The Pakistan Army’s War on Democracy, Constitution, Judiciary, and the State
Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal
The Army: Pakistan’s largest terrorist outfit
Since the very early days of Pakistan’s creation, the Army showed its deep distaste and enmity against democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the constitution. The country was created solely and wholly by the politicians, intellectuals and Islam loving common people of the Indian subcontinent with a specific ideological, political and civilisational aim. They wanted to build and run the country as per Qur’anic roadmap. “Pakistan ka matlab kia: La ilaha illallah” was the war cry of the Muslim League. The Army had no role in the creation of Pakistan. However, since the Army has tanks, guns, and cannons, it could easily terrorise the unarmed citizens and hijack the whole country. Hence, of 75 years of Pakistan, 33 years are ruled by the Army.
Terrorism is defined as the abuse of power for political and economic purposes. Since the Pakistan Army has a huge arsenal and manpower to terrorise people, qualifies to be the largest terrorist outfit in the country. No other terrorist gang can match it. The people are so much terrorised, that they can’t dare use the word “army” in usual political discourses in front of the media. They call it “powerful establishment”. It is a pity that those who created the country were denied the rights to decide the fate of the country. Their political rights were snatched from them. The Army considers itself the only sovereign entity in the country. It always tries to keep its own monopoly of power. The Pakistan Army is indeed a state within the state. The Army repeatedly showed its deep incompatibility with the constitution, rule of law and people’s democratic rights. It defies any civilian authority -even with popular mandate.
The Army’s opportunism and betrayal
Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world that possess huge geopolitical importance. It works as the gateway to major players of world politics like China, Russia, India, Iran, and central Asia. So, it enjoyed a great importance in the eyes of the US policy makers from the early days of its creation. Such geopolitical importance attracted huge foreign money to Pakistan -especially to its Army. But the money never comes alone. It brings enemies’ other agenda with it.
The process of degradation of the Pakistan Army started when billions of US dollars came to this country during its CENTO and SEATO years. The US needed Pakistan as a partner in its cold war against Soviet Russia. The US money was spent to build modern cantonments, spacious residential quarters, and pompous lifestyles for the Army officers. In the name of training, the Army officers were taken to the USA. In fact, it was mainly for de-Islamisation and ideological cum cultural conversion of the cadets. The money worked as a bribe to buy their political and ideological allegiance.
Such allegiance was evident when the Army became the US partner in its war on Islam and gave military bases to the USA to kill Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since then, the Army has become more elitist, secularist, racist, and sexist. The stories on the scandalous sex lives of the topmost Army generals like Ayyub Khan and Yahya Khan are well known. Their scandals were published in the domestic and the foreign media. The Bengali and Sindhi compatriots were at the receiving end of its ugly racism cum Punjabi tribalism. Only with an extreme racist instinct, thousands of innocent unarmed Bengali civilians were killed in 1971. The Bengali racists also committed huge genocidal killing of the non-Bengalis -the Biharis. These were very shocking fratricidal tragedies in Muslim history. Pakistan was not created for that. Such bloodshed owes to tremendous political, intellectual, and educational failures.
The seeds for destruction
This Pakistan Army worked as the glaring showcase of disparity between the country’s eastern and western wings. Such a disparity was the root cause of mutual hatred and break-up of Pakistan. Injustices kill unity and brotherhood. Even siblings of the same parents can’t peacefully coexist if injustices dominate. Disparity and inequality in government’s development initiatives indeed worked as the seed for destruction of Pakistan.
The government’s spending always creates income opportunities for its citizens. The US money was spent mostly to build mega cantonments, staff colleges, and Head Quarters for defence forces only in West Pakistan and utterly neglected the defence of East Pakistan. Such sheer neglect was exposed in March 1971 when India’s aggressive war was looming on the doorstep. The Army had only one division force (about 11 thousand soldiers) to meet the challenge of India. Later, it was increased to about 45 thousand to face about 250,000 Indian troops. The Army’s more than 90 percent forces were in West Pakistan. This way the Army planned not for any effective defence of East Pakistan, but for a quick surrender. Thus, the Pakistan Army made the ugliest surrender to idolaters on 16 December 1971. Lieutenant General A.A.K. Niazi -the commander of Army’ Eastern Command deplored such neglect in his book as the betrayal of East Pakistan.
In later years, as a partner of the US crusade on Islam, the Pakistan Army received billions of US dollars. But this money was spent only to increase the fortune of the Army. As a result, the Army generals retire as billionaires. Such foreign money was protected from tickling down to the poor citizens. So, the people in rural areas in all provinces of Pakistan live in abject poverty. As a result, the country stands socio-economically deeply divided. And such division works as the hot bed for political unrest and division. Thousands of people show their utter desperation to escape such a dismal economic situation. Hundreds of them even take the risk of being drowned in the Mediterranean sea.
The coalition of civilian and military mafia
Because of economic and political implosion, Pakistan has become an international beggar. Whereas in its early years, Pakistan’s per capita GDP was higher than India and South Korea. Now India’s economy is booming, and Pakistan’s economy is going downhill. The ongoing economic downfall of Pakistan entirely owes to the thievery of the ruling political and military mafias. The civil mafias are led by the former President Zardari of People’s Party and the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Muslim League (N). It worths mentioning that both Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif are the convicted thieves. They were put in jails by the judiciary for proven thievery.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Army shows its prominence more as a business enterprise and less as an Army institution. It now owns more business companies and property development projects than any business tycoon of Pakistan. Because of its misplaced focus, it couldn’t show any professional merit in any war against India.
The Army is now more interested in keeping its total capture on Pakistan’s politics. It thinks it essential to protect its business interest from any patriotic democratic forces. The generals feel that a powerful democratic leader may interfere in their protected domain and reduce their power and the budgetary allocation. Hence, phobia against democracy runs deeper in the Army. Now Imran Khan is considered a threat to the Army’s vested interests. The Army can’t fight him alone; hence has forged unholy alliance with the ideological cousins in corruption like Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif. This way the Army shows its full compatibility with the proven thieves and distaste against democrats and patriots.
Recently, the Army has changed its strategy. For 33 years, the Army generals ruled the country from the front seat. Now they rule from the back seat. The installation of a 12 party coalition government is indeed a part of the plan. The Army has puppets as the political façade, but the generals work as the puppet musters. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan is their common enemy. Imran Khan already earned the Army’s wrath by exercising his executive power in making some changes in appointments. While in power, he removed the current head of the Army General Asif Muneer from the top position of ISI (the country’s spy agency). As a result, the current Head of the Army is impregnated with personal vendetta against him.
The war on Imran Khan
Now, the Army’s war on Imran Khan enters into its decisive phase. The Army understands that Imran Khan can’t be defeated in any election. He is too popular to be defeated. The current opinion polls suggest that he enjoys more than 70 percent support among the voters. As the repression on him continues, he gets more public sympathy. He has immensely impressed people with his courage, honesty, and integrity. The Army realises that; hence continues to postpone the election. The strategy to disqualify him from politics by the civil judiciary also failed. More than 170 false cases couldn’t make sufficient grounds for his arrest. Two previous murderous attempts on his life also failed. So, the Army’s powerful generals now have a new strategy. It is to hang him by a military court.
The Army’s hidden plan came to the surface on 9 May 2023. To arrest unarmed Imran Khan, a huge number of armed commandos were sent to Islamabad High Court premise. The court premise was invaded by breaking its doors and windows. The Army put petrol on the fire. Instead of a smooth arrest, Imran Khan was physically manhandled and beaten on his head. Thus, he was humiliated in public under the camera. The scene was shown on all TV channels. It is worth noting that TV channels in Pakistan are not allowed to show Imran Khan’s picture on the screen. But on 9 June, there was no such bar on showing the rogue armed personnels humiliating Mr. Khan. So, it was done with a purpose. It was orchestrated with a clear plan to boil up the blood of his supporters to generate huge hatred against the Army. The plan worked. What was expected by the planners happened.
There was another plan hatched around the Army’s Core Commander’s house in Lahore. To amplify the event, the most protected Core Commander’s house was kept unprotected. No attempt was made to extinguish the flame that engulfed the house. Not a single fire brigade vehicle was seen in the area. As if, those who had the capacity to stop the fire were awaiting only for its destruction. Now the Army establishment is abusing the incident to implicate Khan as the instigator of the arson. The recent press briefing by the Army’s media spokesperson didn’t keep any doubt on such intention. It is worth noting that Mr. Khan was in the police custody while all these happened.
The Supreme Court: A helpless hostage
The Army establishment has made the Supreme Court non-functional. Since this highest court possesses no armed men with guns and bullets, it fails to protect its own sanctity. The court fails to discharge its duty as the protector of the constitution. In all civilised countries, the police and the security apparatus are duty-bound to help the court to execute its judicial order. But in Pakistan, the police and Army show total non-cooperation. The judiciary is left with no option but to swallow the contempt of its sanctity. The country has been made a lawless jungle. Only the powerful Army could instigate such betrayal against the judiciary. The ruling coalition leaders were instigated to hold rallies in front of the Supreme Court building to show their rancorous contempt against the judges. The Army thus shows, it has no redline. It can do whatever it likes. As if, not the Supreme Court but the Army has the monopoly to give verdict on the wrongs and the lawful.
The country’s constitution says that after dissolution of an assembly, the election must be held in 90 days. A caretaker government can only work to hold the election. The Supreme Court gave a verdict to hold an election on 14 May 2023. But such Supreme Court ruling remained only in papers. The government defied the court order. Now, two provinces of Pakistan like Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa -the two-third of Pakistan are being ruled by illegal governments. Since the government ministers are the coalition partners of the Army, they can freely indulge in contempt of the court without any fear.
In Pakistan, only those who have gone are obeyed and respected. The defenceless common people enjoy no security of life, dignity, and basic rights. More than 10 thousand supporters of Imran Khan are arrested. Scores of women are kept behind the bar. About 25 unarmed people were killed. No enquiry was done to find out the killers. The government faces no accountability. And the killers enjoy full impunity. This looks normal in Pakistan.
Today, the occupied Pakistan looks little different from the occupied Kashmir. Under the current Army occupation, people’ s mandate, law and constitution, and the democratic norms enjoy little sanctity. Like occupied Kashmir, the Pakistan’s media also faces total blackout for news on Imran Khan and his party. All TV channels work as propaganda machines for one sided Army narratives. However, this is not new in Pakistan. Whenever the Army gets total control, the same things happen again and again. General Zia-ul Haque showed his robust distaste against people’s democratic rights and the constitution. He called the constitution a collection of some papers. General Ayyub Khan didn’t have a different view either. He literally threw out the country’s 1956 constitution to a garbage bin. And he made his own constitution to fit into his agenda.
Whereas the 1956 constitution was the outcome of 9 years of tremendous reconciliation between the politicians of both East and West Pakistan. It was a consensus constitution acceptable by the people of both the wings. By destroying the constitution, Ayyub Khan sowed the seed of destruction of Pakistan. His job could please only the worst enemies. Pakistan was dismembered because of a constitutional crisis. The crisis in 1971 could be politically resolved if there was any constitutional roadmap. The military and its martial law were not the solution; these were the problem.
Thus, the Pakistan Army is primarily responsible for the destruction of the largest Muslim country on the planet. If there was no Army coup in 1958, Pakistan could have survived even today as the third largest country on the world map with more than 400 million population. Pakistan could have possessed the potential not only to lead the Muslim ummah but also influence global politics. In fact, such a vision worked in the mind of Indian Muslims to create Pakistan. But those who worked as mercenaries in the British Army didn’t have any chance to share that vision. So, the Pakistan Army committed the greatest crime not only against democracy and human rights but also against Islam and the ummah. It is a pity that the Pakistani intellectuals and media people blame India for all failures in 1971 and eulogise their own worst internal enemies. The Army still pursues the same criminal truck. So, its war on democracy, human rights, and ummah continues.
The Army’s incompatibility with the vision of Pakistan
The Army has repeatedly shown its inherent incompatibility with the vision of Pakistan. On 14 August 1947, the soldiers and officers who constituted Pakistan Army were entirely recruited by the British to work as mercenaries to serve their colonial interests. Hence, none of them took part in the creation of Pakistan. In the colonial era, their role was very ugly, unpatriotic, and un-Islamic. In 1917, more than 200,000 Muslim Army men -mostly from the province of Punjab joined the British-led crusade against the khalifa to capture Iraq and Palestine for the British empire. Israel is built on that captured land. It was a haram act. Anyone with an iota of iman can’t take part in such a criminal war on Islam to dismember khilafa. But the icons of Pakistan Army were the parts of that. So, the Army started with a horrendous criminal legacy against Islam and Muslim.
Even after the creation of Pakistan, the Army continued to commit similar betrayals. Military coup against elected governments, annulment of democratic rights and elimination of constitution were not its only crimes, they joined the US-led war on Islam. They collaborated with the US Army to kill more than 70 thousand Pakistani citizens and destroyed thousands of their homes. Crimes of such criminals must not be forgotten; rather should be taught in all schools and colleges. Otherwise, they will continue to resurface in politics to commit similar crimes.
The Army leaders proved their incompatibility with the vision, mission, and objective of Pakistan from the day one of its creation. Women and wine were incorporated in its secular culture. What a shameless disgrace! In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Muslim taxpayers’ money was used to pay the bills for wine in the Army officers’ clubs, parties, and dining rooms. It was stopped only in the late seventies by General Zia-ul Haque.
In Pakistan, the army is the most powerful secular institution. It fights its own war for the defence of its own sovereignty and political monopoly. The army doesn’t allow any civilian leader to interfere in its own matter. They consider cantonment a no-go area for a civilian. They think whoever tries to interfere in the Army’s internal matters must go from the power. They don’t allow even an elected Prime Minister of the country to make an appointment in the Army as per his or her choice. Even after being hit by bullets, Imran Khan was not allowed to make a complaint against the alleged murderer in a police station. The police officer didn’t register the case -as he was not permitted to do so by the Army establishment. Mr. Khan’s problem with the Army started when he wanted to change the head of ISI – the Army’s spy agency against the wish of the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Mr. Khan was removed from power. But the story didn’t end there. The Army runs a war to finish him and his party from the political scene.
The Army’s only option
The Pakistan army is known for political conspiracies. No government in Pakistan could survive without the Army’s approval. But unlike the past, this time the Army faces a difficult situation. Imran Khan is a different man with a different vision and mission. He takes politics as ibadah. It is his jihad. He’s incorruptible and uncompromising. He has a huge popular support base. He has brought intellectual revolution among the youths. By launching war on him, the Army will only earn its own disgrace. People will spit out on them in public with deep hatred.
If Imran Khan is killed by his enemies, he will be inspiring the Pakistani people from his grave. He will survive in people’s memory as one of the most popular heroes in the Muslim history. If he is jailed, he will return like Nelson Mandela. If he is exiled, he will come back like Imam Khomeini. So, the Army has reached a dead end. It has only one option. It must learn how to respect people as equal citizens and respect their political choice -which the Army officers didn’t learn in the last 75 years. They must retreat from politics -which is not included in their job description. They must stop committing dirty intrigues against Islamists, democrats, and patriots. They must stop doing secret assassinations and causing forced disappearances of the political activists. Like any professional Army of the world, they focus only on defending the country on the border -this is the only job that they are desired to do. They can also learn a lot from the enemy Army of India. If they wish to join politics, they can happily do so only after leaving the Army. Otherwise, they will be committing betrayal against the assigned duty to the state of Pakistan and to its people. Now the Pakistani people have little appetite to tolerate such betrayal. 01/07/2023