General Kayani's "Silent Coup" in Pakistan: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by ajtr, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    General Kayani's "Silent Coup" in Pakistan: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

    Pakistan's General Kayani, the man our leaders in Washington fawn over and who sits atop the intensely destabilizing "Strategic Depth" networks in Afghanistan, has just been handed a three year extension of his term as Chief of Army Staff by Prime Minister Gilani:
    The Pakistani government on Thursday gave the country's top military official, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, another three years in his post, a move that analysts said would bolster Pakistan's anti-terrorism fight and cement its role in neighboring Afghanistan.
    Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the extension in a late-night televised address to the nation. "To ensure the success of these [counter-terrorism] operations, it is the need of the hour that the continuity of military leadership should be maintained," he said.

    The impact on our war in Afghanistan is obvious, as both McClatchy and I included it in the lede; Call it "strategic depth" or "cementing its role," it all adds up to influence on Afghan President Karzai's government, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qa'eda, and the future of all of these players in Afghanistan.
    The short of it is that Kayani's extension is bad news for us, due to his cozy relationship with militants and terrorist organizations, as well as his undermining of the democratically elected civilian government. But the details are important, especially as they could mean the difference between uncontrolled escalation and our planned military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    For the complete picture, we'll take a look at what a few experts (read: bloggers) are saying to determine the good, the bad, and the ugly ramifications Kayani's extension has on the US war in Afghanistan.
    For the good news, we have Shuja Nawaz writing for the New Atlanticist [emphasis mine]:
    A major advantage that might accrue is that the certainty provided by the new term for the army chief will allow the civilian government to become confident in asserting itself in policy matters, knowing that the army chief will not overtly intervene in its affairs. This may help strengthen political institutions. At the same time, civilians must resist the temptation to turn to the army to lead the battle against militancy (a national endeavor not purely a military one) or to arbitrate differences on the political field.
    These three years should also give Kayani time to assess the present Higher Defense Organization of Pakistan and perhaps come up with a more devolved structure for the army and a better system of command and control at the center. One possible scenario may include regional and centralized commands at four-star rank, appointed by the same authority who selects the service chiefs, and a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs with real powers to regulate all the services while acting as the main military advisor of the government. This approach has been taken by the United States and many other modern militaries, so it would hardly be unprecedented. Without having a stake in the chairman's position in 2013, Kayani may be able to provide a dispassionate plan for the government to decide, well in advance of the next round of promotions in 2013. Any proposal that he presents as a disinterested party will have credibility and will also help override the parochial concerns of the army relative to the other services in Pakistan.

    It would be more than good news, it would be great news, if Kayani did work to minimize the role of the military in government, and created a civilian-military relationship similar to the US. But that only works if the first part is true, that Kayani's interference in politics would cease, allowing the civilian government to become more confident.
    That's where the bad news comes in. This isn't a case of the Army backing off it's role in politics, it is, in fact, a craven arrangement with the ruling political party. Arif Rafiq writes at AfPak Channel [emphasis mine]:
    Perceptions aside, three more years of Kayani could conceivably provide continuity to both Pakistan's military and political setup. In recent months, the consensus in Pakistan was that Kayani would receive a two-year extension. Gilani's choice of three years was a surprise. But not by mere coincidence, Gilani's government also has three years remaining in its tenure. And so it's certainly possible that there is a deal between Gilani's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Kayani, perhaps involving foreign guarantors, to let this ship sail for three more years (with Gilani wearing the captain's hat steering an imaginary wheel and Kayani actually in control). Indeed, Gilani alluded to a possible deal when he said today that Pakistan's four major "stakeholders" -- the president, prime minister, army chief, and Supreme Court chief justice -- are in a "secure position" till 2013. [...]
    And so for Kayani, who has managed to become the darling of many of Pakistan's nationalists and Islamists, there is some risk involved in continuing for another three years as army chief. If he ties himself too close to the PPP, he -- and more importantly, the Pakistani Army -- could lose a critical support base and sink along with the current government, unless he maintains a political distance and continues to pursue a semi-nationalist security policy.

    Gilani projects a false sense of confidence in the viability of Pakistan's current political-military setup. This is Pakistan. The Kayani extension provides a short-term ceasefire between the PPP and the army, but it will also likely produce re-alignments among its fractious power brokers. And another head-on clash between any two of them is not far from reality.

    Cutting a deal with the ruling elites of the status quo to stay in power is not the same as Kayani becoming a "disinterested party" in the government. That's not a democratic government, it's a puppet. In that sense Kayani's extension could be considered another in Pakistan's long history of military coups, albeit a completely silent one. This will agitate the opposition parties, namely the PML-N, and the Islamist party wouldn't be out of line to call for new, early elections, simply as a way of "re-checking" the legitimacy of the PPP-Kayani government.
    But that's not the worst part for the US war in Afghanistan. Pakistan's internal politics are important to us, but it's Kayani's national security and foreign policy that have truly ugly implications for the US. B.

    Raman writes on his blog [emphasis mine]:
    In the counter-insurgency operations against the TTP he has had partial successes in the Swat Valley, South Waziristan, Bajaur and Orakzai agencies. Under his leadership, the Army has been able to deny the TTP territorial control in these areas, but has not been able to destroy their capability for terrorist strikes and commando-style raids in tribal as well as non-tribal areas. While arresting some leaders of the Afghan Taliban, who were living in Karachi and other non-tribal areas, he has avoided action against the Afghan Taliban leadership operating from the tribal areas.
    He has avoided any action against Al Qaeda elements which have taken sanctuary in the non-tribal areas. Under Musharraf, the Army and the ISI were much more active against Al Qaeda in the non-tribal areas than they have been under Kayani. The anger of Al Qaeda and its associates against Musharraf because of the action taken by the Army and the ISI was responsible for the virulent campaign of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri against Musharraf and the Army. They abused Musharraf as apostate, collaborator of the Hindus etc and thrice tried to kill him---once in Karachi and twice in Rawalpindi. Compared to that, there is hardly any Al Qaeda campaign against Kayani. There is a greater threat to Mr.Zardari from Al Qaeda than to Kayani. The Army and the ISI have managed to create an impression in the tribal areas that Mr.Zardari and not Gen.Kayani is responsible for the facilities extended to the US for its Drone (pilotless plane) strikes in the tribal areas. Since Gen.Kayani took over, while many Al Qaeda leaders have been killed in the tribal areas by the Drone strikes, there have been very few arrests of Al Qaeda elements in the non-tribal areas. Al Qaeda feels more secure in the non-tribal areas of Pakistan today than it was under Musharraf.

    If you missed that, let me spell it out for you: Kayani's extension is good for Al-Qa'eda. Yes, that Al-Qa'eda. The terrorist guys.
    Then there's all that other stuff about the Afghan Taliban - Mullah Omar's Quetta Shura in Balochistan, as well as the Haqqani Network, who're responsible for the vast majority of terrorist and insurgent attacks on our US troops in Afghanistan.

    How does the US feel about this? Nawaz:
    The United States has studiously avoided taking a public position but conversations with U.S. diplomats and military officials over the past few months indicated their deep interest in the future of General Kayani and a noticeable desire to see him remain at the helm of affairs in Pakistan.

    Some of Pakistan's nationalist and Islamist commentators have also reacted with suspicion toward Kayani's extension, describing it as a result of Hillary Clinton's "lobbying"

    Kayani is thought of well both by the Pentagon and the PLA leadership

    And a flashback to Sue Pleming's report on Kayani's visit to Washington:
    Guests crowded around Kayani at the annual Pakistani National Day party at the embassy, posing for photos and jostling for the military leader's ear.[...]
    U.S. senators and Obama administration officials lined up to speak to the slim and dapper general, who Pakistani media say rules the roost back home but is also central to U.S. relations with Islamabad.

    Damn, we really love this guy. What are we thinking? Whatever it is we like about him - his style, his centered demeanor, his subtle hand in politics - General Kayani is still just another military dictator, another crook in a long line of corrupt, tyrannical, warmongering thugs. He is not our ally, not our friend, and his extension, now a full fledged dictatorship complete with a compliant, ruling political party, is just plain bad news for the United States.
    The US must immediately end all military aid to Pakistan, and should pursue sanctions against the ruling elites in the PPP until such time as their government can prove its legitimacy by way of free and fair democratic elections. Barring such extreme measures, the US must engage exclusively with Pakistan's civilian government, while working toward greater inclusion of opposition parties like the PML-N (who are presently too close to radical Saudi Arabia, and could stand to be moderated with more international influence).

    More importantly, the US must end its war in Afghanistan. Not only is not in our interests to fight a civil war in Afghanistan, but it is even less in our interests to have our US troops used as pieces in Kayani's personal chessboard. Our troops fight and die for our national defense, not for Kayani's insane militarist objectives against India. Pakistan is catastrophically unstable, and US military leaders are moving to escalate our involvement. Further war in the region will prove to be disastrous for the US.

    Reforming our relations with the Pakistani government can be slow and doesn't have to be as extreme as an immediate freeze. The PPP government can be allowed time and support to again free themselves of Kayani's control, such as when they tried to grab control of the ISI, Pakistan's terror-supporting spy agency, in 2008. But we cannot wait to end the war in Afghanistan.

    The war puts Americans in danger, it is destroying our economy, and now with Kayani's empowerment, our objectives in Afghanistan become all the more hopeless and impossible. We have to bring our troops home, get them out of this civil war in Afghanistan and proxy war with Pakistan, and only then can we move on to accomplishing our objectives, be they counter-terrorism, development, or human rights.

    We must end this war now, lest one more US soldier die so that General Kayani can "cement his role" in Afghanistan.

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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    General Kayani's quiet coup

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    Late in April, Ashfaq Pervez Kayani stood before a solemn audience that had gathered to mark Martyrs Day.

    “There is no greater honour than martyrdom”, Pakistan's army chief said, “nor any aspiration greater than it. When people are determined to achieve great objectives, they develop the faith needed to trust their lives to the care of Allah. We are well aware of the historical reality that nations must be willing to make great sacrifices for their freedom”. “I am proud”, he went on, “that the nation has never forgotten the sacrifices of its martyrs and holy warriors”.

    If it hadn't been for General Kayani's impeccably-ironed military uniform, his audience might have been forgiven for believing that the speech was being made by the Islamist clerics who have exhorted insurgents to claim the lives of over 2,700 Pakistani troops in combat.

    Pakistan's Prime Minister went on national television in July to give his country's army chief an unprecedented three year extension of service. The decision has won applause in some western capitals, as well as from some liberal and conservative commentators in Pakistan. In the midst of a bitter war against Islamists many believe poses the greatest existential threat Pakistan has ever faced, Kayani's supporters believe its army needs continuity of leadership.

    Those propositions might be true — but casts little light on the strategic considerations which have given Kayani three more years in office. Pakistan's army hopes, in essence, that Kayani will be able to craft a way out of the crisis without compromising the power and influence of its generals.

    Islamabad elites had long been discussing Kayani's plans to secure an extension; this newspaper carried an extensive discussion of the issue in March. Key politicians, though, were evidently clueless. On May 17, Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said the government “was neither granting extension to Chief of Army Staff; nor had the general sought it.” But just a week later, media reported that a conference of corps commanders had called for an extension.

    Some accounts hold that President Asif Ali Zardari, who is distrusted by the army, had little choice but to accept this fait accompli. Other commentary suggests both President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani went along with decision, hoping to stave off any confrontation with the armed forces until 2013 — the year their terms in office end. Either way, as Pakistani lawyer and political commentator Asma Jehangir has noted, the extension suggests “that democracy has not taken root. The decision was taken on the basis of obvious pressure from the military”.

    But just what was it that drove this pressure? Pakistan's army isn't, after all, short of competent commanders. “My advice to Kayani”, wrote the commentator Kamran Shafi days before the extension, “would be to issue his last Order of the Day on the appointed date of his retirement, receive his successor in General Head-Quarters, and after a cup of tea get into his private car and fade away.” There are good reasons, though, why that advice wasn't heeded.

    The Pakistan army's agenda

    Kayani is at the centre of three projects critical to the long-term power of the Pakistan army. The first is this: extricating the Pakistan army from a counter-insurgency campaign that appears unwinnable. During Kayani's visit to troops in Orakzai on June 1, the Pakistan army announced “the successful conclusion of operations in the Agency”. But, as analyst Tushar Rajan Mohanty recently pointed out, it has admitted to over a dozen engagements there since, involving the use of combat jets and helicopter gunships. Refugees displaced last year are yet to return.

    Hoping to manoeuvre an exit, Kayani has escalated support to the jihadist networks of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani. Last week, Canadian diplomat Chris Alexander — who spent seven years serving his country and the United Nations in Afghanistan — charged Kayani with “sponsoring a large-scale, covert guerrilla war through Afghan proxies.” “Without Pakistani military support,” Alexander asserted “all signs are the Islamic Emirate's combat units would collapse”. Earlier, Harvard University's Matt Waldman quoted Islamic Emirate commanders admitting that the ISI's role was “as clear as the sun in the sky.”

    Kayani, the Pakistan army hopes, will be able to secure its allies power in a future regime in Kabul — and then use their influence to scale back its conflict with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan at home. Pakistan has, notably, offered to broker a rapprochement between its jihadist allies and Afghan President Hamid Karzai's regime.

    Linked to this objective, Kayani is working to heal President Musharraf's rupture with domestic jihadists — a constituency who were once drawn to state-backed organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, but have been increasingly supporting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Pakistan's India policy is being reinvented by Kayani to this end: the second project he needs time to see to fruition.

    In a thoughtful 2002 paper for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, George Perkovich cast light on Musharraf's reappraisal of Pakistani military strategy on India. Lieutenant-General Moinuddin Haider, who served as interior minister under President Musharraf, told Perkovich he argued that the long-term costs of continuing to back jihadists would be higher than the potential losses from taking them on. President Musharraf feared that confrontation would provoke a civil war. “I was the sole voice initially”, Haider said, “saying, ‘Mr. President, your economic plan will not work, people will not invest, if you don't get rid of extremists.'”

    Haider gathered allies — among them Pakistan's former intelligence chief, Lieutenant-General Javed Ashraf Qazi. “We must not be afraid,” General Qazi said in the wake of the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan military crisis “of admitting that the Jaish was involved in the deaths of thousands of innocent Kashmiris, bombing the Indian Parliament, [the journalist] Daniel Pearl's murder and even attempts on President Musharraf's life.”

    But Musharraf did little to develop an institutional consensus around these ideas — and, as his legitimacy eroded, proved unable to make a decisive break with the past. Many in the Pakistan army blamed him for precipitating the internal crisis which developed during his term in office. Like so often in the past, the Pakistan army moved to force out a commander-turned-liability.

    Ever since Kayani replaced Musharraf, there has been mounting evidence that the Pakistan army is seeking to renew hostility with India. In 2008, the United States was reported to have confronted Pakistan's army with evidence that the ISI was involved in a murderous attack on the Indian diplomatic mission in Kabul. Later that year, it is now known from the testimony of Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley, the ISI facilitated the carnage in Mumbai. Pakistan has denied its intelligence services were linked to the Mumbai attacks, but has neither questioned the officials Headley named, nor sought to interrogate him on the issue.

    In February, Kayani told journalists the Pakistan army was an ‘India-centric institution', adding that this “reality will not change in any significant way until the Kashmir issue and water disputes are resolved”.

    Language like this fits well with the intellectual climate of Pakistan's armed forces. Lieutenant-General Javed Hassan — who played a key role commanding Pakistan forces during the Kargil war — was commissioned by the army's Faculty of Research and Doctrinal Studies to produce a guide to India for serving officers. In India: A Study in Profile, published by the military-owned Services Book Club in 1990, Hassan argues that is driven by “the incorrigible militarism of the Hindus.” “For those that are weak,” he goes on, “the Hindu is exploitative and domineering.”

    Faced with a flailing war against jihadists at home, Kayani's anti-India platform offers the army the strategic equivalent of an escape button: precipitating a crisis with a historic adversary, secure in the knowledge that Pakistan's nuclear umbrella guarantees it protection from a large-scale war. Pakistan's military, many Indian foreign policy analysts believe, precipitated the bruising showdown between Foreign Ministers SM Krishna and Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad last month, undermining the fragile dialogue between the two countries.

    India and Afghanistan are just parts, though, of the third, and most important project: guaranteeing the political primacy of the Pakistan army. In the wake of President Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq's assassination in 1988, Pakistan developed what the scholar Hussain Haqqani — now his country's ambassador to the United States — described as “military rule by other means.” Hasan-Askari Rizvi noted that the army chief became the “pivot” for political system. The army chief, in turn, derived his authority from the corps commanders who addressed “not only security, professional and organisational matters, but also deliberate on domestic issues”.

    In January 2008 General Kayani passed a directive which ordered military officers not to maintain contacts with politicians, and followed up with orders withdrawing serving personnel from civilian institutions. The move was interpreted as evidence of Kayani's commitment to genuine civilian-led democracy. But Kayani repulsed President Zardari's early efforts to bring the ISI under civilian control, and defeated his efforts to seek a grand rapprochement with India. Pakistan's army proved willing to cede influence over the administration of the state, but not over the structure and thrust of national strategy.

    “The army is the nation,” General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani said in his Martyrs Day speech, “and the nation is with the army.” Ensuring that this pithy proposition survives the crisis Pakistan is faced with is the purpose of the silent coup that has given Kayani three more years in office.

    Pakistan's army hopes its chief will be able to craft a way out of the many crises the country is confronted with.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Arrest Kayani and His Cohorts to Save Pakistan

    It is time, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani, fires the Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani, and the top officials at the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
    Mr. Gilani is also required to file a First Investigation Report (FIR) at the nearest police station against Kayani and the ISI bosses for the murder of 3,400 Pakistanis; these Pakistanis were killed by suicide bombings carried out by the terrorists directly under the command and control of Kayani and his ISI cohorts.
    Mr. Gilani would have to make sure that the police acts on his FIR and arrests Kayani and his cohorts, locks them up and presents them in a court to be tried under the law for mass murder and treason.
    The spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan has said that the contents of the WikiLeaks disclosures are mere lies; this false statement made the whole world look down upon the Islamabad government as nothing but a bunch of stubborn liars. Mr. Gilani would have to act to remove this dark stain from the face of the Pakistani nation.
    Between us Pakistanis, it is not that dark a stain on our faces. We Pakistanis take pride in our skillful lies. To tell lies, not to tell the truth, is our culture. The politicians and the generals are the most practiced liars in Pakistan.
    However, the world outside Pakistan is different. The world outside Pakistan may not be willing to buy Pakistani lies. The parents of the British and the American soldiers in Afghanistan are going to raise hell and force their governments to act against Pakistan, to cut the aid off, to punish it the way Taliban’s Afghanistan was punished.
    Lying through the teeth and demanding to prove the WikiLeaks charges against Pakistan is not going to work; it did not work with Taliban’s Afghanistan. Does anybody remember Taliban denying complicity after 9/11 and demanding the Americans to come up with a proof?
    Well, the Americans proved that they meant business.

    Prime Minister Cameron visiting India.
    The Islamabad regime failed to realize the fact that by calling the WikiLeaks material a pack of lies, it would not be able to convince anybody simply because the Americans themselves are not challenging the credibility of their own classified documents and are, rather, trying to contain the damage caused by the leaks.
    The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, displayed utmost contempt as he verbally attacked Pakistan in Delhi. He refuses to withdraw his condemnation of Pakistan as a sponsor of terrorism and the People of Britain stand solidly behind him. Next thing; Mr. Cameron gets physical.
    Chris Alexander, Canada’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, recently said in an article:
    “The Pakistan army under Gen. Kayani is sponsoring a large-scale, covert guerrilla war through Afghan proxies – whose strongholds in Baluchistan and Waziristan are flourishing. Their mission in Afghanistan is to keep Pashtun nationalism down, India out and Mr. Karzai weak…

    “It has nothing to do with Islam, whose principles they trample; indeed, the flower of Afghanistan’s ulema (religious leaders) have been among their victims…
    “Gen. Kayani and others will deny complicity. But as the WikiLeaks material demonstrates, their heavy-handed involvement is now obvious at all levels…
    “In Pakistan, Taliban-led suicide attacks since 2007 have killed an estimated 3,400 – mostly civilians. Thousands more have been killed in operations to root militants out of Swat, Bajaur, Kurram, South Waziristan and elsewhere.” [1]
    So far, Pakistan has four nations accusing it of sponsoring terrorism presently; Afghanistan, India, Britain and Canada. There may soon be a fifth country joining the chorus; Pakistan’s dear ally, the United States of America. The American people can force the White House and the State Department to change course and treat Pakistan the way the U.S. treated Taliban’s Afghanistan after 9/11.
    The Taliban backed Al-Qaidah against the West and lost; by backing Kayani and cohorts, the present Islamabad regime would meet the same fate.
    Mr. Gilani needs to take one look at the devastation Afghanistan had been through for not handing over the terrorists to the West after 9/11.
    If Kayani and his ISI cohorts are not fired, arrested and prosecuted, Mr. Gilani should know, Pakistan would lose its last chance of redemption.
    To the NATO arsenal of cruise missiles and fleets of B52 and Stealth bombers, are now added swarms of the low-cost, field-tested, drones.
    Arrest Kayani and company, Mr. Gilani, and save Pakistan, its people and your own self.
    - Article Contributed By: Syed F. Hussaini
    [1] Chris Alexander’s article was posted on by DONN as an iLog titled: Globe and Mail- The huge scale of Pakistan’s complicity.
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    The Soft Coup in Pakistan

    Ashok K. Behuria and Shamshad A. Khan

    August 3, 2010
    Prime Minister Gilani granted another full tenure of three years to General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff on 22 July 2010. In a nationally televised speech in Urdu that evening, Gilani paid glowing tributes to the Army Chief and said that the success in the army operations in Malakand, Swat and South Waziristan was achieved under the leadership of General Kayani who planned and implemented the policies for the elimination of terrorism. He also added that “this decision has been made in view of his active role against terrorism and I am confident that under the leadership of the Army Chief this war against terrorism will lead to its logical conclusion.”

    This decision did not come as a surprise. The speculation over Kayani’s extension was rife in the Pakistani media as the November 29 deadline of his retirement was approaching closer. Earlier it was speculated that he will get only a one year extension so as not to hurt the aspirations of other army generals who are awaiting promotions. But a three-year extension means General Kayani will stay in office up to November 2013 and outlast both Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari.

    In his speech Gilani went further and said, “I want to give a message to the nation that at this time, the prime minister, president, CJP and COAS are now in a secure position till 2013. They must now work within the ambit of Constitution.” What Prime Minister Gilani left unsaid was that Kayani’s extension was too critical for the survival of his government in the face of the restive opposition and the declining economic and security situation at home. Or conversely, if Kayani’s tenure would not have been extended, it would have posed critical challenges to the existence of his government. Would it have resulted in a coup if Kayani’s term had not been extended? Was there no other General available to lead the army at this moment?

    The daily Dawn in its editorial captured it well: “The public does not know yet, perhaps it never will, if the decision was a total capitulation or the result of a quid pro quo.”1

    Curiously enough, Gilani also referred to ‘security’ of the Chief Justice’s tenure in his statement. Was it a signal to the CJ that he did not any longer face a threat from either his government or the Army? Gilani kept the door open for more such surprises in future when he said that for the sake of “consistency and continuity” in the ongoing war on terror, “we have already given extension to the ISI director general and some other generals and may do so in future as well.”

    Ever since Musharraf’s fortunes plummeted, Kayani’s stars have been on the rise. Kayani has quietly but firmly carved out his niche in the emerging political system of Pakistan ever since he was chosen to lead the Pakistan army in November 2007. He stayed neutral in the post-election politics that forced Musharraf to resign. Later, he insulated himself successfully from the tussle between Zardari government and the Chief Justice and earned respect from both.

    He assumed centre-stage during the Pak-US strategic dialogue in early 2010 and led the process of collating the ‘wish list’ from the Pakistani side. In fact, he called all federal secretaries to the GHQ to brief him on Pakistan’s needs which could be presented to the US government during the first strategic dialogue in Washington. Such is the stature of the Pakistani army that even if the delegation was led by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistani foreign minister, General Kayani, the US papers wrote, was the star attraction of the delegation.

    Kayani also demonstrated his willingness to oblige the Americans by his operations in Swat and FATA. His hobnobbing with Taliban and his much-touted secret dealings with Karzai for reconciliation with Taliban might have provoked the ire of the Americans. However, the Americans would blame Karzai more than Kayani for keeping the US out of the loop.

    The Americans all along knew that the only institution that mattered for them in Pakistan was the army. They have consistently maintained their links with the Pakistani army without bothering too much about its implications for the ongoing democratic transition in Pakistan. Earlier too, the American commitment to democracy sub-served their strategic interests in the region. The US contribution to dominance of the army in Pakistani politics has not received the attention it deserves. In the case of Kayani’s extension, which resolved beyond doubt the primacy of army in the evolving system, the American nod may have played a crucial role. Observers in Islamabad point out that the soft and invisible coup in Islamabad could not have been there without tacit American blessings.

    Kayani’s extension puts him in the driver’s seat for various reasons. During his second, and possibly last tenure (if he does not step in, invoking the ‘doctrine of necessity’), he will be less amenable to pressures from the civilian government. He has already expressed his views on India, Afghanistan and the neighbourhood and will continue with his search for parity with India at one level and strategic depth in Afghanistan on the other. He may get Pasha’s tenure (his trusted lieutenant) extended to coincide with his own. Last but not the least, he will play a crucial role in the next elections in early 2013.

    This is not however the first time that the term of a serving Army Chief has been extended in Pakistan. Other Generals who had enjoyed extended tenures as Army Chiefs were Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Musharraf, who were dictators and extended their tenures by themselves. In this case, however, Kayani’s term was extended by a democratically elected government. The only other General who was offered a similar extension by a civilian government (headed by Benazir Bhutto) was Wahid Kakar, which he had graciously refused.

    Ironically, the very government which sought to the reestablish supremacy of the civilian government in Pakistan and brought in the 18th amendment to this effect has demonstrated its weaknesses vis-à-vis the military.

    Moreover, Kayani’s extension can no way be termed as purely an internal one. Pakistani vernacular Urdu media has argued that there were many external actors who played their roles behind the scenes. One said that China was impressed with Kayani’s military leadership because of burgeoning military ties between the two countries and requested an extension of his term when President Zardari recently visited China (Daily Khabrain, 23 July 2010). Yet another report in the same paper suggested that the Americans as well as the British did not want any change in the Pakistani military leadership in view of the impending withdrawal of their forces from Afghanistan.

    Since the extension was announced against the backdrop of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan, the Pakistani media (especially the urdu language newspapers) argued that the US had lobbied for Kayani’s extension. Columnist Sarfaraz Syed in Ausaf (Urdu daily) observed that “this extension could have been better, had it happened before US secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit.”2 Another columnist Abbas Mehkari presented a counter argument in the daily Jang (Urdu daily) that those who were arguing that the decision was taken under American pressure, ignored “the professional capabilities (of Kayani) and forget that Pakistan is fighting a war which is extremely complex.”3 The only people critical of the extension were from Jamaat-i-Islami, the party fiercely opposed to the Zardari government.

    These debates apart, the political situation within Pakistan is likely to remain unstable, even after Kayani’s extension. The PML-N and the religious parties seem to be preparing themselves to take on the Zaradri government over various issues ranging from the declining economic situation to the situation in Afghanistan, Balochistan and FATA. Any political instability will strengthen the hands of the army further. The final decision to allow democracy a chance will remain in the hands of the army. As long as the civilian government toes the army’s line on foreign policy and security issues, and there is relative peace on the political front, Kayani’s Army may not usurp power. However, it will continue to determine Pakistan’s approach towards India.

    Known for his hardline stance vis-à-vis India, Kayani is likely to take every possible measure to isolate India in Afghanistan and constrain its activities there. It is also quite probable that there will be an effort to intensify the level of insurgency in Kashmir and other areas within India. As the situation will turn in Pakistan’s favour in Afghanistan, the Pakistan army may seek to divert the attention of the jihadis towards Kashmir, to take advantage of the political turmoil in the valley.

    In this context, India has to prepare itself for the consequences of an unstable Pakistan headed by a weak civilian government, effectively controlled by the army. Even after the 18th amendment and restoration of civilian government in Pakistan, the army is likely to remain strong as ever. Hence, talking merely to the civilian dispensation will not help. The military of Pakistan has to be part of any creative framework for dialogue in future.

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