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> Civil Military Dialogue
Dialogue for Parliamentarians
September 20-21, 2004
Hotel Marriott, Islamabad

Programme Details |


The first sitting of the ”Track 2 Civil Military Dialogue” was organized by PILDAT on September 20-21st, 2004 at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad, and was attended by 12 participants. PILDAT felt that a dialogue between the civil and military minds needed to be initiated to promote a greater understanding of each others perspectives. It is hoped that this dialogue may, in time, evolve into a mechanism and acquire such influence and respect that it contributes to the promotion of civil-military understanding. This understanding will hopefully eventually lead to a political arrangement in line with the constitution where both politicians and the military operate within their allotted confines like all stable democracies

The Dialogue was attended by the following participants:
  1. Lt. Gen. (R) Asad Durrani, Former Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Agency
  2. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Former Chief Minister Punjab
  3. Mr. Gohar Ayub Khan, Former Speaker National Assembly
  4. Lt. Gen. (R) Hamid Gul, Former Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Agency
  5. Dr. Hasan-Askari Rizvi, Political Analyst, Former Chairman Political Science Department,Punjab University
  6. Mr. Javed Jabbar, Former Federal Minister and Senator
  7. Dr. Mubashar Hassan, Former Federal Minister
  8. Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Editor in Chief, Daily Pakistan
  9. Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Former Senator and Provincial Minister
  10. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, MNA, Former Federal Minister
  11. Brig. (R) Shaukat Qadir, Former Vice President, Islamabad Policy Research Institute
  12. Lt Gen. (R) S. Tanwir H. Naqvi, Former Chairman National Reconstruction Bureau
The dialogue spanned over four working sessions. Working Session I was focused on “Situation-Analysis of Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan – where do we stand today?” The Session opened with Dr. Hasan-Askari Rizvi’s presentation on the subject. His main thesis was that the military has permeated into all major sectors of society with clear political and corporate interests. According to Dr.Askari the military is the most formidable and autonomous actor and a contender for power. A discussion lasting for about two hours ensued during which some participants agreed with Dr. Askari’s views while other disagreed. Some alternative viewpoints were also advanced.

The subject of Working Session II was “The Factors behind Military Intervention in the political system of Pakistan”. The speakers at this session were Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Former Senator and Provincial Minister, and Lt. Gen. (R) Asad Durrani, Former Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, emphasized that over a period of time, popular leaders and popular parties had been deliberately and systematically undermined and that he was unable to foresee political parties being strong enough to challenge military hold. He said that the military sought self-preservation through takeovers whenever it was challenged. According to Lt. Gen. (R) Asad Durrani, all military takeovers took place under different circumstances and for different reasons therefore it is difficult to find a common motivation for the interventions. He said the military has neither the will nor the desire to intervene; it was always forced to by circumstances. A discussion took place. A discussion took place among participants following the two presentations.
Working Session III entitled “Within the framework of the constitution of Pakistan, what maybe the key short, medium and long-term measures acceptable to both civil and military institutions to create a democratic dispensation and avoid military intervention in political affairs of the state?” consisted of presentations by Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, MNA, Former Federal Minister, and Lt Gen. (R) S. Tanwir H. Naqvi, Former Chairman National Reconstruction Bureau. Mr. Qureshi pointed out that contradictory civil-military perceptions were giving rise to polarization in the country that hindered a national consensus which was of vital importance. Mr. Qureshi stated that political parties needed reform and strengthening and media deserved more freedom. In conclusion, he emphasized that a crisis management strategy should be evolved in order to prevent future military interventions. According to General (R) Tanwir H. Naqvi, the underlying cause of army interventions has been the failure of civilian governments to govern with even a modicum of honesty and efficiency and therefore their failure to provide good governance. He stated that an institutional approach was needed rather than a political one, and suggested initiating a political dialogue as a means to seek a permanent institutional solution. According to General Naqvi, the Civil-Military Dialogue needs to focus on seeking an agreement and building a consensus among the current civilian and the military leadership on the restructuring of state institutions. He proposed some political reforms such as introduction of a Presidential form of government and creation of more provinces. He felt these reforms would result in political stability, therefore military interventions will become unnecessary. During the discussion that followed, participants gave their views on General Naqvi’s presentation. There was disagreement on some of the points raised by General Naqvi. Some participants felt that such large-scale restructuring was beyond the scope of this dialogue and that reform was an on-going exercise.

During the course of the discussion held during the Dialogue, some of the broad conclusions reached by participants were the following:
  • Military interventions are not desirable and there is a need to develop an institutional mechanism to prevent future interventions.
  • Political institutions and in particular political parties have weakened considerably as a result of military interventions and need to develop as a more cohesive force and work towards establishing a stable political system not vulnerable to military interventions.
  • Civilian parties are not absolved of responsibility for the frequency of military take-overs and have willingly co-opted with martial law regimes to promote their own interests.
  • There was not a consensus on the reasons why the military pursued political power. Among the different perceptions expressed by participants, the three main perspectives were:


  1. The military was not willing to intervene but the lack of political stability and poor governance forced it to take reign of the country in the interest of national security.
  2. Military takeovers took place in different circumstances and for different reasons. The only common denominator is a set of circumstances that threaten the country’s stability.
  3. The military has a very clear political agenda and corporate interests and has strategically infiltrated civilian institutions to establish its presence as it is a strong contender for political power
  • All participants thought it was futile to review the past and play the blame game and instead felt that they should learn from the past and use lessons learned to build a more cohesive relationship between civil and military institutions in the future.
  • Participants felt that institutional reform of both civil and military institutions was a priority that needed to be addressed.
  • All participants felt the need for the dialogue and agreed to continue the process.
  • It was agreed to explore the possibility of co-opting some active military minds into the dialogue by approaching the institution through their chain of command. Some participants agreed to assist this effort.