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PAKISTAN- A Reality Check On Five Years Of Army Rule.

         Paper no. 1143            12. 10. 2004


by Dr. Subhash Kapila 

Pakistan completes five years of military rule by the Pakistan Army in October 2004 under the dictates of General Pervez Musharraf. It was on 12 October 1999 that a clique of Islamic fundamentalist generals who staged an ‘in-abstentia’ coup in favour of General Musharraf. Sadly enough post-9/11 under United States pressure, General Musharraf had to do away with the very Generals who brought him into power. 

Pakistan, at a first glance of five years of Army rule (the Pakistan Army does not ‘co-opt’ the Air Force and Navy) gives a picture of a nation far more internally divided than it was under civilian rule. Vast sections of the Pakistani society view General Musharraf as an American stooge who has bartered away Pakistan’s self respect for his own continuance in power in Pakistan. This view is widely shared in the Islamic world all over, whose leadership Pakistan has always tried to claim. 

Having projected Pakistan’s state today in a very brief outline, a reality check on Pakistan’s five years of Army rule is necessary. It is necessary because in the post-9/11 stage, the United States has tried to paint a picture to the contrary on Pakistan under General Musharraf’s Army rule. 

General Musharraf’s Personal Record in the Last Five Years:

General Musharraf’s personal record in the last five years stands out in the following contours:

  • General Musharraf was constantly chafing under civilian rule and especially moves by former PM Nawaz Sharif to clip the  political wings of the Pakistan Army and its Chief.
  • General Musharraf’s coup was carried out not to save an imperiled Pakistan, but for his personal survival on being dismissed by a civilian Government, which held him personally accountable for the Kargil War military misadventure against India. Pakistan was saved from a humiliating military defeat by India on the political intervention by USA at the instance and desperate requests of Pakistan’s then civilian Prime Minister.
  • General Musharraf as his wont carried out the military misadventure against India in Kargil, without the concurrence of his Prime Minister, the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy Chiefs and his own Pakistan Army Corps Commander.
  • Post 9/11on September 12, 2001, General Musharraf once again for his own personal survival capitulated to the American ultimatum of “cooperate or else..”.  For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the United States established a formidable military presence in Pakistan and had a free run of Pakistan’s military and air bases and use of Pakistani air-space in an unrestricted manner. This enabled the US to carry out a regime change in Afghanistan and force the Al-Qaeda to run for cover from US wrath.
  • In keeping with his deceitful personality traits, General Musharraf and the Pakistani Army provided that cover to the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the run in sanctuaries and safe havens within Pakistan. Pakistan under General Musharraf has double-timed the United States post-9/11. (See this author article: Pakistan Double-Times United States Strategically: An Analysis ( SAAG paper no.1055 dated:12.07.2004)
  • General Musharraf and the Pakistan Army have been personally responsible for WMD proliferation to Libya, Iran and North Korea. To the latter, even after 9/11 and till this nefarious activity was forced into public disclosure on February 2004 more by default i.e. Libya and Iran owning up to the Pakistan connection.

The list is endless of the pattern traced out above which indicates that General Musharraf has no scruples and  that he can renege on his international commitments. 

Pakistan’s Record in the Last Five Years Under General Musharraf's Army Rule:

Pakistan’s Record in the last Five years, singularly stands out on the following developments:

  • Pakistan stands hopelessly divided in the last five years on grounds of provincial rivalries and sectarian troubles.
  • Intense resentment prevails against General Musharraf’s  diktats, and Pakistan Army rule.
  • The above has resulted in three assassination attempts personally against General Musharraf and that too from the rank and file of the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force.
  • Pakistan faces secession movements in Baluchistan, Sindh and Northern Areas.
  • Pakistan’s law and order situation is uncontrollable, as the Pakistan Army has given a free run to Islamic fundamentalist and Jehadi organisations.
  • Pakistan Army faces civil war situation in Waziristan due to its military operations against Pakistani tribal areas.
  • Pakistan today after five years of military rule shows pronounced anti-American sentiments.

It is a disturbing picture for Pakistani citizens and also to Pakistan’s neighbours i.e. India and Afghanistan whose security gets impacted by Pakistan’s domestic turbulence. 

Pakistan’s Democracy Stands Throttled and Human Rights Trampled by Army Rule.

In the last five years, democracy has been absent in Pakistan and Human Rights trampled on by the Pakistan Army on the directions of General Musharraf. A politician who dared to crticise the Pakistan Army and question General Musharraf’s rule stands sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment over-ruling US protests. 

General Mushrraf after his military coup made the following public statements on 13th Oct. 1999: 

  • “I wish to inform you that the armed forces have moved in as a last resort to prevent any further de-stabilisation”.
  • “The armed forces have no intention to stay any longer than is absolutely necessary to pave the way for true democracy to flourish in Pakistan.

Stirring words but all untrue as is the wont of General Musharraf. On 12 October 1999 the only destabilization in Pakistan that was taking place was that of the Pakistan Army and its Chief. The civilian government had dismissed General Musharraf and was clipping the political wings of the Pakistan Army. 

In terms of Musharraf’s “to pave the way for true democracy to flourish in Pakistan,” General Musharraf even in five years had not yet discovered or collected the pave-stones. 

As written by this author in an earlier paper, it is the Pakistan Army and the United States which stand in between the Pakistani peoples and their yearning for democracy. 

Pakistani Economic and Social Indicators in Five Years of Army Rule. 

Pakistan’s economic indicators stand fudged by the United States post 9\11 in order to justify the American strategic expediency   General Musharraf’s continuance as military ruler of Pakistan to serve American strategic interests in the region. What has happened is that American financial largesse has flowed into Pakistan in billions of American dollars post 9\11 enabling the balancing of cash registers.  Minus  the American largesse, Pakistan is still a failed state. 

In terms of social indicators even basic infrastructure in the fields of health and education have not made its presence felt in the last five years. Pakistani children have to seek medical treatment in India facilitated by relaxation of visas by India!

‘Madrassahs’, the infrastructure and nursery of Islamic Jehad still flourish in thousands as the Pakistan Army is yet to provide alternative education to Pakistan’s impoverished masses.

Concluding Observations 

General Musharraf and the Pakistan Army are not tired even after five years of strict military rule. Ironically it has been the history of Pakistan that Pakistani Army Chiefs have never relinquished power voluntarily. They have been pushed out of power by another Pakistani General or assassination engineered from within the ranks of Pakistan’s Armed Forces. 

Pakistan’s democracy can only be restored when the United States wills it so. It is ironic that while the United States espouses democracy in Pakistan’s neighborhood in Afghanistan and Myanmar, successive US Administrations have shied away from demanding democracy  in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army has traditionally exploited this weakness of the United States for its continuance  in power i.e. by engineering their indispensability to US strategic interests.

( The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. Email drsubhashkapila