Nawazs removal once again demonstrated that the military would not tolerate any compromise with what it saw as its legitimate domain of supervening interests.
In October 1998 the then Army Chief, General Jehangir Karamat, with the agreement of the senior commanders mooted a suggestion for the creation of a National Security Council, backed by competent advisers and a think tank of experts for evolving credible policies to tackle the ongoing national problems in the political, economic and security zones. Such an arrangement would give the military a direct and legitimate voice in the decision making at the highest level and would do away with the fiction that the military in Pakistan was subordinate to the civilian government.
Nawaz Sharif, in his second term as Prime Minister, with nearly 65 per cent seats in the National Assembly, had become the most powerful Prime Minister that Pakistan ever had. He had already had a President (Faroukh Leghari), a Chief Justice of Pakistan (Sajjad Ali Shah) and a Chief of Staff (Navy) quit their offices for one reason or other. Karamat chose to resign rather than create a standoff when Nawaz Sharif disapproved of his statement. General Parvez Musharraf was appointed the new Chief. With his successes, like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto earlier, Nawaz turned to a personalised style of governance, packing loyalists into key positions. This style took little notice of the ground situation that military sensitiveness had to be factored into important decisions or its independence in in-house matters such as postings, promotions and transfers had to be respected.
Nawaz got disillusioned with Musharraf also when he resisted the former’s efforts to dominate the military apparatus. He tried to dismiss him in October 1999 but this time he had overestimated his strength. There was an immediate institutional response from the military. On October 12, 1999, he himself got sacked through an army coup, the fourth in Pakistani history. Nawaz’s removal once again demonstrated that the military would not tolerate any compromise with what it saw as its legitimate domain of supervening interests.
The Supreme Court has given Musharraf three years to restore full constitutional rule and return Pakistan to democracy. This time, a new form of democracy is likely to return”¦
Today the corporate and institutional interests of the military have reached such a peak that any attack on them from any direction invites an immediate counter-attack by their top leadership. In a real sense, the military in Pakistan has become ungovernable by the civilians. Three Constitutions, of 1956, 1962, and 1973, have tried different formulae and political engineering to give democracy to Pakistan, subordinating the military to civilian institutions and authority but each of these got subverted. Under the doctrine of necessity, the military has demonstrated that it accepts no fetters on its supremacy, no limits to its course of action and no questioning of its judgment.
The civilians, therefore, play second fiddle to the Armed Forces. The military, thus, considers no one within the country as worthy of its respect. If at all, it will pay heed only to external operators that control agencies, like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as Pakistan’s economic well being has become highly dependent on the doles it receives from them; or suppliers of arms, nuclear material, etc. This ascendancy now gives the military an overriding veto in determining national security policies and the military prevail even if the civilian leadership has reservations.
Islamisation of the Military
The military personnel inherited by Pakistan on independence were not ideologically motivated except that the Mohajirs among them chose to serve in Pakistan like other Mohajirs chose to make the new state their home.
The officers in this class constituted 12 per cent of the whole. Like the other Mohajir class of 1947, they harboured a certain animus against the Hindus. The post independence recruited officer class could not escape being affected by the pulls and pressures operating in the contemporary scenario.
Two events, Pakistans defeat in the Bangladesh War of 1971 and Zias rule between 1977 and 1988, gave a tremendous push to the fundamentalist orientation
According to Dr Akmal Hussain “during the mid 1960s and 1970s the social origin of the officer corps shifted towards the petite bourgeoisie in the urban areas and in the countryside. This shift in the class Qrigins of the officer corps was accompanied by increasing ideological factionalism in terms of a fundamentalist religious ethos on the one hand and a liberal left wing ethos on the other”. Two events, Pakistan’s defeat in the Bangladesh War of 1971 and Zia’s rule between 1977 and 1988, gave a tremendous push to the fundamentalist orientation.
The demoralisation caused by the defeat made the soldier look inwards to fathom its causes and generally find solace in the explanations of the obscurantist. Orthodox groups like the Jamait-e-Islami and the Tabligh Jamaat were thus able to spread their influence in the Armed Forces. When Zia appeared on the scene, his search for legitimacy drew him towards Islamisation and an organic alignment with political forces with Islam high on their agenda, Zia allowed Islamic propaganda among the military personnel by such groups and was even said to have permitted secret JI cells to be established in the Armed Forces. His decision to send young officers to the universities to study, where also the JI had been given a free hand, accentuated their Islamic orientation.