By Dr. Subhash Kapila
Pakistan is on the edge of an abyss and that eight years of Pakistan Army rule under its Chief of Army Staff, General Musharraf as the root cause, was reflected in this authors last paper of May31, 2007.
Pakistan today is getting unstuck, because the Pakistan Army is no longer the glue that holds Pakistan together. The Pakistan Army, through the“Corp Commanders Mafia” shackles Pakistan today and is intent on persisting the shackles in the face of widespread agitation to the contrary.
The outcome of the Pakistan Army’s 101st Corps Commanders Conference on June 1,2007 not only reinforces the above assertion but alarmingly spells out that Pakistan Army’s “Generals Mafia” is intent on pushing the nation to civil war.
An ISPR press release issued after the Conference gave dire warnings on the wave of disaffection that has swept Pakistan since March 9,2007 and more markedly from May12, 2007 (the Karachi carnage on Musharraf’s directions by proxy use of his compatriot Mohajjir political grouping).
The ISPR release, in brief, asserted the following: (1) Corps Commanders endorsed General Musharraf’s holding dual appointments of COAS and “president” (2) “The Pakistan Army is committed to lend full support towards realization of the vision of the “president” for a dynamic progressive and moderate Islamic state” (3) “The Corps Commanders and the Principal Staff Officers stand committed to the security of the country under the leadership of the “president” and COAS” (4) Corps Commanders took serious note of malicious campaign against institutions of state, and lastly (5) A small minority would not be allowed to obstruct the majority.
Curiously, it docs not seem to be a typographical error, that the ISPR spells out “COAS” in capitals and the “President” begins with a small “p”. It seem that in relative tems the preservation and position of General Musharraf as COAS over-rides his usurped position as “President.”
Never before in the history of Pakistan Army military dictatorships in the past, was such a step taken and the reactions in Pakistan have been strong and vocal.
Such an ominous step indicates the sheer desperation of General Musharraf to continue in power and the desperation of the “Corps Commanders Mafia” to protect their vested turf against the onslaughts of an aroused Pakistani nation demanding democracy and rule of law. The crucial issue which the people of Pakistan are grappling today through their unabated massive demonstrations is whether the rule of Constitution and law would prevail over the rule of the guns of the Pakistan Army.
The “Corps Commanders Mafia” seems intent on the latter and in the ensuing clash of wills they seem to have sown the seeds of a civil war. The Pakistan Army has not yet learnt the lessons of 1971.
Such an alarming prospect needs consideration of the following perspectives:
Pakistani People’s Demonstrations Continue Unabated Along With Suppression of Media.
Political Reactions-Strong Against Corps Commanders’ Assertions.
Pakistan Army’s Image Further Discredited.
Prospects of a Civil War in Pakistan?
Pakistani People’s Demonstrations Continue Unabated & Suppression of Media
Western and many prominent Indian analysts had maintained so far that the military regime would ride out the political storm and Musharraf would continue in power. This author all along in his papers since March 2007 has argued to the contrary.
Despite the “state suppression” of these political demonstrations by General Musharraf, targeted killings and media suppression, the people’s widespread participation in the lawyers-led movement has intensified.
Following the Corps Commanders Conference, Pakistan again witnessed the following day a massive display of people’s power when thousands joined and welcomed the Chief Justice’s motorcade from Islamabad to Abbottabad. A journey of two and a half hours took fourteen hours to complete due to massive crowd participation and despite the ban in Islamabad.
In a bid to prevent live coverage of these demonstrations, the military regime has shut down TV stations, blocked live TV-casts and brought in an Ordinance to give it enhanced powers for media suppression.
So afraid has the Pakistan Army become, alarmed at the exposure of its wrong-doings, that the release of a book “Military Inc” by Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, a noted Pak analyst was not allowed in an Islamabad hotel. The book deals with the Pakistan Army business enterprises and vested interests.
As mentioned earlier these continuing political protest demonstrations in Pakistan now stand reduced to a bitter struggle between the Pakistan Army intent to hold on to power and the Pakistan people intent on establishing the supremacy of the Constitution and the legal processes.
Political Reactions Strong Against Corps Commanders’ Assertions
The political reactions have come swift and strong against the assertions made in their conference by the “Corps Commanders Mafia” Mafia, they have to be called because a dozen or so Pakistan Army Generals are holding to political ransom a nation of 160 Million proud and virile Pakistanis through the terror of the gun.
Rather than individual quotes of strong political reactions on the Corps Commanders assertions, a brief summary of these is given below:
Demand that nation has right to know as to which Corp Commanders supported General Musharraf's position.
General Musharraf accused of presenting the Pakistan Army as a political party with a political manifesto.
Corps Commanders using Pakistan Army to threaten the legal community, the media and the people.
The MQM card having failed, General Musharraf has used the Corps Commanders as his last card.
Fundamental violation of Constitution and the oath of Allegiance (Article 244) which prohibits engaging in political pronouncements.
Analytically, it would be fair to state that the “Corps Commanders Mafia” were not fearful of Musharraf’s downfall, but the downfall of “ Pakistan Army Inc” from political power in Pakistan. Hence, the dire warnings on the protest demonstration and a veiled warning of strict military action and use of force by Pakistan Army.
Pakistan Army’s Image Further Discredited
Pakistan Army today is a discredited Army with a discredited General Musharraf as COAS. This happened so after its military reverses in Kargil against India and against the tribals in North and South Waziristan. In both cases General Musharraf was the master-mind.
Its image stands shattered by its inactivity against the Lal Masjid stand-off in the heart of Islamabad, Women demonstrations in Pakistan in open protest against the Lal Masjidn developments displayed more courage than the Pakistan Army in confronting them.
These latest assertions by the “ Corps Commanders Mafia” giving their own political manifesto and agenda for Pakistan will further discredit the image of the Pakistan Army and brand it as a political entity rather than an instrument of state.
It is reported that for the first time in history of Punjab, anti-Pakistan Army slogans were in evidence in unison with anti-Musharraf slogans. This aspect stands repeated in this authors earlier papers also.
With widespread political protests likely to continue, the Pakistan Army would increasingly be called to quell them. There is a danger that in Punjab, the Pakistan Army may not follow orders to fire on its own people. Precedents exist in Waziristan operations where officers and men just walked out of any military confrontation with the people.
Surely, the “Corps Commanders Mafia would not expect that the US Army would intervene on their behalf on “humanitarian grounds” against the Pakistani people.
Prospects of a Civil War in Pakistan
Pakistan has already been facing the prospects of dismemberment with armed insurrections in Baluchistan, Frontier Province and Northern Areas.
The Pakistan Army has been used to quell, unsuccessfully though, its own citizens in the frontier areas to meet American demands.
General Musharraf has revived the ethnic fires in Karachi by using the Mohajiirs in a carnage against the Pakhtuns, Baluchis, and Punjabis.
In Punjab, anti-Pakistan Army sentiments have emerged for the first time. It has never happened before.
When one now talks of the prospects of a civil war in Pakistan, it is not visualized in the framework of provinces fighting each other or any other ethnic or religion conflict.
What is envisaged is worse. It’s a civil war between an entrenched Pakistan Army in political power veisus the vast spectrum of Pakistan’s civil population. Surely, the Pakistan Army cannot for long militarily confront a civil Pakistani population of 159 people.
Long years of unquestioned military regimes have induced a false sense of infallibity in the Pakistan military hierarchy. The latest Corps Commanders Conference on June 1, 2007 is an indicator of this continuing malaise. This “Corps Commanders Mafia” feel that like in the past, they would be able to cow down the civilian masses demonstrations by military threats.
Times have changed. People are no longer in awe of the Pakistan Army. For the first time there is a single agenda in the whole of Pakistan, namely, the Pakistan Army needs to be tamed and military rule must go.
The “ Corps Commanders Mafia” is in a state of denial and not woken up to the emerging reality. Probably, they feel that the United States has a congruence with the political manifesto they have adopted.
Would this lead to a civil war? Most likely.
The widespread political demonstrations within Pakistan are not he handiwork of a small lawyers community or disgruntled opposition political leaders. On the contrary it is the manifestation of simmering widespread political disaffection which ordinary people have joined in large numbers against the Pakistan Army military regime.
The stakes are high for both of these parties. For the vast majority of the Pakistani people, they seem to have arrived at the threshold of redeeming the rule of the Constitution and legal processes within a democratic framework. For the Pakistan Army, the stakes are higher. They stand on the verge of losing political power, a return to the barracks and a loss of privileged positions.
The “Corps Commanders Mafia” does not seem to be reading the writing on the wall, and therein emerges the prospects of a civil war in Pakistan
(The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org)