Pakistan’s ex-army chief General Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi military alliance

8 January 2017; Siegfried O. Wolf

Interview/Quotation with Deutsche Welle, conducted by Shamil Shams:

Pakistan’s former army chief Raheel Sharif has been appointed to head a Saudi-led military coalition. Analysts say this could jeopardize Pakistan’s ties with Iran as the 39-member alliance is heavily involved in Yemen. Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has confirmed that General Raheel Sharif is to command the 39-member Islamic Military Alliance. The alliance was formed by Saudi Arabia to deal with conflicts in the Middle East, particularly to quell the Iran-backed Houthi insurgency in Yemen. Continue reading “Pakistan’s ex-army chief General Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi military alliance”

Pakistan – Friend or Foe?

23 June 2016; Siegfried O. Wolf

The controversial German constitutional lawyer and political theorist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) in his well-known work ‘The Concept of the Political’ promotes a clear distinction between “the friend” and the “foe”. This radical premise of a ‘friend-foe relationship is supposed to be the basis of all ‘political’ and should be applicable to all political actors. In other words, “whoever is not for us, is against us”. Continue reading “Pakistan – Friend or Foe?”

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan

20 April 2016

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The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment project, is heralded as a ‘game changer’ for Pakistan’s economy and regional cooperation. Being a crucial part of a major development initiative led by China, known as ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), to connect Asia with Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the CPEC is much linked to hopes, interests, as well as regional and global geopolitics. However, such a mega project never comes without challenges and critical questions. Besides the puzzle of the feasibility of its implementation, or potential impacts on the regional cooperation, it seems that the CPEC development has severe negative impacts on the country’s traditional unhealthy civil-military relations.

Continue reading “The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan”

Formal Institutionalization of Military Rule: The 21st Amendment in Pakistan

14 May 2015; by Siegfried O. Wolf

Source: Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU), Durham University, U.K.

Source: PRSU

The first ‘regular’ transfer of power between two civilian governments in Pakistan manifested itself in the aftermath of the 2013 general elections. Many celebrated this shift as a positive sign of democratic consolidation. However, the appreciation of this allegedly ‘new democratic wave’ ignores the resilience of decade-old authoritarian, and anti-democratic patterns. The military still dominates all significant political decision-making processes. Furthermore, with the 21st constitutional amendment the soldiers were able to further entrench their formal role in the political-institutional setup. This seriously challenges the notions of civilian supremacy, which is unfortunate, since civilian control of the armed forces is a necessary constituent for democracy and democratic consolidation. The first ‘regular’ transfer of power between two civilian governments in Pakistan manifested itself in the aftermath of the 2013 general elections. Many celebrated this shift as a positive sign of democratic consolidation. However, the appreciation of this allegedly ‘new democratic wave’ ignores the resilience of decade-old authoritarian, and anti-democratic patterns. The military still dominates all significant political decision-making processes. Furthermore, with the 21st constitutional amendment the soldiers were able to further entrench their formal role in the political-institutional setup. This seriously challenges the notions of civilian supremacy, which is unfortunate, since civilian control of the armed forces is a necessary constituent for democracy and democratic consolidation.

Continue reading “Formal Institutionalization of Military Rule: The 21st Amendment in Pakistan”

Pakistan: Between Coup and Constitutional Engineering

15 January 2015; by Siegfried O. Wolf

Pakistan started the New Year 2015 with another unfortunate episode in its truncated political history. One could once again hear the momentous military rhetoric of the “doctrine of necessity” in order to justify direct intervention into the country’s politics, to establish formal prerogatives and an institutionally ensured role for the military. On January 6, the National Assembly and the Senate approved the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill and Pakistan Army Act 1952 (Amendment) Bill 2015, unopposed.

Continue reading “Pakistan: Between Coup and Constitutional Engineering”

Pakistan: Ending the Semblance of Civil-Military Cordiality?

13 November 2014

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Pakistan, which has been ruled by military forces for around half of its existence, is considered to be a classic example of a praetorian state. The country’s military perceives itself as the sole guardian of national sovereignty and moral integrity, the chief initiator of the national agenda and the major arbiter of conflict between social and political forces. Over time, the armed forces became so deeply and widely entrenched in every sphere of the Pakistani state that, today, they do not depend on any formal prerogatives to exercise influence over the political decision-making process or to secure their corporate interests.  It can be stated that Pakistan has never experienced ‘civilian supremacy’ with regards to its civil-military relations. Continue reading “Pakistan: Ending the Semblance of Civil-Military Cordiality?”