Military & Aerospace

Can the Pakistan Army be tamed?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 15 Nov , 2022

Pakistan is once again in turmoil, the present one bring due to strong insistence on immediate general election by Imran Khan , the former Prime Minister (PM), who was ousted from the county’s premiership in April 2022, in an allegedly rigged no confidence motion at the behest of the army, as he had become too big for his boots. All ‘INSTITUTIONS’ in a country must be evenly balanced, be in a state of harmony with one another and mutually supporting. But in Pakistan all civilian institutions, have become dysfunctional and discredited, primarily due to corruption, gross ineptitude, amongst many other factors.

The army has filled the vacuum, thus becoming all powerful. Even the judiciary has adopted a “Doctrine of Necessity” to validate all military coups. The army has ruled Pakistan for most part of her existence, half of the period directly. They can, remove, replace, jail, exile PMs and even assassinate them , either directly or judicially, as in case of Mr ZA Bhutto. They can impose Martial Law at will, without a whimper from any of the civilian institutions. To criticize or talk ill of army is a cognizable offence. It has even assumed the role of ‘Defender of the Ideology of Pakistan’.

The army’s Fauji Foundation is among the largest business conglomerate in Pakistan with its turnover in billions of US dollars. It runs factories, restaurants, banks, hospitals, fertilizers, factories, warehouses, etc. Its Logistics Cell alone has huge fleets of transport vehicles. Huge earnings from the Fauji Foundation have made the army even more invincible. No prime minister of Pakistan has ever completed his/her full tenure. Also No one can become PM without being Army’s protégé. When a PM starts thinking that he is really a PM, he becomes eligible for immediate replacement. However, Imran Khan has not taken his removal lying down and has been agitating ever since, for fresh elections for formulation of so called genuine government. He claims that his is the biggest party of Pakistan. To press home his demand for immediate elections he started a Long March which would culminate in Islamabad.

On 03 November, while on long march, an assassination attempt was made on him, in which he suffered bullet injuries on his legs while about a dozen of his supporters were wounded and one man killed. Imran Khan alleges that it was an outcome of a conspiracy hatched in September this year and strongly wanted that the names of PM Shehbaz Sharif, Interior (home) minister, Rana Sanaullah Khan and a serving ISI Major General Faisal Naseer, be included in the First Information Report (FIR). He contends that, as a victim, it is his legal right to have the aforementioned persons included in the FIR, whose names can be removed, after investigation if not found involved, at the behest of the court. As per the media reports , there was no problem of including the PM and his Interior Minister  in the FIR but the ‘powers that be’ (Army) did not want Major General Naseer’s name to be included.

The CM Punjab and Inspector General of Police reportedly expressed their helplessness in that regards. Thus, no FIR was lodged for about a week and ultimately a watered down FIR, at the behest of local police, not acceptable Imran Khan, was lodged. If a former PM cannot enforce his legal right (of inclusion of suspects’ names in the FIR), what is the hope for lesser mortals? No Pakistani politician can tame their army. So what is the way out?

There is an historic linkage between the situation in Pakistan now and the one prevailing in the same region after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The maharaja had created a very strong and modern army due to which his empire expanded enormously. After his demise, due to inaptitude of his successors and infighting within the contending groups, the political institutions collapsed rather quickly and utter lawlessness prevailed in the realm.

The political institutions were totally overwhelmed by the army. It started removing, killing and appointing the PMs and other political entities at will and assumed the role of being the ‘Custodian of the Khalsa Raj, akin to one assumed by the Pakistani army. Neither regent to infant Maharaja Dalip (Maharani Jindan, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s widow), nor her utterly useless ministers had any means to control the Army. She then decided to destroy her Army by throwing it on the British bayonets and thus hoped to control the defeated remnants. The fate   of the Sikh Army was pre decided as its traitor politicians and generals were in collusion  with the British. The utmost bravery of the common soldiers of the Lahore Army was of no avail against the treachery of their own generals, bent upon destroying them.

To tame their army, the present Pakistani politicians, like their erstwhile Sikh counterparts, may adopt a similar method and launch their army in a misadventure against India to weaken and discredit it. India needs to be very careful of such a contingency and prepare for the same. Remember, despite the betrayal and treachery of its highest political and military leadership, the Lahore army nearly won the battle of Mudki in the first Anglo-Sikh war, forcing the Governor General, Lord Harding, to contemplate surrendering to it. No one can predict the outcome of a war, whether  limited or unlimited.  Let’s learn from history and be prepared for all eventualities.       

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