Thursday, Dec 08, 2022
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Army

The Emperor's New-Look Clothes

Tailoring the political system is the military's need: to preserve its entrenched interests

The Emperor's New-Look Clothes
AP
The Emperor's New-Look Clothes
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The fourth military takeover in October 1999, and the ability of the Musharraf government to manage the country's affairs without encountering any serious challenges, reconfirms the military's strategic position in Pakistan's political system. It can be described as the most formidable and autonomous political actor in Pakistan, capable of influencing the nature and direction of political changes. Its clout has manifested in the form of direct military rule (October 1958-June 1962, March 1969-December 1971, July 1977-December 1985, and October 1999-) and influence over key foreign policy and domestic issues when out of power.

Several considerations and interests shape the military's disposition towards the political process. National security is its first major interest and it consequently exercises influence in key foreign policy areas, especially the nuclear policy, relations with India, including Kashmir, and Afghanistan. The military isn't opposed to India-Pakistan rapprochement but a civilian government is expected to keep the military on board in any normalisation process with India. The military, like most civilian policymakers, will not like to improve relations with India unless it addresses the Kashmir issue. Overseas arms and equipment procurement is the second military interest, which too has foreign policy implications. Its third interest pertains to preserving its autonomy, countering any civilian interference in its internal organisational and service affairs, including promotions and transfers. Then there is the issue of expenditure, opposed as the military is to unilateral cuts in defence expenditure by civilian leaders. Another consideration relates to improvement of service conditions and continuation of perks and privileges the military personnel have acquired during the long years of military rule. It also wants to protect the industrial and business interests it has developed through its four welfare foundations. Finally, the military expects the civilian leaders to maintain some degree of political and economic stability, a pre-requisite to sustain its professional and corporate interests.

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