Spearhead Analysis: Six vs. One

Spearhead Analysis – 04.10.12

The Army Chief General Kayani has given a one point comment on the ongoing debate on Baluchistan sparked by the six points given by the Baluchistan National Party Chief Mr Akhter Mengal. His one sentence comment-‘the Army fully supports any political process as long as it is within the Constitution’-carries a world of meaning for those willing to accept it with an open mind.

The General or his spokesperson could have denied the allegations of a ‘military operation’ in Baluchistan, or the mention of ‘death squads or any or all of the other four other points raised by Mr Mengal during his appearance in the Supreme Court. Such a denial would not have carried much weight with those who forget that there are elected federal and provincial governments and insist that it is the Army that is ‘calling the shots’. By mentioning the Constitution the Army Chief has drawn attention to what is Constitutional and what is not. The six points need to be examined in this context especially by those political leaders who have rushed to endorse them just to discomfit the government.

There is no doubt that the Army has stakes in the national security situation and the policies that manage that situation. This is true of all armies in the world. No army would want to be asked to deal with the violent fallout of a political situation that has spiraled out of control because of mismanagement at the stage at which it could have been managed or controlled. In the same context the Army once employed would not want to be pulled out of a task given to it and then asked to get back in after political failure because there is inevitably a heavy cost in human lives for such experiments. Considered against this backdrop the Army Chief’s statement could also be related to the situation in FATA where the Army is paying a heavy price in lives.

The General’s reference to ‘support for any political process’ implies that it is subservient to the elected government, that the political process is not its job but that it ready to support the process of policy formulation with its input as long as the process is within the four corners of the Constitution. By implication the military is rejecting the ‘calling the shots’ mantra and indicating that it can put its organizational and structural weight behind the political governments’ efforts to resolve an issue that has manifest security implications. It is also sending a loud and clear message of its respect for the Constitution.

The General’s statement is also rejecting unconstitutional practices like an unauthorized military operation, a hand in the saga of missing persons or the so called death squads if there are any. He has indicated that there is a deeper malaise that begs a political solution before it is too late. Without a doubt institutional maturity is creeping into Pakistan and this is good for the future of democracy.

(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to a single individual)


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