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> Civil-Military Relations of Pakistan and Indonesia Compared

March 19, 2013

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March 19; Civil-Military Relations of Pakistan and Indonesia were compared today at PILDAT Discussion Forum on Indonesia’s Transition from Military Rule to Democracy: What can Pakistan Learn?

The Forum was organized so as to disseminate learning from PILDAT Study Visit to Indonesia which was held from February 11-14, 2013 at Jakarta, Indonesia.


Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, former MNA and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs chaired the session, while Maj. Gen. (Retd) Athar Abbas, former DG, ISPR, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Anis Bajwa, spokesman of the PTI on National Security and Defence issues, Mr. Saleem Safi, Senior Journalist/Anchor, Mr. Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, President, PILDAT and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director, PILDAT, spoke on the occasion. Members of the Parliament, Representatives of Civil Society and members of media participated in the Forum.

Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, while welcoming the participants said that PILDAT facilitated the Study Visit to Indonesia for Parliamentarians, intellectuals and media persons to understand and learn from the transition of Indonesia from Military rule to Democracy.


Presenting an overview of key learning from the Visit, Ms. Aasiya Riaz said that the delegation learnt that stability in transition from military to civil rule in Indonesia has come about through a variety of factors. First and foremost among these has been public demand for re-drawing non-political professional boundaries of the Military. Successive civilian elected governments and Parliament in Indonesia have carefully and effectively used the public mandate to put in place constitutional and legal boundaries and parameters regarding the role of military including that of barring military from politics and business, deployment of military and a legal framework governing intelligence agencies. Civil society and academia have worked closely with Parliament and Government in putting these frameworks in place. Parliament and its bodies overseeing Defence are both powerful and well-resourced. Military leadership, as and when invited, appears before the Parliamentary Commissions. Parliament also has an effective oversight on defence budget and strategic planning of the military. Military and Police have been separated and internal security has become the exclusive domain of the Police which previously was a duly shared by the military as well. Military quota in Parliamentary representation has been abolished and its members recalled.


On the other hand, the delegation learnt, that security sector reform came about in no small terms from military’s own willingness to change the governance structures. Many described this change in military thinking due to what they termed as ‘fragmentation’ in military in which younger crop of officers believed that military needed a reconstruction of the relationship between security sector and the people following the departure of President Suharto in 1998.

She also said that challenges to civil-military relations appear to be lingering in the shape of somewhat continued, though largely reduced, role of Indonesian military in business and commercial spheres. Minister of Defence of Indonesia shared with the Pakistan delegation that though legally, Military is to have no role in politics and business, it has continued to retain some enterprises, lands, businesses and golf courses, etc. Others mentioned military’s continuing clout at the local level due to its deployment which they believe must change.


Pakistan delegation found that some reforms worth considering for Pakistan include instituting a system of public funding of political parties based on a formula that takes into account both percentage of votes and seats secured by each party. A dialogue must

also begin in Pakistan on putting in place a legal framework for intelligence agencies specially those associated with the military. How the Indonesian military was legally barred from business and commercial activities while the political government stepped in to take care of welfare of military personnel also requires consideration by the decision-makers in Pakistan.

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Athar Abbas said that in transition in Indonesia has come about through inter-connectivity and harmony between the institutions. He also pointed out that Parliamentary Commissions in Indonesia are well resourced, qualified and well informed. He said that DCC is not a regular, permanent institution in Pakistan but Indonesia is already debating a law to establish National Security Council He also said that Indonesia recently increased 150% salaries of armed forces He said that at the moment almost 20% senior officers of army are sons of junior ranked soldiers. He said that no one can deny that there should be civilian control of armed forces but you can’t put ISI under Ministry of Interior. He also stressed that current military leadership did its best not to derail the system. He said that military is ready for the accountability.


Malik Amad Khan, former MNA, said we should learn from other countries but need to consider our own ground realities. He said that there should be some high level forum for civil and military consultations like DCC or NSC. He believed that Army bashing is not good for the country. He said that civilian are gradually getting space and with the passage of time the situation will further improve. He was of the view that to enhance role of Parliamentary committees, the right people should be placed in the committees who knows the subject well. He said it is wrong perception that Foreign policy is made by military, Foreign office gets input from different departments including Defence organizations.

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Anis Bajwa believed that the Study Visit to Indonesia was a good experience and Pakistan can learn lessons from transition in Indonesia. He said that public uprising after the economic crisis triggered the reformation in Indonesia and. Military also agreed to be a part of the reformation and accepted introduction of democracy. Transition in Indonesia was smooth and mutual civil military respect remained intact. He said that Pakistan needs some permanent institution to deal National Security with a permanent secretariat. He said that military should not execute the Foreign policy but it can give its feedback and input in policy matters. Military should recognize the superiority of elected political leadership.


Mr. Saleem Safi said Indonesia has no external threats while Pakistan has a different scenario and it is a national security state. In Indonesia, neither army nor political parties used religion as a tool. There are lots of complications in Pakistan in Civil Military Relations. In Indonesia, army has no role in domestic security. We should clearly define role of army, Intelligence agencies and police. Another achievement of Indonesian democratic Government is that they prohibited army from doing business. The political leadership of Indonesia proved its supremacy. Army is still handling the National Security and foreign policy affairs but we are reluctant to give them a constitutional role. He said that Pakistan does not have any general like Wiranto but our civilian political leadership was also not competent enough.

Mr. Humayun Saifullah Khan, former MNA was of the view that there is a start in last five years but to strengthen democracy there is lot more to be done. He said that army cannot take over if there is good governance. He said that politicians should improve their character to earn respect of society and military.


Ms. Shireen Arshad Khan, former MNA, said that now we have greater freedom to comment on 'generals'. Our civilian set up was not allowed to continue beyond 2 to 3 years. He said that corruption continues even when military heads a civilian institution. Army generally remained secretive. She was of the view that decision making is still with the military and still military decides about relations with India.

Study Visit to Indonesia, as facilitated by PILDAT, was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Hasil Bizenjo (National Party, Balochistan), while other delegates included Senator Mohammad Mohsin Leghari (Independent, Punjab), Mr. Nadeem Afzal Gondal, MNA, Chairman Public Accounts Committee, (NA 64, Sargodha, Punjab, PPPP), Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, MNA (NA-271, Kharan-cum-Panjgur, Balochistan, PML-N), Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Anis Bajwa, Focal Person of the PTI on Defence and National Security, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Athar Abbas, Former Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, Mr. Saleem Khan Safi, senior Journalist, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT.


Details about the Study Visit are documented in the shape of a PILDAT Report of the Study Visit to Indonesia was also unveiled at the Forum. http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/