This article was published in Dawn on November 29, 2015 and is available at the following link
A RECENT ISPR press release alluding to poor governance by federal and provincial governments, and the rejoinder by the Prime Minister’s Office, once again underscored the urgent need for formal institutions of the state where diverse, and sometimes competing, views on national security can be discussed among various stakeholders.
There is no question that a public statement by the ISPR on governance by the elected government is undesirable. One should, however, try to look for the underlying causes.
The PM and COAS have met over 70 times in the past 27 months. It is certainly not lack of communication which contributed to this public expression of dissatisfaction. It appears to be a preference for informal, unstructured and un-institutionalised interaction, without any reliable mechanism for follow-up on decisions, which has prompted the move. After all, the prime minister and the army chief had a detailed meeting along with their respective aides just a day before the press release. It seems, however, that the meeting has not been helpful in effectively communicating each side’s point of view to the other and some degree of frustration is evident in the statement.
Likewise the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office indicates that the political leadership has not been able to make the military leadership understand the limitations of the civil, political and democratic processes, which, at times, are in stark contrast to the military style of working.
A formal mechanism is needed for a civil-military exchange of views.