Pakistan: Islam, Militarism, and the Coming Elections
Those who wish to read the Pakistan elections article in full may visit the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website.
Here are some excerpts from Frederic Grare’s article on “Islam, Militarism, and the 2007â€“2008 Elections in Pakistan”:
“The year 2007 will be crucial for the future of democracy in Pakistan. If the election schedule announced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afghan Niazi is followed, presidential elections will be held in the fall and the general and provincial elections will be held on January 30, 2008.
“Many commentators in the West believe that the Pakistani regimewill portray the elections as a contest between Islamists represented by the MMA and the enlightened moderation of President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan Army.
“In a new Carnegie Paper, Islam, Militarism, and the 2007â€“2008 Elections in Pakistan, Frederic Grare argues that the reality is that the Islamic forces will not be a defining factor. They are a dependent variable whose power is largely determined by the army.
“The only real questions are whether the armyâ€™s tactics for manipulating the 2007â€“2008 elections will differ from those used in 2002 and what role the Islamic parties will play in the process.”
(For Frederic Grare’s earlier article on “Pakistan: The Myth of an Islamist Peril” please click here.)…And for my earlier post on “Pakistan Elections 2007: President Musharraf is Jittery” please click here.)
In a parallel argument, retired Pakistani Lieutenant General Asan Durrani elaborates on the consequences of military manipulation of the political process in his article “It is Not a Tiger” in The Nation newspaper of Pakistan.
Here are some excerpts from Pakistani General Durrani’s article:
“Militaries have exercised political power in all times and in most places. There are good reasons all the same that over time it has become an aberration.
“Civil and military are two different cultures. One aims at the evolution of the society and the other is trained to use organised violence. The civil society for its growth must allow pluralism and is therefore accommodative.
“The military, on the other hand, while encouraging innovation and initiative, acts in a well-defined framework to achieve specific goals. When it assumes political power, usually in messy conditions, the military can restore order in the short term. Its regimented approach, nonetheless, does more harm than good to the polity.
“The civil society and its institutions are obviously affected. They either cease to function effectively or become monolithic. In either case they abdicate all responsibility to deliver to their uniformed rulers.
“When it takes over, the military suspends the political process. In due course, for legitimacy and to reach out to the people, it needs some politicians on board. Those who sign up, lose credibility and respect. (No wonder that all our military regimes were succeeded by their detractors.)
“To keep them in good humour and in power, elections have to be rigged. Smaller and backward political units are the worst affected. In a democratic order, they have a semblance of representation. In its absence, they depend upon the rulerâ€™s goodwill for a token presence.
“For routine administration, the military, unschooled in civil affairs, depends on the civil bureaucrats. Not used to the militaryâ€™s pushy methods and exploiting its ignorance, they find ingenious ways to discredit the regime.
“The ire of the masses, normally reserved for the officialdom, is now directed against the military. The military, too, is not spared the fallout. It is distracted from the main mission and its ability to perform suffers. The military culture gets corrupted and the quality of leadership is starkly affected.
“Loyalty to the coup and its maker now counts more than the professional competence. Pakistani society, subjected to repeated army rules, is an apt illustration of all the assorted implications.”
There is an interesting article why military generals cling on to power after the coup at the BBC…”Coup leaders’ addiction to power”.
The elections scene seems to be hotting up in Pakistan,according to The Gulf Times.
Here are some excerpts from The Gulf Times:
“A new opposition alliance could emerge with coordination among the Pakistani opposition parties if Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) strikes a deal with the government, sources have said. (Benazir Bhutto is a former Pakistani Prime Minister)
“The sources said that top leaders of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) had contacted each other and discussed ways to form a new political grouping before the forthcoming general elections.
“The sources said the new alliance would also contact the like-minded parties to give it full strength. The final touches to the proposed alliance would be given after a meeting between PML-N patron-in-chief Nawaz Sharif and Bhutto on October 19 in London.” (Nawaz Sharif is a former Pakistani Prime Minister who was ousted in a coup by President General Pervez Musharraf)