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> Constitution of Pakistan should Govern Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan: PILDAT Briefing on Parliamentary Oversight of the Defence Sector
PILDAT Briefing Session
January 14, 2010
Hotel Marriott, Islamabad

Indonesian CMR: Lessons for Pakistan[PDF]
Oversight of Security Sector in Turkey [PDF]
Turkey Study Visit Report [PDF]

Islamabad, January 14: The Constitution of Pakistan should govern relations between different organs of the state as well as civil-military relations for a sustainable democracy in Pakistan, believed experts and participants at a PILDAT Briefing on Parliamentary Oversight of the Defence Sector: Case Studies from Indonesia and Turkey.


Rule of law and good governance have to be the key by-products of a democratic order within which militaries find little space to intervene in politics. The relationship between the civilian political set-up and the military must be guided by the Constitution of Pakistan and the Parliament and Parliamentary Committees must exercise their available powers to establish and exercise an effective and responsible control and oversight of the defence sector in Pakistan, it was concluded.


The Speakers at the briefing included Mr. Javed Jabbar, Former Senator & Federal Minister for Information & Media Development who presented his findings and analysis on the topic of Indonesian Civil-Military Relations: Lessons for Pakistan on Parliamentary Oversight of the Defence Sector. Mr. Jabbar was part of a recent study visit to Indonesia alongside Senator S.M. Zafar, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Education, and Lt. Gen (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, former Governor Sindh, alongside others, who also shared their views at the briefing session. Begum Ishrat Ashraf, MNA and Member National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence (NA-372-Punjab-I, PML-N); was part of another Study Visit to Turkey for members from the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, facilitated by PILDAT and presented her experiences and learning from the Study Visit to Turkey for the benefit of Parliamentarians. Mr. Faisal Karim Kundi, MNA and Deputy Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan chaired the session and shared his insights from the two study visits of which he was a part.


Speaking at the session, Mr. Javed Jabbar began by comparing the similarities and differences between the Civil Military Relations of Indonesia and Pakistan. He said that while a comprehensive, systematic and responsible process of reform was undergoing in Indonesia to bring the defence sector under civilian political control, Pakistan faced relatively a lesser academic and research focus that the issue required here. He praised the role of PILDAT as the only organization which continued to engage in quality, non-partisan research and dialogue on the issue and share it periodically with Parliamentarians, the representatives of the people. He said that Parliamentary oversight of the Defence sector in Indonesia has a more detailed theoretical and written development than what has taken place in Pakistan. Indonesia continues to face the challenge of ĎSuhartoismí despite the departure of Suharto from power. There are several signs that both the civil and military sectors are willing to begin a new relationship after the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf in August 2008. He urged the Parliamentary Defence Committees to engage in a responsible and effective scrutiny of defence budget, and scrutinize various aspects of procedures for recruitment, training, promotion of personnel as well as procurement of weapons and equipment by the 3 services. He believed that one part of the required new legislation in Pakistan should aim to substantiate and to detail the potential role of the Ministry of Defence in overseeing more effectively the GHQ, AHQ, and NHQ of the 3 Services.


Begum Ishrat Ashraf, MNA, shared the lessons obtained from the Study Visit to Turkey and said that Pakistanís Parliamentary system, especially committees, enjoy more powers to oversee the defence sector than those available in Turkey. She, however, said that the Turkish leadership seems to have carried forward the process of reform and consolidation at a healthier and responsible pace in Turkey. Since the democratic system is delivering and people support the ruling party for the development and reforms introduced in the country, there is little reason for the military to intervene again. However, the relationship between the civil and the military even now is far from smooth in Turkey. She praised the system of state funding of political parties in Turkey that allowed parties to have party offices, trained staff and carry out much needed public policy research for the benefit of their MPs. She believed that Pakistan should seriously consider the system of state funding of political parties learning from the Turkish and other examples.


Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider endorsed the learning from Indonesia visit as shared by Mr. Javed Jabbar and highlighted that PILDAT has been making a serious, organized and research-based effort to improve civil-military relations for the past 6 years. He reiterated his view that military should remain under the control of the civilian political government; however the government must also deliver good governance. He said that the military follows a system of education and training through which an officer goes up the ranks in military whereas the military finds it strange that any individual, young or old, without any training or education, is given ministerial portfolios in the political system, a point which was widely contested by the participating Parliamentarians.


In the ensuing discussion that revolved mainly around civil-military relations in Pakistan, MPs questioned the legitimacy of the military to intervene in politics and the indemnity accorded to military rulers. Participants believed that bad governance is not a pre-requisite for military intervention anywhere in the world and military must adhere to its oath of service to Pakistan. Participants belonging to various shades of society, including analysts and the media believed that democratic governments must deliver but that continuity of democracy was required for development and good governance in Pakistan. Only the vote of the people is the legitimate means to change an elected government. It was pointed out that the training academy for the politician is the field of politics itself and unlike the regimented life of military, politicians everywhere learn on the job. There is, however, a need for better research and support facilities made available to Parliament and better investment by political parties into training their electoral candidates, as is the case in developed democracies. Both sides, civil and the military, should widen the dialogue, as witnessed in the briefing session, so that the closely-held negative perceptions about each other are dispended-with. Politicians and the military are the product of the same society and like any citizen should hold the interest of Pakistan supreme and conduct their professional lives and demarcation of their roles as prescribed in the Constitution of Pakistan.


Mr. Faisal Karim Kundi, who presided over the Briefing session, was part of a both Study Visits to Indonesia and Turkey, presented his own observations and learning obtained through these visits with the participants of the briefing. He highlighted the strength of the parliamentary system in Pakistan including achievements such as opposition MPs as Committee Chairs and said that Pakistanís Parliamentary Defence Committees have the powers and tools available to them to engage in an effective oversight of the defence sector. He said that both Indonesia and Turkey offer models of learning and comparison for Pakistanís civil-military relations as both countries, much like Pakistan, have had long periods of military rule but are moving towards democratic consolidation now. Kundi said that Pakistan and the Pakistani people are committed to the sustainability of democracy. The institutions of Parliament, especially the Parliamentary committees, need to employ their powers with responsibility to engage in an effective and responsible oversight of the defence sectors as well as other sectors. It is the job of the Parliamentary committees to hold government to account on behalf of the Parliament which is a custodian of the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Mr. Kundi thanked the role of PILDAT as an indigenous think tank and said that it is providing invaluable assistance to Parliament, Parliamentarians and Committees in an effective and responsible discharge of their responsibilities.


Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director of PILDAT, thanked both the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for supporting the Study Visit to Indonesia and the British High Commission for supporting the Study Visit to Turkey and highlighted that PILDAT remains committed to assist Parliament and Parliamentary committees for democratic control and oversight of the defence sector.

PILDAT shared 2 background papers and one report at the briefing session with participants namely background paper on Indonesian Civil-Military Relations: Lessons for Pakistan on Parliamentary Oversight of the Defence Sector; background paper on Politics of the Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector in Turkey and Report Pakistan Parliamentary Defence Committee Delegation Study Visit to Turkey: November 15-19, 2009.