PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | September 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. PM Imran Khan at the Asia Society
  2. Institutionalising Decision-Making on National Security; First Year of PTI Federal Government
  3. PTM MNAs released on bail
  4. Army Public Relations Activities
  5. Army aids in Earthquake relief activities
  6. COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries
  7. PM-COAS Interactions
  8. International Developments

PM Imran Khan at the Asia Society

Prime Minister Imran Khan Speaking at the Asia Society, New York on September 26, 2019

On September 26, while speaking at the Asia Society, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that, in his apparent endeavour to improve relations with Pakistan during the tenure of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘tried to differentiate between the Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] and the Pakistan Army by saying that the Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] is a good man, but the Pakistan Army is a terrorist organisation.’ [1]

In the context of Mr. Modi’s visit to Pakistan in December 2015 to present-day hostilities between Pakistan and India, President and CEO Asia Society, Josette Sheeran, asked Prime Minister Imran Khan that why do you think Prime Minister Modi travelled to Pakistan…. and how did we go from Modi’s trip to Pakistan to this, and why, [and] where is that Modi?’

In response, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that, “first of all, Narendra Modi came to Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; while he visited Pakistan, not once did he not stop trying to push Pakistan into being declared a terrorist state; and he tried to differentiate between the Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] and the Pakistan Army; he kept saying that the Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] is a good man, but the Pakistan Army is a terrorist organisation.”

Institutionalising Decision-Making on National Security; First Year of PTI Federal Government

A PILDAT performance assessment of the National Security Committee during the first year of the PTI Federal Government in office (August 2018-August 2019) shows that periodicity of the NSC meetings improved. A total of 6 meetings were convened by Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan during August 2018-2019.

The National Security Committee (NSC) was formed in 2013 as a ‘principle decision-making body on national security’ to ‘focus on the national security agenda with the aim to formulate a national security policy.’ During his first year in office, Prime Minister Imran Khan has convened NSC meetings in response to crises only, and not on weekly basis as is the practice in established democracies with similar bodies meeting as a forum of regular consultation on national security agenda.

Even though the NSC meetings were convened 6 times during his first year in office, pro-activity of NSC as a forum of regular consultation on national security agenda has not improved. Prime Minister Imran Khan has met and interacted with Chief of Army Staff 41 times between August 18, 2019 to August 17, 2019. The lack of focus on institutionalising the relationship between the elected political government and the military leadership is also reflected in the fact that Federal Minister for Defence, Mr. Pervaiz Khattak, was present in only 13 or 32% of the 41 meetings held between Mr. Imran Khan and General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

This pattern of personalised interaction between successive Prime Ministers and Chiefs of the Army Staff was not much different during the first year of former Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif who met Chiefs of Army Staff (outgoing COAS Gen. Kayani and newly appointed COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif) a total of 31 times during 2013-2014. Granted though that initially Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif retained the portfolio of Defence himself, but once he gave Defence Ministry as an additional charge to Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Defence Minister was only present in 5 or 14% of the meetings.

MNAs released on bail

On September 21, ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to USA, the two Pro-PTM MNAs from Waziristan, Mr. Ali Wazir and Mr. Mohsin Dawar were released on bail from jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Haripur district after the two lawmakers were granted by the Peshawar High Court. [2]

During the proceedings of the National Assembly on September 30, 2019, Mr. Mohsin Dawar, MNA, speaking on a point of order, denied any involvement in an attack on Security forces. He reiterated that they were unarmed and are ready to accept any punishment, if proved otherwise. He also criticized the media for presenting a one sided picture.[3]

Answering Mr. Mohsin Dawar, Federal Minister for Defence Mr. Pervaiz Khattak, MNA said that “The army also wants to come out from there [Waziristan]. If your agenda is Pakistan, then I am ready to hold talks with you. However, if you continue to talk against the institution which has ensured security and peace in the country, then you will not be heard”. Minister for Interior, Brig. (Retd.) Ijaz Shah repeated the offer in his speech, “Raise the slogan of Pakistan and come with me we will do whatever you want,”. “If you want to become a mainstream party, then come up with your demands. Tell us and we will sit with the prime minister”, he added.[4] Mr. Dawar earlier stated in his speech that it is the State who has to prove its loyalty to us, not the other way around.

Commenting on the situation, Dawn in its editorial stated, “Parliament offers a platform where its members can disagree, even disagree strongly, with each other on important issues that concern the people they represent. However, to use it to accuse fellow legislators of treachery is an abuse of that privilege; indeed, such allegations undermine the very purpose of the institution — to bring together the many parts that make up the whole of Pakistan. Mr. Wazir and Mr. Dawar were elected by the people of Waziristan to represent them. To impute a sinister ‘agenda’ to them and question their patriotic credentials is tantamount to casting the same aspersions on their electorate.” [5]

Army Public Relations Activities

  1. COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa interacted with youth from Sindh on September 3, 2019. “Change can only be brought about by youth. You must”, he said while addressing them.[6]
COAS’ Group photo with youth from Sindh
  1. ISPR hosted a group of Turkish journalists on September 16, 2019. The delegation was briefed on Pakistan-India February stand-off, the situation along Line of Control and human rights violations in under siege Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. The group was taken to Muzaffarabad and Chokthi on the following days, to interact with locals and civilian victims of Indian ceasefire violations.[7]
Turkish journalists at ISPR on September 16, 2019
  1. COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa met Pakistani Boxer Muhammad Waseem on September 18, 2019, who recently returned to the country after a win against his opponent. “Talent like you is our pride, we are here to support youngsters like you having potential and positive energy”, COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa told him.[8]
COAS Gen Bajwa with Boxer Muhammad Waseem
  1. COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa interacted with students and faculty of various educational institutions of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, members of Youth Parliament Pakistan from AJ&K and members of Youth State Assembly from Azad Jammu and Kashmir at ISPR on September 26, 2019. He said that the Kashmir dispute has to be solved as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. He urged the youth to stay steadfast, work hard and believe in themselves.[9]
COAS Gen Bajwa with Students from Kashmir
  1. COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa interacted with Tribal elders from North and South Waziristan Districts on September 27, 2019. He urged tribal elders to continue playing a role in guiding their youth.[10] According to ISPR, the Tribal leaders assured COAS of their support and requested for the speedy completion of the development projects in the area.
COAS addressing Tribal elders from Waziristan

Army aids in Earthquake relief activities

COAS Gen Bajwa directed the armed forces to aid the civil administration in rescue and relief activities after an earthquake hit parts of the northern Punjab, KP and AJK (Mirpur and Muzaffarabad) on September 24, 2019. Troops were dispatched with aviation and medical support teams to carry out relief activities.[11] COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa visited the earth quake affected areas in Azad Jammu & Kashmir on September 25, 2019, to oversee the damage repair efforts.[12]

COAS Gen Bajwa visiting flood affected areas in Azad Jammu & Kashmir

COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries

  1. Military Advisor to Saudi Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Talal Abdul­lah al Otaibi, called on COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ on September 12, 2019.[13]
  2. A US delegation led by General Kenneth F. Mc Kenzie Jr, Commander US CENTCOM, called on COAS General Qamar Bajwa on September 19, 2019. The delegation discussed Geo-strategic environment and regional security including Afghanistan and the Kashmir situation.[14]
US delegation led by General Kenneth F. Mc Kenzie Jr, Commander US CENTCOM, at the GHQ
  1. Mr Sheikh Ali Bn Abdulla Thani Al-Thani, Chief Executive of the International Islamic Bank & Member of the Ruling Family of the State of Qatar, called on COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa on September 26, 2019 at the GHQ.[15]
Mr Sheikh Ali Bn Abdulla Thani Al-Thani with COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa

PM-COAS Interactions

  1. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the line of Control at Azad Jammu Kashmir on September 6, 2019 where he was accompanied by COAS Gen Bajwa. Federal Minister for Defence Mr. Pervaiz Khattak was also present on the occasion.[16]
Prime Minister Imran Khan with COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa in Kashmir on September 6, 2019
  1. COAS Gen Bajwa called on PM Imran Khan at the Prime Minister’s Office on September 18, 2019. Also present in the meeting was DG ISI. Federal Minister for Defence, Mr. Pervaiz Khattak, was not part of the interaction.[17]
Prime Minister Imran Khan with COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa and DG-ISI Lt. Gen Faiz Hameed at Prime Minister’s Office

International Developments

Myanmar to hold Court Martial over Rohingya atrocities

After mounting international pressure, Myanmar military has stated that it is conducting court martials after an internal investigation found “weakness in following instructions”.[18]

A military operation in the Muslim majority Rakhine state allegedly drove out 740,000 people into Bangladesh. There have been allegations of mass graves in the violence hit state. Reports on the incident described gruesome violence at the hands of Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist vigilantes, who allegedly attacked villagers with guns, knives, rocket launchers and grenades before dumping bodies into pits and dousing them with acid. The UN in a report called for prosecuting Myanmar Generals for genocide for overseeing the operation in Rakhine State.

A military spokesperson said that a court martial will “proceed in accordance with the procedures of Military Justice”.[19]


  1. Asia Society, [Website], 2019, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan’s address at the Asia Society, New York, September 26, 2019: https://asiasociety.org/video/pakistan-prime-minister-imran-khan-complete (accessed October 02, 2019).

  2. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1506491 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  3. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1508305/talks-possible-with-ptm-if-it-follows-pakistans-agenda-say-ministers (accessed October 1, 2019)
  4. Ibid
  5. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1508511/the-traitor-label (accessed October 2, 2019)
  6. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1168848440132022272?s=20 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  7. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5427 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  8. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1174235213511180289?s=20 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  9. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5439 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  10. Inter-Service Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5441 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  11. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1176465722865856512?s=20 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  12. Twitter.com, [Website], 2019, https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1176836797244067842?s=20 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  13. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1504926/gen-bajwa-saudi-military-adviser-discuss-regional-security (accessed October 1, 2019)
  14. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5420 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  15. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5438 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  16. Inter-Services Public Relations, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5417 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  17. Prime Minister’s Officer, [Website], 2019, https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=3030 (accessed October 1, 2019)
  18. Dawn.com, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1503045/myanmar-holding-court-martial-over-atrocities-against-rohingya (accessed October 2, 2019)
  19. Ibid