognition of his services to improve bilateral ties between the two countries.[25]
H.E. Mr.. Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul, Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan, with COAS Gen Bajwa
  • Ambassador of Turky to Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul, called on the COAS at the GHQ on October 8, 2018. The two reportedly discussed regional security and matters of mutual interest.
Pakistan Army delegation led by COAS Gen Bajwa in UK
  • COAS Gen Bajwa led a military delegation to the United Kingdom on October 12, where he met prominent civilian and military leaders including UK Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Sir Nicholson Carter, UK Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. Gavin Williamson, Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SREP), Mr. Gareth Bayley and National Security Advisor (NSA), Mr. Mark Sedwill. COAS was presented with Guard of Honour. According to the ISPR, “The discussions ranged from the bilateral bond created by the sizeable Pakistan diaspora in Britain as well as shared interests in evolving global geopolitical and geo-economic environment.” [26]
  • The COAS visited Italy on October 17 and called on the Italian Defence Minister, Chief of Italian Army and the Secretary General of Defence. COAS Bajwa was presented with demonstrations of Italian defence capabilities both for land and amphibious operations.[27]
Colonel General Elchin Guliyev, Chief of State Border Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan, called on COAS at the GHQ
  • Colonel General Elchin Guliyev, Chief of State Border Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan, called on the COAS at the GHQ on October 23. He was presented a Guard of Honour upon arrival. Matters of mutual and professional interest were discussed during the meeting.[28]
Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Qatar called on COAS
  • Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar, called on COAS Gen Bajwa on October 19. The two discussed matters of mutual interest and regional security.[29]
Ambassador Paul Jones, US Charge’ d’ Affairs to Pakistan called on COAS at the GHQ.
  • Ambassador Paul Jones, US Charge’ d’ Affairs to Pakistan, called on COAS Gen Bajwa at the GHQ on October 22. Matters of mutual interest including regional security with particular reference to Afghanistan were discussed.[30]
Mr Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan called on COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ
  • Mr Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan, called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) at GHQ on October 23.[31]
Major General Saleh Mohammad Saleh Megren Al-Ameri, Commander of UAE Land Forces called on COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ
  • Major General Saleh Mohammad Saleh Megren Al-Ameri, Commander of UAE Land Forces, called on the COAS at the GHQ on October 29. Regional security and issues of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting.[32]

COAS confirms death sentences

On October 26, COAS Gen Bajwa confirmed death sentences awarded to 14 hardcore terrorists involved in attacking Armed Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, killing of civilians and destruction of educational institution and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Hotel Malam Jabba. According to the ISPR, these terrorists were involved in killing of 22 persons including 3 civilians, 19 Security personnel and injuring 23 others. The convicts were tried by Special military courts, which handed 8 imprisonments besides the death sentences.[33]

Peshawar High Court sets aside Military Court Sentences

On October 19, Peshawar High Court had set aside convictions of 74 suspected militants most of whom were sentenced to death by military courts.[34] Presenting the case in front of the Divisional Bench comprising of Justice Waqas Ahmed Seth and Justice Lal Jan Khattak, the council for the accused Advocate Shabbir Gigyani argued that, “The judgement comes in the absence of any evidence except confessional statement, which was too recorded after lapse of years of arrest, unfair trial, and violation of articles 4, 10A, 12 and 25 of the constitution as well as violation of section 91 of Army act and absence of jurisdiction with military court.”, hence they do not fulfill the requirements for a conviction under the law.[35] They further argued that the same defence lawyer was provided to the accused, who was inexperienced since he ‘did his LLB in 2015’.[36]

These military courts were initially set up under the Constitution (Twenty-first Amendment) Act, 2015, for trying terrorists attached with militant outfits using the name of religion or sect. The said law was enacted on Jan 7, 2015 and had a sunset clause for two years. The tenure of the military courts, however, was extended for another two years by amending the Constitution in 2017.[37]

PM-COAS Interactions

The Prime Minister and COAS interacted twice during October:

  • The Prime Minister was received by COAS at Quetta airbase on October 6. He later received a security briefing at Headquarters Southern Command where the COAS was also present.
COAS called on the PM Imran Khan at the PM House on October 31
  • COAS called on the Prime Minister at the PM House on October 31 to discuss the prevailing security situation in the wake of countrywide protests against the Supreme Court’s decision in Asia Bibi case.[38]

Federal Minister of Defence was not part of both the interactions.

International Developments

The Philippine President puts Customs Bureau under military control

Rodrigo Duterte

The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte put the Bureau of Customs under military control on October 28 after two large shipments of drugs slipped past the bureau through Manila. Duterte cited a state of ‘lawlessness’ for putting the military in control. He accused the bureau officials of corruption and ordered them to operate from a gymnasium in the presidential palace. “With this kind of game that they are playing, dirty games, I am forced now to ask the armed forces to take over”, he said.

The opposition parties have questioned the legality of the move citing the constitutional principle of civilian supremacy. “This is backdoor dictatorship. He should stop treating the military as his personal troubleshooting department”, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, an opposition leader, said.

Duterte started a crackdown on illegal drugs after coming to power in June 2016, which has claimed the lives of five thousand alleged drug dealers in clashes with law enforcement agencies. Human rights groups have criticized the President for Police brutality and unlawful killings during the crackdown.[39]


  1. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, https://twitter.com/ABMPildat/status/1058000675127394306, November 1, 2018, 7:19 am, (accessed on November 6, 2018)
  2. Syed Talat Hussain, https://twitter.com/TalatHussain12/status/1057647819870347264, October 31, 2018, 7:57 am (accessed November 06, 2018)
  3. Express Tribune.com, [website], The chosen one: Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam named new spymaster, 2012, https://tribune.com.pk/story/348040/the-chosen-one-lt-gen-zahaeerul-islam-named-new-spymaster/ (accessed November 12, 2018)
  4. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4977, (accessed November 6, 2018)
  5. Dawn.com, [website], Asim Munir made new ISI Chief, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1438243/asim-munir-made-new-isi-chief (accessed November 5, 2018)
  6. Youtube.com, [website], Rana Mashood 1-on-1 Interview | SAMAA TV – 02 October , 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9igPCMGrL0 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  7. Geo TV, [website], Rana Mashhood sees the situation changing in Punjab, 2018, https://www.geo.tv/latest/213325-rana-mashood-sees-the-situation-in-punjab-changing (accessed November 5, 2018)
  8. OfficialDGISPR, Twitter.com, [website], 2018, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1047169872352960513 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  9. Express Tribune.com, [website], ANP chief demands re-elections san forces’ deployment, 2018, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1769416/1-anp-chief-demands-re-elections-san-forces-deployment/ (accessed November 6, 2018)
  10. Youtube.com, [website], Jirga – 21 October 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4wMiAs1vhs (accessed November 6, 2018)
  11. Dawn.com, [website], ‘Punjab govt may end in two months,’ claims PML-N’s Rana Mashhood, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1436383/punjab-govt-may-end-in-two-months-claims-pml-ns-rana-mashhood (accessed November 5, 2018)
  12. Dawn.com, [website], IHC judge sacked for accusing ISI of interference, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1438436 (accessed November 6, 2018)
  13. The News.Com.Pk [website] Justice Shaukat Siddiqui challenges his removal in SC, October 26, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/385870-justice-shaukat-siddiqui-challenges-his-removal-in-sc (accessed on November 6, 2018)
  14. Twitter.com, [website], 2018, https://twitter.com/sameer1_abbasi/status/1055739672570355712 (accessed November 6, 2018)
  15. Express Tribune.com, [website], SC registrar objects to sacked IHC judge’s petition, 2018, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1838596/1-sc-rejects-siddiquis-petition-removal/ (accessed November 6, 2018)
  16. 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)
  17. Ibid
  18. Press Release, ISPR, July 22, 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4837 (as accessed on August 7, 2018)
  19. Syed Ali Shah, Dawn.com, [website], Federal govt will facilitate provincial set-up in building a ‘Naya Balochistan’: PM Khan, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1437208 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  20. Dawn.com, [website], Army should only be deployed outside polling stations: EU mission, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1441724/army-should-only-be-deployed-outside-polling-stations-eu-mission (accessed November 5, 2018)
  21. European Union External Action, [website], Final Report European Union Election Observation Mission Islamic Republic of Pakistan, General Elections 25 July 2018, https://cdn1-eeas.fpfis.tech.ec.europa.eu/cdn/farfuture/7OsUPfcoQp4IOwOLiZfEi1dOhrRtwb_1lar-9AxZvQk/mtime:1540558548/sites/eeas/files/final_report_pakistan_2018_english.pdf (accessed November 5, 2018)
  22. 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)
  23. Dawn.com, [website], ISPR chief terms July 25 polls most transparent, https://www.dawn.com/news/1438883/ispr-chief-terms-july-25-polls-most-transparent (accessed November 5, 2018)
  24. Inter Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4962 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  25. Dawn.com, [website], 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1436517/jordanian-king-coas-discuss-regional-security (accessed November 5, 2018)
  26. Dawn.com, [website], COAS Bajwa meets top British civil-military officials in UK visit, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1438541/coas-bajwa-meets-top-british-civil-military-officials-in-uk-visit (accessed November 5, 2018)
  27. Inter-Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4991 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  28. Inter-Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5000 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  29. OfficialDGISPR, Twitter.com, [website], 2018, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1053501481196888064 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  30. OfficialDGISPR, Twitter.com, [website], 2018, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1054349196311121920 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  31. Inter-Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5005 (accessed November, 2018)
  32. Inter-Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5009 (accessed November 5, 2018)
  33. Inter-Services Public Relations, [website], 2018, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5004 (accessed November, 2018)
  34. Dawn.com, [website], PHC sets aside conviction of 74 ‘militants’ by military courts, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1439941/phc-sets-aside-conviction-of-74-militants-by-military-courts (accessed November 5, 2018)
  35. Express Tribune.com, [website], PHC sets aside sentences of 74 military court convicts, 2018, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1829006/1-phc-sets-aside-sentences-74-military-court-convicts/ (accessed November 12, 2018)
  36. Ibid
  37. Dawn.com, [website], PHC sets aside conviction of 74 ‘militants’ by military courts, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1439941 (accessed November 12, 2018)
  38. Pakistan Today.com, [website], PM, COAS review security situation, 2018, https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/10/31/pm-coas-review-security-situation/ (accessed November 5, 2018)
  39. Gulf News.com, [website], Duterte puts Customs under military control, citing drugs, 2018, https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/philippines/duterte-puts-customs-under-military-control-citing-drugs-1.2295218 (accessed November 6, 2018)