Sharif Vs Sharif: Pakistan Military Wrests Control Over Government – Analysis


By Jai Kumar Verma*

A few days ago, General Raheel Sharif summoned the whole Pakistani cabinet to the Army Headquarters Rawalpindi to discuss foreign policy as well as security of the country. However, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the interior minister was not present in the meeting which indicates that the internal security issues were not significant and that the summoning of the politically chosen Cabinet was to discuss external issues. Nonetheless, even if external issues had to be discussed, the Cabinet meeting could have been held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad.

The analysts mention that General Sharif called the Cabinet meeting in Army Headquarters with the ulterior motive to show the civilian government, public of Pakistan and world at large that the real power continues to lie with the Army, and more specifically, with him.

In the cabinet meeting, the Army chief gave a strident message to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif that the Army is unhappy over Pakistan’s relations with India, Afghanistan, Iran, and most importantly, the United States. Army bosses made it clear that they are dejected over the growing clout of India in the world arena while Pakistan is totally sidelined, and which is the failure of Pakistani foreign policy.

Appointment of Lieutenant General (Retd) Naseer Khan Janjua as the National Security Advisor in place of Sartaz Aziz in October 2015 was also a clear message that Pakistani army has clipped the wings of civilian government.

General Sharif’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran in January with Prime Minister Sharif also made it obvious that Army does not trust civilian government and the latter is not empowered to take independent decisions of strategic importance.

When Nawaz Sharif took the oath of Prime Minister on June 5, 2013, he told his close confidantes that he will curtail the role of the Army and will ascertain the supremacy of civilian government. It was for this reason that he appointed General Raheel Sharif, a mediocre, as 15th Chief of Army Staff of Pakistani Army after sidelining two capable generals.

General Sharif who was close to Pervez Musharraf soon started diluting the authority of civilian government headed by Nawaz in internal as well as foreign affairs. He also made it clear that no action should be taken against his mentor, Gen. Musharraf.

Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and a religious cleric Tahirul Qadri launched a five month long agitation in 2014 against the Prime Minister on behest of the military-controlled Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with the sole intention of diluting the authority of civilian government. The agitators who were demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister weakened the civilian government, particularly Nawaz Sharif. The agitation ended after interference from the Army, but in the process, the civilian government lost credibility and potency.

Nawaz came to power by announcing that his government would foster friendly relations with India, but the Pakistani army which survives on anti-India rhetoric, did not permit Nawaz to have cordial relations with India. The terrorists trained by rogue ISI attacked Pathankot Air Force Station to fizzle out Foreign Secretary level talks and all the efforts that were being made at the highest echelons to try and usher in an era of cordiality between the two warring nations.

Indian security forces made a foolproof case against Pakistani involvement in terrorist attack on Pathankot Airbase. And thus in retaliation, the ISI arrested Kulbhushan Jadev with malicious intention and alleged that he was Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) agent and was helping the separatists in Balochistan. In this way, the creepy intelligence agency of Pakistan has blocked the way to cultivation of amiable relations between India and Pakistan.

General Sharif who does not have much knowledge of diplomatic norms forced Afghan Presi­dent Ashraf Ghani to meet him at Pakistani army headquarters in November 2014 when Ghani was on a state visit to Pakistan. Visit of head of State of any country to Army Headquarters is unusual, but General Sharif wanted to make it abundantly clear that Pakistani policy towards Afghanistan would be decided by him and not by the civilian government.

Pakistani military has not only taken control of foreign policy towards important countries like India, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran etc., but has also sidetracked civilian government on important domestic issues. Pakistani military started operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists without seeking permission from the civilian government.

Pakistani army is also taking stringent actions in Balochistan and in the capital of the province of Sindh, Karachi where the ‘suspected’ culprits are eliminated in fake encounters. The civilian government, it seems, is kept from making decisions in matters related to internal security, which however, are ostensibly meant to be its prerogative.

General Sharif dismissed 11 military officers, including a Lieutenant General on charges of corruption. Analysts mention that it is unprecedented, as corruption is rampant in Pakistani army, but that the Army Chief did it only with the intention of sending out a signal to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whose family’s name has surfaced in the infamous Panama leak case. Although Nawaz categorically mentioned that his children are businesspersons and not involved in any wrongdoing, but his position has been weakened considerably in the eyes of the general public who expressed their admiration and support for the move made by the General in trying to weed out corruption from the military structures.

Army has virtually finished the importance of civilian government through Provincial Apex Committees (PACs) which includes local politicians, army top brass, including ISI representatives. In the meetings of PACs, all important decisions are taken by the Army. It is believed that the presence of the civilian representatives within these committees is only for show and that they are there to merely give some political concurrence to the decisions that are taken solely by the Army.

The Pakistani army has not allowed Nawaz to fulfill his pre-election promises, especially peaceful negotiations with Taliban, cordial relations with India and legal action against Musharraf.

Army, which knows well that Kashmir issue cannot be solved early, made it the most prominent issue with India. Secondly, although the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference have no following in the Valley, the Pakistani High Commissioner in India, Abdul Basit on instructions from army, projects them as the real representative of Kashmir- which is a farce.

General Sharif who is a hawk and lost his elder brother in 1971 war with India will never allow Pakistan to have cordial relations with India. General Sharif has successfully generated an atmosphere which is disposed against the civilian government and weakened it so much that even if army takes over there will be no resentment. But analysts feel that there is no need for army to take over as army is controlling the civilian government. Army has put restrictions on media, civil rights are violated, and army has started its own courts to try terrorists.

General Sharif has slowly but steadily reduced Nawaz government into a lame-duck government. The military has weakened the civilian government not only in matters related to the internal security of the country, but it has also managed to wrest concerns related to foreign policy especially vis-à-vis some important countries with it. Civilian government was not allowed to cultivate cordial relations with India and all efforts made by the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, have been sabotaged to a great extent. In fact, political leaders were compelled to regurgitate the military stance against India, and which is that of persisting animosity. The strength of the civilian government has been curtailed to the extent that it cannot even take independent decisions on trade, energy, economic cooperation; what to say about terrorism, cross-border terrorism, etc.

*Jai Kumar Verma is an independent analyst on Indian security concerns. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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8 thoughts on “Sharif Vs Sharif: Pakistan Military Wrests Control Over Government – Analysis

  • July 3, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    The analysis of Mr. Jai Kumar Verna is simply an analysis of an extremist Indian.
    I won’t treat it as a fair analysis. He seems a biased journalist. He has his right to write his views but it’s better to be fair while writing it as an analyst.

  • July 3, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    An india joutnalist can fo only one thing and that is to do a false propoganda…Reason for meeting in GHQ was very simple that from last meeting in civilian office there was some information leak. Know if army chief want to discuss what india is planning to destablise pakistan and CPEC he need a secure place and need to show some facts which he can do only at a safe place without disturbing normal people life by going into some civilian office…

  • July 3, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    To Pakistani army and their surrogates, truth hurts.

    India and Pakistan officials could be talking business at the behest of Modi’s initiative who visited Nawaz Sharif in Rawalpindi and agreed to restart the “talking” process. But “nay”, the Pakistani Army was not in the loop. They sabotaged the process by attacking Indian base at Pathankote, sending a clear message that it is army which ruled not the civilian prime minister. Truthfully Pakistani army has been bread on American dollars and Chinese missiles and nuclear bombs. The Army, in a $9 billion budget (600,000 strong) is basically on a starvation diet of money, guns, ammunition, fuel, salaries and pension and any other day to day expenses. It is $2 billion a year from US which keeps them going. Still a bit of shot in the arm but still on a starvation diet. So really it is paper tiger army. It is the Chinese aided nuclear bombs and missile which gives them a bit more shot in the arm. But no Chinese aid or support is free. Sooner than later, they will ask for money back. Pakistani will be running back to their benefactor – US for deliverance. That is what Pakistani army is all about.

  • July 4, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Worthless article, waste of time! Army Chief General Raheel Shareef should be promoted to Field Marshal Rank in honor of winning war against terrorism ALHUMDULILLAH and able to crush Indian funded spies, ALHUMDULILLAH we can identify our friends and enemies.

  • July 4, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    … it seems Bhaarat has come to a dead end in subverting Pakistani polity … and has lostcquite a lot of ‘Assets’ and ‘Investment’ … So, this eulogy of dead Bharati Programme ???

  • July 7, 2016 at 9:46 am

    It appears that the response of the Pakistani writers were either written by ISI or by their lackeys. There are no arguments on facts and therefore do not qualify as ”comment”, never mind a fair one. However, the greater tragedy is that the Pakistani people have no power to save Pakistan from the mediocre Army’s self-destructive policies in a country with so much human talent.

  • July 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Nawaz Sharif maybe pro india, however he is corrupt & has billions of $ of Pakistan’s money to foriegn countries, The writer has no idea what he is talking about

  • July 24, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    So an INDIAN writing an Article on the political affairs of Pakistan, Oh the irony! Pakistan Army has the support of the people, i understand the PML N won the elections but everyone is always behind Pakistan Army. We dont care what an Indian writes and misinforms the masses of. Eurasia use to be a reliable source of information however with anti Pakistan propaganda by a Hindu extremist who cant control his own country its quite saddening theres nothing actionable written which could restore Pak muslim and hindu india ties. We could start with the liberation of Muslim Kashmir state and then possibly resume ties, afterall its RAW agents which are creepy not the other way round!


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