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> Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | Jun 2017
   
 
CMR Monitor
July 13, 2017
Islamabad

   

This monitor is meant to identify key developments during the month on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments included occasionally.


In this Issue:

1. Civil-Military Relations and the JIT

2. COAS and the Parachinar Sit-In

3. COAS on Drone Strikes and Mainstreaming of FATA

4. Pakistan responds to Afghan Accusations

5. The 'Davis' Disputes

6. Fencing of the Pakistan Afghan Border

7. COAS and the Umra for Pakistan Cricket Team

8. Kashmir and Balochistan??

9. Controversy Surrounding Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif as Head of Islamic Military Coalition

10. Welcome Increase in the Periodicity of the National Security Committee Meetings

11. PM-COAS Interactions

12. Martial Law Imposed by President of Philippines to quell Islamic Militant Siege in Marawi


Civil-Military Relations and the JIT

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Federal Judicial Academy where the proceedings of JIT are being carried out

The month of June 2017 has seen the proceedings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, mired in controversy overall while we evaluate these through the lens of civil-military relations.

Pakistan is witnessing a worrying trend that the Military is being sucked into spheres that are outside of its professional scope and competence. Not only that military institutions such as the ISI and the MI do not have the professional role to investigate white collar crime, the Honourable Supreme Court should not have inducted military agencies into highly politicized Panama Case enquiry. PILDAT had earlier raised concern on the inclusion of members of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) in the JIT. In our April 2017 monitor on Civil Military Relations, we observed that ' while the inclusion of members from ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) and MI (Military Intelligence) is rather odd as the investigation of Panama Case does not directly match with their departmental roles and expertise, it is even more odd that a member of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), being the prime civilian intelligence agency, was not included in the JIT. '

Developments during June led further credence to these concerns. The JIT in its report presented to the Supreme Court on June 13, 2017, which was subsequently leaked to the media, alleged that the IB was involved in hacking of the Facebook account of JIT member Bilal Rasul to retrieve contents that were then used by Mr. Hussain Nawaz as he presented them to the Supreme Court in his complaint. [1] It further accused the IB of deploying his field staff near the residence of a JIT member, who later also questioned the housekeeper. [2] The Supreme Court on June 19, 2017 characterized the IB as having become 'private sleuths' and sought Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali's assistance in determining on what legal grounds the IB has become 'private sleuths.' [3]

In its rejoinder to the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister House alleged that 'the reliance and reference to 'technical analysis' (by the JIT in its application to the Supreme Court) is an admission by JIT of phone tapping and monitoring of witnesses, a violation of the law and the Constitution.' [4] This has created the impression of the use of the resources of ISI and the MI in compiling of the report presented to the Supreme Court.

Prime Minister's speech after his appearance before the Joint Investigation Team on June 15, 2017 in which he said that 'the time of the hidden hand is long gone; now, puppet masters can no longer play their games,' [5] has also caused apprehensions over possible civil military friction.

 

COAS and the Parachinar Sit-In

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Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa meeting tribal elders in Parachinar on June 30, 2017

With COAS personally concluding the negotiations with the agitating crowd leading to the end of the dharna (sit-in) in Parachinar, the concerns grow that the Military seems to be over-extending itself further into areas that neither fall into its professional responsibility nor professional competence.

Following the bomb blast in Parachinar on June 23, 2017, the locals started a sit-in, which went on to include a number of demands, among them being a better compensation package for the victims, a visit by the Chief of Army Staff, General Bajwa and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, security of the district handed over to Khurram militia, and the dismissal of FC commander allegedly responsible for firing on the protestors.

General Bajwa visited Parachinar on June 30, 2017 after which the sit-in was called off. According to the ISPR press release, General Bajwa, among other things, announced a safe city project for Parachinar in which CCTV cameras will be installed as was done in Lahore and Islamabad. He also announced the transfer of FC commander and claimed that inquiry into firing by FC troops while 'handling mob situation' was being undertaken. The press release also stated that the 'Army fully supports mainstreaming of FATA which is being pursued and its early implementation is essential for enduring peace and stability.' [6]

While the COAS announced a whole host of arrangements in Parachinar much beyond security, neither the Prime Minister nor any Federal Minister visited Parachinar - reportedly due to 'security concerns' - while the compensation package announced by the PM on June 06, 2017 was already rejected by the protestors.

The whole episode raises serious questions over civilian elected Government not fulfilling its responsibilities in an efficient and timely manner. It remains unclear as to what exactly were the security concerns that stopped Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federal Ministers and the Prime Minister from visiting Parachinar while the COAS was able to visit the area. Was it a case of civil administration creating a vacuum by its inaction which was eventually filled by the Military? Or was it a case where the agencies responsible for the security of the area advised against visit by the political leadership? In any case, it is unwise to push the Armed Forces into assuming the responsibilities which are primarily those of the civilian administration.

 

COAS on Drone Strikes and Mainstreaming of FATA

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Chief of Army Staff (center) at the Peshawar Corps Headquarters on June 14, 2017

According to ISPR's press release following Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Jawed Bajwa's visit to the Peshawar Corps Headquarters on June 14, 2017, General Bajwa termed unilateral actions like drone strikes 'counter-productive and against the spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being diligently undertaken by Pakistan.' [7]This was in apparent reference to the US drone strike a day earlier in the Spin Thall area of Orakzai Agency, which killed Haqqani commander Abubakar. [8]

The June 14, 2017 ISPR Press Release also quoted General Bajwa as stating that 'early mainstreaming of FATA through reforms is essential and Pakistan Army fully supports all efforts towards that end.' [9]


Pakistan responds to Afghan Accusations

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Corps Commander Conference on June 06, 2017

Following accusations from Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) that blamed Pakistan to be behind deadly blasts in Kabul's diplomatic quarters in March and April, .[10] [11]a number of civil-military huddles took place in Pakistan to respond to these accusations.

A special meeting of the National Security Committee was held on June 07, 2017, which was a welcome change as the NSC met within 7 days of the earlier NSC meeting. The NSC ' strongly condemned the … incident of terrorism in Kabul and resolved to remain steadfast and resolute in support of Afghan people.'[12] The NSC also stated that 'Pakistan has shown exceptional restraint even when Afghan territory was used for terrorist acts in Pakistan which resulted in massive human losses. Pakistan was fully cognizant of institutional collaboration by elements hostile to Pakistan and will defend resolutely against manifest and future threats.' [13]

A Corps Commanders meeting preceded the NSC meeting. The ISPR statement reporting on the meeting conveyed that the 'forum took exception to the unwarranted accusations and threats against Pakistan.' [14] The top brass of the Pakistan Army also stated that 'instead of blaming Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to look inward and identify the real issues.' [15]The forum also expressed 'solidarity with the Afghan people and Security forces on loss of precious lives' and 'vowed to continue its support and cooperation with Afghanistan in fight against terrorism and militancy.' [16]

 

The 'Davis' Disputes

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Mr. Raymond Davis (right) and the cover of his book The Contractor: How I Landed in Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis (left)

The infamous Mr. Raymond Davis, the private contractor of the US government who shot dead two Pakistani citizens in Lahore on January 27, 2011, in his book, The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis , has made claims that have stirred a great deal of controversy in Pakistan. Mr. Davis has claimed the direct involvement of the Inter Services Intelligence in securing his release and has even alleged that 18 family members of victims, who were paid blood money through application of Qisas law, were threatened by the ISI into accepting it. [17]

Excerpts appearing in media from the book authored by Mr. Davis allege that the then Director General of the ISI Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Ahmed Shuja Pasha was present in the courtroom on March 16, 2011 (the day he was acquitted by the Court) and was continually texting US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter 'updating him about court proceedings.' [18]

Chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Mr. Imran Khan, in a statement issued by PTI's central media office on July 01, 2017, has said that 'the book tells the shameful story about the nexus between (our) civil-military leadership in arranging the escape of a brutal murderer.' [19]

In a press conference on July 02, 2017, Chief Minister of Punjab Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, said that Mr. Davis' book has 'set the record straight by making it clear that neither the PML-N government nor I or Nawaz Sharif played any role in the release.' [20]Chief Minister Sharif also said that the people mentioned in Davis' book should be asked about his release from prison and that 'names of those who approached the victim's families [to make them accept blood money] also stand exposed.' [21]

A view is also expressed that the timing of the release of this book may have its own agenda of creating or feeding certain perceptions inimical to the image of the Inter Services Intelligence.

While the narrative in Mr. Davis' book does not need to be taken at face value, it raises serious questions pertaining to Pakistan's national security, foreign affairs as well as legal propriety that need to be clarified by those involved in the incident. After all, three Pakistani citizens were killed, with two of them shot dead by Mr. Davis himself. Those allegedly involved have not so far denied claims made in the book. An investigation must be carried out of the whole affair and the results of that investigation made public. This matter involves national security and not just implicates the security apparatus of the country but also the questions the propriety of the trial that led to Mr. Davis' release.

 

Fencing of the Pakistan Afghanistan Border

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Image of the fencing shared by ISPR in its press release on June 20, 2017

PILDAT has continued to advocate for the pressing need for a better-managed Western border. Our focus stems from the belief that no State can survive with soft borders and unless Pakistan secures its borders, it will continue to face a host of issues branching not only in internal and external complications to security but also matters relating to health and trade, among others.

It is, therefore, a very welcome development that fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has commenced. The first phase, as announced by the ISPR, would involve the fencing of 'high infiltration prone areas in Bajaur, Mohmand, and Khyber' [22]while in phase 2 the rest of the border including Balochistan would be fenced. [23]

 

COAS and the Umra for the Pakistan Cricket Team

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Tweet of the DG ISPR announcing Umrah for the Pakistan team on June 18, 2017

The official public relations body representing the 3 branches of the Pakistan Military, the Inter-Services Public Relations, is often admired for the speed and efficiency with which it puts forward news and perspectives representing the Military. In recent times, it was perhaps at its quickest when within minutes following the win of the Pakistan Cricket Team in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy on June 18, the ISPR issued a tweet congratulating the Pakistan Cricket Team for the win on behalf of the COAS.[24]

The tweet, however, did not just extend felicitations to the team. It went on to announce 'Umrah for the team' as well, on behalf of the COAS.

While the country was indeed feeling jubilant at the trophy win and the cricket team was showered with accolades, it is unclear as to why the COAS should feel the need to extend the offer of Umra for the cricket team. Presumably the offer is extended through using public resources available to the COAS leading one to question whether it is the best utilization of the same in this regard. Given that the offer was made by the COAS to the national cricket team and not a military-affiliated team makes it further confusing.

Beyond congratulations, it may have been more appropriate for Pakistan's elected Government to honour the cricket team even though that has also been challenged in the Court of Law. [25] PILDAT has long maintained that in keeping with international financial and budgetary best practices, Pakistan must put an end to discretionary funds and block allocations in our national and provincial budgets. The need for a more stringent, transparent and efficient use of public resources is a critical requirement for Pakistan.

 

Kashmir and Balochistan??

With Pakistan Cricket Team winning the ICC Champions Trophy on June 18, the DG ISPR issued two peculiar tweets. One tweet posted pictures depicting large public screen in Balochistan telecasting the match and scenes of jubilation following the win with the caption "And this is Our Baluchistan. "To whom it may concern". Lay off!" [26] The other tweet carried a video of celebrations captioned as "And this is.........Srinagar!!" [27]

The tweets are peculiar as these touch upon many sensitive national and foreign policy issues that may not make official ISPR twitter account as the best platform. The tweets seem to draw a parallel that Pakistan has diplomatically fought hard to fend-off. To somehow give the impression that the two regions are at all similar is irresponsible to say the least. The official foreign policy perspectives of any nation are carefully prepared and calibrated and therefore require to be officially presented. In matters of such sensitive nature, it is best that only the relevant official channels responsible for sharing Pakistan's official perspectives are used.

 

Controversy Surrounding Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif as Head of the Islamic Military Coalition

The controversy surrounding Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif's joining as Head of the Islamic Military Coalition to Fight Terrorism has continued unabated.

Speaking in the Senate responding to a Calling Attention Notice on June 02, 2017, Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, maintained that former Chief of Army Staff, General (Retd.) Raheel Sharif's role as head of the Islamic Military Coalition to Fight Terrorism would not have any bearing on the basic position or foreign policy of Pakistan, the guidelines of which are still based on the April 10, 2015 resolution of the Parliament according to which Pakistan would maintain a balanced position on regional conflicts.[28]

Mr. Aziz also told the House that the Terms of Reference of the Islamic Military Alliance are yet to be finalized and would be presented before the Parliament once they are finalized. [29]However, Mr. Aziz acknowledged that the Riyadh Conference of May 2017 had widened the sectarian divide.[30]

In an in-camera briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on June 21, 2017, Mr. Aziz is reported to have shared that Gen. (Retd.) Raheel Sharif cannot be called back to Pakistan because he was not deputed by the Government of Pakistan and that he joined the Islamic Military Coalition to Fight Terrorism in his personal capacity. [31]

 

Welcome Increase in Periodicity of the National Security Committee Meeting

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Prime Minister of Pakistan Chairing the meeting of the NSC on June 07, 2017

In a welcome development, the National Security Committee meeting on June 07, 2017 took place within a week of the previous meeting held on May 31, 2017.

The NSC was established with a National Security Secretariat to assist its functioning by the PML-N Government in August 2013. Since its formation, the NSC has met for 8 times since its establishment 3 years and 9 months ago.

PILDAT has continued to advocate for monthly, if not weekly, meetings of the NSC, in keeping with international standards of similar bodies. The NSC is not just required to meet as Pakistan has a host of national security issues to deal with. The NSC is also important as it provides a forum for consultation between elected Government and the Security officials.

Table 1: Meetings of the National Security Committee

No.

Meetings of the NSC

Intervening Period between NSC Meetings

1

August 22, 2013

2.

December 17, 2013

3 months, 26 days

3.

April 17, 2014

4 months

4.

October 16, 2014

5 months 29 days

5.

April 06, 2016

1 year 6 months

6.

July 22, 2016

2 months, 16 days

7.

May 31, 2017

10 months

8.

June 07, 2017

6 days


Premier-COAS Interactions

In the month of June, Prime Minister of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff met once during the meeting of the National Security Committee on June 07, 2017. [32]

The meeting was attended by the Federal Minister for Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, MNA, who is also a member of the NSC. The Federal Minister of Defence has been conspicuous by his absence in 9 interactions that have taken place between Premier and COAS Gen. Bajwa from December 2016 to June 2017.


International Developments Affecting Civil Military Relations Around the World

Martial Law Imposed by President of Philippines to quell Islamic Militant Siege in Marawi

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Demonstrations against the declaration of martial law in Davao city, Mindanao island, southern Philippines

The President of Philippines, Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, imposed martial law in the island of Mindanao on May 23, 2017 reportedly following violence perpetrated by the militants linked to the Islamic State that involved beheading the chief of police of Malabang. [33]

The martial law has been imposed for sixty days and the reported reason for it was to contain the terrorist threat in the area, particularly in the southern city of Marawi that is under siege by the militants. [34]President Duterte has said that he will keep the martial law for a year, if necessary, and will 'not rule out placing the entire country under martial law if the threat of Islamic State spreads.'[35] President Duterte has been criticized by some in the Philippines for declaring martial law, seeing it as an 'over reaction.' [36]

 

References

 


[1] 'IB, three other bodies hampering probe, says JIT,' Dawn, can be accessed at:
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=14_06_2017_001_004

[2] ibid.

[3] 'When IB men became private spies,' Dawn, can be accessed at:
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=20_06_2017_001_005

[4] 'JIT accused of tapping phones of witnesses,' Dawn, can be accessed at:
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=17_06_2017_001_002

[5] 'Defiant PM looks to next election for vindication,' Dawn, can be accesed at
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=16_06_2017_001_005

[6] The ISPR Press Release can be accessed at:
https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&cat=army&date=2017/6/30

[7] The ISPR Press Release can be accessed at:
https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&cat=army&date=2017/6/14

[8] 'Drone kills Haqqani group commander,' Dawn, can be accessed at:
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=14_06_2017_001_002

[9] The ISPR Press Release can be accessed at:
https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&cat=army&date=2017/6/14

[10] A Tweet by TOLO news stated, ' NDS claims that today's blast in Kabul was planned by Haqqani network in Pakistan with the direct help of Pakistan's intelligence agency (ISI).' The Tweet can be accessed at:
https://twitter.com/TOLOnews/status/869953848814821377

[11] The blasts took place on June 03, 2017, news report can be accessed at:
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=04_06_2017_001_002

[12] The Press Release by the Prime Minister Office can be accessed at:
http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=1821

[13] ibid.

[14] The ISPR Press Release can be accessed at:
https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&cat=army&date=2017/6/6

[15] ibid.

[16] ibid.

[17] 'View from the courtroom Davis book brings to light misuse of Qiyas and Diyat law,' Dawn, can be accessed at:
https://www.dawn.com/news/1342906/view-from-the-courtroom-davis-book-brings-to-light-misuse-of-qisas-and-diyat-law

[18] ibid.

[19] 'Imran urges Pakistanis to read Davis' Book,' Dawn, can be accessed at:
https://www.dawn.com/news/1342710/imran-urges-pakistanis-to-read-davis-book

[20] 'Shahbaz claims Davis book proves he was right,' Dawn, can be accessed at:
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=03_07_2017_014_004

[21] ibid.

[22] The ISPR Press Release can be accessed at:
https://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o=t-press_release&cat=army&date=2017/6/20

[23] ibid.

[24] The text of the Tweet stated: 'COAS congrats Team Pakistan & nation. Announces Umrah for team.' The Tweet may be accessed at:
https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/876468301811011585

[25] For details, please see Court reserves ruling over PM's cash reward to Pakistan cricket team:
https://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/2017/07/court-reserves-ruling-over-pms-cash-reward-to-pakistan-cricket-team/

[26] The tweet can be accessed at:
https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/876505452892233729

[27] The tweet can be accessed at:
https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/876513193975140352

[28] The Senate Hansard can be accessed at:
http://www.senate.gov.pk/uploads/documents/debates/1496385401_948.pdf

[29] ibid.

[30] ibid.

[31] http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=22_06_2017_001_002

[32] The Press Release of the Prime Minister Office can be accessed at:
http://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=1821

[33] 'Duterte imposes martial law in Philippines after Islamist militant go on rampage, 'beheading local police chief' and taking priest hostage,' Telegraph, can be accessed at:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/24/duterte-imposes-martial-law-philippines-islamist-militants-go/

[34] ibid.

[35] ibid.

[36] ibid.