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.

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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.

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