Pak Army Officers Advised To Read Book On Indian Democracy

Chief of Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa recently asked his top officers to read a book on India’s success in keeping the military out of politics.
General Bajwa said that the book, written by an American academician, will help the Army personnel realise why it is important for the military to stay out of governance. He made the comment while speaking at a gathering of senior Army officers in Rawalpindi. The Pak Army chief also said that the civilian-military imbalance is a sensitive issue in his country which has been ruled by the powerful Army for many years.
In his book “Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence”, senior professor of Political Science and International Relations at Yale University Steven I Wilkinson focused mainly on Indian Army’s relationship with the civilian government in New Delhi since Independence (1947). It also provides details of changes made in the structure and recruitment pattern of Indian Army to suit the democracy in the South Asian country. General Bajwa expressed hope that Wilkinson’s book would help the Pak Army officers know about the importance of civil-military balance in a democratic country.
From his unusual piece of advice to top officers, it is evident that General Bajwa has a different plan for his forces. Although his predecessors had tried to influence the civilian government in Islamabad, the current Pak Army chief has no such plans. He made clear that the Army should have “no business” in the decision-making process. The Army chief once again urged his officers to follow the example set by neighbouring India that has successfully kept its Armed Forces out of politics. ‘The Nation’ daily quoted General Bajwa as saying: “The Army has no business trying to run the government. The Army must remain within its constitutionally defined role.”
Meanwhile, Pakistani (as well as Indian) defence experts have described General Bajwa’s comments as a major shift in the Army’s stance on its relationship with the elected government. According to experts, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government should appreciate General Bajwa’s view on the Army’s role in a democratic country. Prime Minister Sharif had an uneasy relationship with former Army Chief General (Retired) Raheel Sharif who used to communicate to his officers in unequivocal terms. However, his successor Bajwa highlighted the importance of co-operation (and not competition) between Army and the civilian government.
General Bajwa is of the opinion that the age-old competition between the civilian government and Armed Forces has been counter-productive for Pakistan. He explained that it ultimately helped (Pakistan’s) “enemies” showcase the country as a ‘military nation’. Since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has spent 33 year (1958-71, 1977-88, 1999-2008) under military rule. Although the last period of direct military government ended in 2008, the Armed Forces have enjoyed considerable power and influence in the country.
General Bajwa’s former Commanding Officer on the LoC (Line of Control) Brigadier (Retired) Feroz Hassan Khan recalled that the Pak Army chief had a habit to read books and articles on India. “The man in what is usually seen as the most powerful position in Pakistan also does not have a visceral hatred of India,” said his former colleague while shedding light on the hidden side of General Bajwa.

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