As India’s Army Chief General VK Singh walks out after years of service that ended up with an age row causing serious damages to his integrity, there is political chaos in our neighborhood that has always lived under the fear of military coup of his democratic government. The world is keenly watching over the developments in Pakistan, wondering if history will be repeated as rumors spread of another military coup in the making under Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan army, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Indian army chief had made this quite clear that it’s not for an extra year in office but for his honor and dignity that he is fighting. At the end of this prolonged battle between the government and the army chief which in fact has affected the morale of the army itself, it has learned that there is some kind of a compromise formula on the horizon as the General said that he has not though of taking recourse to legal action yet.
The history of Independent Pakistan has seen many military coups and the country has been under military rule for several decades – during 958 – 1971, 1977 – 1988, 1999 – 2008.
It was in 1958 the first military coup that rocked the Pakistani politics when its Pakistani President Major General Iskander Mirza decided to dismiss the country’s Constituent Assembly and the government of Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon. He appointed army commander-in-chief General Ayub Khan as the Chief martial law administrator who after thirteen years disposed Mirza and appointed himself President.
The latest of military overthrow was in the year of 1999 and this famous coup which is much familiar to the modern world was orchestrated the then army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf who foiled Sharif’s attempt to dismiss him after his return from Sri Lanka managed to rule the Muslim State from 1999 to 2008.
While the question of power can only seen in different contexts in India and Pakistan, unlike its arch rival, the India military has been kept under solid civilian control. On the other hand, Pakistan had always veered towards an authoritarian style of rule and thus paved way for decades of military rule in the country. Despite the fact that the country failed to protect its civilian interests by having a strong government elected by the people, it should be noted that armed forces are the only effective and successful modern institution in Pakistan as everything else – the police force, the government, the judiciary, the civil service etc – proved failures over the years.
Kayani, who was trained in different military schools in the United States, became the first ever ISI chief to become the army chief of the country in 2007. Called the soldier’s soldier, Kayani’s apolitical and professional image often makes him the invisible centre-of-gravity. He turned down President Zardari’s proposal to sent ISI Chief to India to initiate talks after the 26/11 and there are many similar incidents to be cited to show his supremacy over the political class in Pakistan. While the power of army chief is can be said unlimited in Pakistan, the system continues to survive in its own peril.
- Zardari meets Pak army chief (thehimalayantimes.com)
- No assurances against military coup in Pak: US (ibnlive.in.com)
- Coup fears resurface as Pak army, Govt rift widens (ibnlive.in.com)
- Pak PM Gilani talks up harmony with army – Times of India (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)