Let’s Talk Civil-Military, NOW!

This article appeared in Daily Times on Monday January 30, 2012 as my weekly column BAAGHI

Atiqa Odho needs to change her name. Not only her name but also the prefix if she wants to avoid further humiliation that she possibly could not and would not want, just because she is a woman and does not bear the right prefix before her name. Brigadier Zafar Iqbal had both — the right name and the right prefix.

The good brigadier embarked on a PIA flight from Karachi to Lahore on Saturday night, intoxicated with the ‘sherbet’. The captain of the plane handed him over to the Airport Security Force (ASF) after the brigadier publicly harassed one of the female crew members. The ASF, obviously, could not hold him for more than a few minutes when they discovered the full name of the detainee. No wonder the news item merited just a few lines in Sunday newspapers. I am still waiting for the ‘suo motu’ and media-panic that we saw in Atiqa Odho’s case. Pertinent to remind here, Ms Odho was neither drunk nor did she harass anyone on the flight.

This points to two serious maladies of this society: one, a strong gender bias that women of this country have to endure everywhere, including the courts; and two, unjust and unfair partiality that society confers on the military. It is not only about an overly powerful military but also about an extremely weak civil society. It would be naïve to believe that civil society in Pakistan is powerful enough to foil any attempt to usurp power from the civilian entities. This is mainly because the military here never departed from power. Irrespective of who occupied the buildings of the Prime Minister Secretariat and the Presidency, the military always ruled in the country through its incontrovertible influence over political decision-making and social phenomena.

The way things happen in the court, and outside of it, memo scandal is a case in point. In the memo scandal, Husain Haqqani was treated as an accused by the media and society at large because the military thought so. Everything else had to be in sync with what the military wanted or at least, was perceived to be wanting. The same ‘evidence’ (the BBM conversations claimed by Mansoor Ijaz that took place between him and Husain Haqqani) implicated the head of the ISI who was accused in the same BBM conversations to have spoken to the leaders of some Arab states and gotten their consent to sack the present government. But no one from the media, politicians (even the ones who portray themselves as most committed to civilian supremacy) and the judiciary could ever point a finger towards General Pasha, the accused. Husain Haqqani was an easy target because he was not a general. Or even a brigadier.

Later, the chief of army staff and the head of ISI submitted their affidavits in clear departure of the government’s point of view — the same government that both of them are accountable to. The prime minister was openly criticised by everyone for calling this action of the two generals as unconstitutional. So much so that the media wing of the Pakistan Army, the ISPR, attacked the prime minister — their boss — by issuing a strongly worded statement warning the government of grave consequences and serious ramifications. So there were two statements, one by the chief executive of a country castigating his subordinate generals for unconstitutional actions, and the other from the subordinate generals threatening their boss with grave consequences. Guess who had to retract the statement? You got it right, it was the boss. The Islamic Republic is unique in its construction.

What can be more worrying for a people whose representative is humiliated by an agency that should be subordinate to the people. The agency, it is more perturbing, does so with popular consent. The absence of popular outrage amounts to consent if one could decrypt public reactions. We can go on endlessly criticising hungry-for-power generals, selfish politicians, corporate media and an ambitious judiciary, but what remains a fact is Pakistani society’s utter failure — rather refusal — to grow from a Praetorian state to even a half decent egalitarian democracy.

Samuel Huntington in his seminary work on civil-military relations identifies Praetorianism as a key factor in the relationship between a weak civil society and a strong military. In a Praetorian society, the institutions remain weak, giving way to social groups to act independently in order to achieve their political goals. In such situations, any institution having control over the instruments of force, wields power. In Pakistan, the army is the prime institution that acquires power — military and political — through such control. The terrorist organisations, religious parties and their sectarian brethren are only second to the military in being allowed to exercise control over the instruments of force. This open allowance is possible when political institutions are at their lowest strength.

Those responsible for building and fostering political institutions, thus, are either eliminated by the powerful institutions or get co-opted by them. In Pakistan, this phenomenon has resulted in an ultimate breakdown of political institutions. This civilian breakdown has been largely used by the powerful and institutionalised military on the pretext of ‘filling the vacuum’. Little does our ‘concerned’ army realise that attempting to fill the vacuum with even more mediocrity would not only impair civilian capability but also the military’s own professionalism. What the military relies on while attempting the country’s governance is its institutional strength. This strength comes from, to borrow from Huntington again, the military leadership’s generational character that enables its adaptability, the organisational complexity achieved through its hierarchical structure, its de facto autonomy and the coherence among its various sub-systems. This largely mechanical superiority that the military enjoys over a fragmented and disunited civilian society keeps the military under the impression that it can replace a political agency, or at least keep the civilian political organisation under its strong influence for making things work.

This has miserably failed not only in political governance but also in keeping up the military’s own professionalism. A professional soldier should hardly have an inclination of retorting against the authority he works under, with threats of grave consequences. When the prime minister of a country has to retract his statement and try to placate his own subordinates, this is a most telling situation not only about the chief executive, but also about the subordinate. That the military has little capacity to govern the country and has eroded its own professionalism are facts only to be disputed by someone naïve, going by the events of the last 10 years. If there was a time for civil society to start a meaningful dialogue with the military, it is now.

In such a backdrop, any attempt at starting a civil-military dialogue should be welcome, provided the dialogue is happening with the right people. The retired military officers who spent 35 years in planning wars and strategising military takeovers of the country cannot become ambassadors of peace and civilian supremacy overnight nor could they be taken as ‘interlocutors’ of such a dialogue. If a dialogue is to be, let it be among the people who represent alternative voices in civil society with a strong commitment to civilian supremacy, and those who call the shots in the power structure of the armed forces. A dialogue between a deer and a lion is no dialogue.


10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Civil-Military, NOW!

  1. MZI says:

    Many thanks for a brilliant article.
    While Marvi Sarmed has excellently shown the dichotomy of our politics, the blame while first on the ARMY is justified but in my opinion a GREATER BLAME falls upon our elected leaders.
    During the last few years their greed has climbed the highest mountains. These politicians have entered the world of excessive greed; rob, rob, rob as if there is no tomorrow.
    They have no scruples left. I have had the chance to spend a month in Lahore. As you know it is quite cold in December/ January, there was no electricity or GAS. There were occasions when a supply would come for two hours. For 4 days there was no gas supply in the house where I was staying.
    I can understand the shortage but it was restricted. Some areas where the big-wigs (I mean the politicians) were living there was no shortage!
    The poor can die while the attitude of “I am all right Jack” persists in these politicians. The Chief Minister has 4 wives and each house, along with official staff and Mercedes cars are maintained by the Punjab Government. He himself is a Billionaire in £-Sterling! What greed. He wants to screw 4 “official’ wives but cannot pay to maintain them. This is a poor country. Recently, Prime Ministers wife was in London. She came on a romp as spending spree. On her way back, she was legally entitled to a VAT (Value Added Tax) Refund. It is no scandal or propaganda, but the truth came from a very reliable source who too was disgusted at the amount spent by her. She received over £100,000.00 (Pak Rs 14,500,000.00) I heard it from the grapevine that there is a CONTRACTOR by the name of RIAZ MALIK who sits in PM’s residence along with Gillani’s son and does all the deals. The antics of Asif Ali Zardari or his sister Mrs Talpur are well known.
    The reason for mentioning a tiny elite – and there are hundreds others – was to explain one fact that Marvi Sarmed missed. Our social fabric has broken down to plunder, plunder and plunder whilst you are in power. There is no recourse to such thefts and lootings by the POLITICIANS. If there was any character, strong enough in these “soulless” people then the POLITICIANS could have stood with strength against the ARMY. The ARMY knows very well that the politicians are rogues of the worst kind and they do not have any leg to stand upon. They do not really have the support of the ordinary people for whom they have done nothing. Unless we have a meaningful social society of DECENT POLITICIANS we will continue to be in a mess. This problem can only be resolved once we have politicians who can challenge.
    I am afraid that this dichotomy will continue unless and until we have an electorate bereft of those who do not forge their degrees, those who stop making cuts on projects, stop taking money for awarding contracts!
    We need politicians who have a vision to plan for Pakistan’s future for the next 50 years. Have these politicians done anything at all to merit a line in the newspaper?
    I think Marvi Sarmed must balance her article and put the blame on the democratically elected politicians first. The Army will have to be subservient to the leaders of the parliament only if…..?


  2. MZI says:

    Please read this as well:

    State within a State in Pakistan

    By Usman Khalid, Chairman Rifah Party

    The Pakistan Army has been reviled as ‘State within a State’ in the Indian political folklore. Now the PM of Pakistan has joined them. A modern country has several power centres that compete or co-operate but none is considered a ‘State within the State’. The intelligence organisations do operate as if they were a ‘state within the state’ but this is deliberate – to underpin ‘deniability’. But political persons and parties in Pakistan are allowed to have contacts with foreign embassies and intelligence organisations which allow them to operate as Mafias to promote or protect foreign interests. The state often does have intelligence but not evidence of their treasonous conduct. Pakistan failed to stop the subversion and later invasion of East Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib was apprehended and indicted for Agartalla Conspiracy but was released in consequence of massive internal pressure. It is apparent that treasonous politicians can undermine the entire edifice of the state. What does the state do in such a situation? Pakistan is once again faced with the top leadership of Pakistan acting as ‘state within the state’ to serve foreign interests.

    The statements of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani provide much fun and amusement in entertainment starved Pakistan. His being thick skinned impervious to ridicule and even public disclosure of serious corruption may well be good for him. Despite being condemned as the most corrupt and inept government in the history of Pakistan, there is no countrywide political movement on the lines of Arab spring. Mr Gilani has never been taken seriously as the Chief Executive; his fall has always appeared imminent; he is the ever ready ‘fall guy’ if one was needed to take the flak for his boss – President Asif Ali Zardari. However, in the last three months the Zardari-Gilani Administration has become embroiled in something much more serious – a case of alleged treachery known commonly as the ‘Memo-gate’.

    The ‘Memo-gate’ conspiracy came to light through an article of 20 October 2011 in the FT of London written by Mansoor Ijaz – a US citizen of Pakistani descent. He revealed that he had written a Memorandum to Admiral Mullen, the then Chief of Joint Staff of the USA, conveying an offer by President Asif Zardari to replace the present ‘national security team’ in Pakistan with persons acceptable to the USA who would yield to US pressure on issues like nuclear assets of Pakistan and the conduct of war in Af-pak. Admiral Mullen at first ‘did not remember’ having received the Memo but later did recall having seen it but said that it was ignored. The link between President Asif Zardari and Mansoor Ijaz was Hussain Haqqani – Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington DC. Mansoor Ijaz released a number of Balckberry messages etc between himself and Ambassador Haqqani that confirmed that the contents of the Memo were dictated by Ambassador Hussain Haqqani.

    The revelation in the FT created uproar in Pakistan forcing the Government to recall Ambassador Haqqani and ask him to resign to permit an ‘impartial inquiry’. But the Prime Minister began to backtrack almost immediately saying that the Memo was merely a ‘piece of paper’. The resolve for ‘impartial’ inquiry turned out to be bogus as Hussain Haqqani has been lodged as an honoured guest first in the Presidency and later the PM House. The PM ordered an inquiry by the National Security Committee of the Parliament in which the PPP and its coalition partners are in majority. The opposition, alarmed by the Government efforts to preclude a proper inquiry, took the matter to the Supreme Court (SC). The SC asked for written sworn statements by, among others, the COAS, the DG ISI and the Defence Secretary. The Prime Minister was alarmed when the Defence Secretary refused to change the ‘sworn statement’ to the Supreme Court to fall in line with the PM’s public stand. The Prime Minister sacked the Defence Secretary and accused the Army leadership to be a ‘state within a state’ on the floor of the house. He went further in an interview with Beijing News Agency when he said that General Kayani (COAS) and General Pasha (DG ISI) had violated the law and the Constitution by not obtaining prior approval of the Government for the sworn statements they had sent to the Supreme Court. He, thus, accused the military leadership of misconduct. The reaction of the military was to call for the PM to withdraw his statement. He did that two weeks later but he has not reinstated Defence Secretary who has since presented his case to Islamabad High court.

    State within the State

    The PM continues to insist that his statements were the result of the ‘misconduct’ of the Defence Secretary who he has removed. The matter is before the Supreme Court who has appointed a Commission to find the facts about the origin and authorship of the ‘Memo’. The Commission comprising three Chief Justices of the Karachi, Peshawar and Baluchistan High Courts has received written statements from potential witnesses but Mansoor Ijaz has refused to appear before the court for security reasons as Interior Minister Rehman Malik threatened him with being charged for past offences against Pakistan. The Prime Minister made his own attitude clear saying that the assurances of security by the courts were meaningless because it was ‘he’ who was to appoint the Police Inspector in charge of the security of the witness. The Government evidently does not want Mansoor Ijaz to appear before the Commission because he is in possession of a number of cans of worms and no one can say which ones he would open. Even those eager to find the facts would rather have it done without undue reliance on the testimony of Mansoor Ijaz. It is becoming increasingly obvious that there is indeed a ‘State within the State’ in Pakistan at the heart of which is a gang of five which includes Zardari, Gilani, Farooki, Haqqani, and Rehman Malik. They are steadfastly maligning the judiciary and the armed forces who they see as prime obstacles in the pursuit of their agenda.

    There are several centres of power in a modern state which is founded on ‘rule of law’. The Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive are the three pillars of the state whose independence from each other is guaranteed by the Constitution. That provides the structure of ‘checks and balance’ which is the basis of ‘good governance’ in a democracy. The media is not a pillar of the state as such but its independence further underpins the independence of the judiciary as proved so often in the last five years in Pakistan. The operational independence of the military and the police is an additional prop for the robustness of the state. Both are indeed under the command of the Executive which gives them their ‘mission and objectives’ within the law but the military and the police also have statutory roles and responsibilities that the Executive cannot revoke, change or modify. Besides, all authority is subject to ‘due process’. Every official of the state – a civil or military officer to the Prime Minister – has specific powers and authority in order to maintain discipline and ensure team work. But all such authority is subject to rules and ‘due process’. The current Prime Minister does not appear to understand that. He thinks that a paper titled ‘summary’ becomes a legal document because it carries the signatures of a minister. That is not correct; all authority comes with responsibility. He and his ministers have a duty that they give only lawful orders and authorise legitimate expenditure. They are personally liable for failure to act within the law and in accordance with the rules.

    At this time, the intelligence agencies – particularly the ISI Directorate – appear to be in the dock accused of acting as a ‘state within the state’. The basis of the allegation is the large number of ‘disappeared persons’ who were taken into custody by intelligence agencies but were never charged of any crime. Some of them have since been found dead but most continue to be either held in unlawful custody or are believed to be members of unlawful militias. Their case has been taken up by the Supreme Court who called Intelligence officials to give evidence. In the face of claim of ‘no knowledge’ by intelligence agencies and the absence of evidence of their fate or whereabouts, the courts have been powerless to provide redress. It is widely believed that the state is complicit in disappearances. On the other hand, state officials – soldiers as well as civilians – have been killed in large numbers all over Pakistan by militias or mafias whose identity is common knowledge. Since most of the disappeared persons or extra-judicial deaths are of persons believed to belong to one or the other mafia or militia, it is evident that the intelligence agencies are violating the law. How do they get away with it year after year? This is an important question.

    The intelligence agencies have a statutory role. Their primary role is to collect intelligence about the internal and external enemies of Pakistan and their second role is ‘counter-intelligence’ which involves apprehending or liquidating enemy agents. In the first role the intelligence agencies recruit agents and pay them for obtaining information and engaging in wide variety of activities that are criminal or treasonous. Counter-intelligence entails apprehension of enemy agents. Those against whom adequate evidence to secure conviction can be obtained, are tried by civil or military courts. Those beyond the pail are often liquidated. The political control over intelligence agencies is often lax because of the nature of their work. Politicians who have administrative control wisely keep their distance from operational matters because much of intelligence work is itself criminal activity. All intelligence agencies keep their work secret not merely from the public but also from other government departments. Their method of operation is underlined by the vital need for ‘deniability’. While that explains why the ISI etc. are so quiet in the face of wide public criticism of unexplained deaths in Baluchistan it does excuse the government who have the responsibility to explain as well as to prevent such deaths. That notwithstanding, the ISI is not a ‘state within a state’ in Pakistan; it is perhaps overzealous in the performance of its statutory role.

    The Supreme Court of Pakistan is also about to hear a case of the then DG ISI (General Durrani) having distributed money among politicians and members of the press to secure the defeat of the PPP in 1992 Elections. I do not know if any law has been violated but it is certainly a victimless crime. The contributor of funds – Mehran Bank – did not complain nor did the recipients. But DG of ISI did commit professional misconduct by giving a signed statement with regards to a clandestine operation he was bound to keep secret. While acting as a ‘go between’ is at worst a misdemeanour, this is not something that can be or should be swept under the carpet. Now that it has come out that the ISI has been paying politicians, the issue of political persons and parties receiving funds from foreign – often hostile – sources should also be dealt with. The Army, particularly the ISI, have been used by Late Prime Minister Bhutto, his opponents as well as his successors to manipulate election results. The justification often given was, “If we cannot prevent money flowing to anti-state forces from the enemies of Pakistan we can at least help the patriotic forces”. Benazir Bhutto was widely reviled as a ‘security risk’ before the ‘funding fiasco’ now being looked into. The judicial review of the money distributed by General Durrani provides an opportunity to make unlawful not just payments by the ISI to politicians but also by the CIA, RAW and other foreign intelligence agencies to ANP, MQM, stalwarts of the PPP and to Sindhi, Seraiki and Baluch groups engaged in insurrection. The ISI does know all about the foreign links and funds received by many eminent politicians but it has done little to stop them or prosecute them. Is the law inadequate or the role of the counter-intelligence ill defined? The Supreme Court must look into both.


    Neither the disappearances in Baluchistan or elsewhere, nor the ISI trying to influence the result of elections in the past constitute a ‘State within the State’. At worst that was overzealousness in dealing with the enemies of the Pakistan. The case for ‘state within the state’ can be made only when an individuals or groups act against the interest or the law of the state. Since the intelligence agencies operate on the edges of law a case can be made against them for unlawful actions but not for being a state within a state. But a ‘state within the state’ does indeed exist in Pakistan. This comprises a coterie of top leaders – the gang of five. They relentlessly pursue the well-known agenda of the enemies of Pakistan i.e. economic collapse; ethnic, sectarian and inter-province strife; civil insurrection; international war; and balkanisation. Zardari-Gilani Administration may not have enough time to execute the entire enemy plan but in conjunction with the ANP and MQM they would continue their ‘work’ from the opposition benches of a fledgling democracy that Pakistan is.

    The present civil leadership in the country sees the USA and India as their natural allies. This Administration has always given priority to wishes of India and America over the wishes and interests of Pakistan, whether it is dispute over Kashmir, or river water flowing from Kashmir into Pakistan, MFN status to India, transit route to India for Afghanistan and beyond, and free access to Indian TV channels without reciprocation, Pakistan is always the one to acquiesce. The Railways, the national airlines the PIA, the Steel Mills, which used to make a profit, are all bankrupt. The economy is collapsing and the industry is closing down because of shortage of electricity and gas. The irony is that the country is not short of generation capacity or of gas; the shortages are entirely the result of appointment of saboteurs as heads of state enterprises, the policies, and theft and misappropriation of funds. Economic collapse of Pakistan, as the Indian politicians and pundits have been saying, is the cheapest method of securing a victory over Pakistan. That President Zardari knows what he is doing was revealed when he addressed the Baloch secessionist leaders and said ‘they were going about achieving their objective the wrong way; they should do what he was doing’. That explains what he (and his son Bilwal) mean when they say ‘democracy is the best revenge’. It is democracy that has brought Zardar-Gilani into power and it is democracy that sustains them in power despite having the support of less than 10% of the population.


    . After having failed to prevent the restoration of the judges dismissed by General Musharraf, President Zardari has focussed attention on defying and humiliating the Supreme Court. He has ignored the ruling by Lahore High Court that he cannot hold the office of the President and Party leader at the same time. Memo-gate reveals the attempt to impose such leadership on the military which is also unmindful of compulsions of national security and is willing to advance the Indo-US agenda. With the refusal of Mansoor Ijaz to appear as a witness, the work of the Commission to find facts has been side-lined. But the Supreme Court has already indicted the Prime Minister for ‘contempt of court’ in the NRO case for having defied its orders. It must assert its authority in the face of prolonged defiance of the SC over more than two years. The Prime Minister should be given a custodial sentence and barred from holding an elective office. The Supreme Court may also order early election – Option 6 in the NRO Case Judgement. Anything less would be a huge disappointment with uncertain consequences. The most probable result of failure to remove the Prime Minister and ordering early elections would be collapse of governance. ++


  3. MZI says:

    Terminally ill
    Posted By Zafar Hilaly On Jan 23, 2012 (11:27 PM) In Opinion
    A military coup d’état is often a cure that is worse than the disease, but not all ‘coups’ are bad. A coup de grace, for example, to finish off a dying animal or ending the life of someone with an incurable illness — a ‘mercy killing’, — though seemingly cruel, is actually a kind way of ending the agony caused by fatal injuries or a terminal malady. And that, metaphorically speaking, is the condition of the PPP regime today, as it struggles for survival from countless, mostly self-inflicted, wounds which are no longer treatable, hav ing turned gangrenous.
    Many, therefore, were counting on the Supreme Court to administer the coup de grace to this terminally-ill regime. It would have not only ended its misery but also the unbearable suffering its antics are causing us. In any case, the Court has sufficient legal reasons to take such a drastic step given the regime’s defiance of Supreme Court decisions and the lampooning to which the judiciary has been subjected to by the government’s legal eagles. Such antics were reason enough for the Court to act decisively.
    When, therefore, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani appeared in Court on January 19 many felt he would be headed for jail. In fact, he not only escaped being branded a contemner but cleverly took advantage of the occasion to treat his audience to what must have been quite an experience of having to listen to a soliloquy about the ‘high regard’ and ‘respect’ in which he held the Court. Actually, when the presiding judge, for some unaccountable reason, considering that Mr Gilani’s presence was mandatory felt moved to praise him for showing up in Court someone present swore he heard sounds of people retching. It seems that make-believe and pretences have become pillars of the state.
    And, so, the Zardari-Gilani regime, battered and bruised, but not quite dead yet, remains in office with Mr Amin Fahim babbling on about the government ‘completing its term,’ as if that’s all they were elected to do.
    Pakistan is going through an epidemic of uncertainty as the rest of the world watches stupefied, not knowing where it will finally lead and when it will end. As someone once said anyone who is not confused about what is happening in Pakistan doesn’t really understand what’s going on.
    And that also applies to the gaggle of Pakistani businessmen I met in Sri Lanka, the other day, eagerly waiting for the judicial axe to fall on this decrepit regime. Each one had his own story to tell of being shaken down by government goons while trying to run their businesses and to what dire straits they had been reduced by such errant practices. All of them also expressed their resolve not to invest at home and said they were scouring other countries for investment opportunities.
    One said he had just returned from Malaysia. Another claimed he was en route to Vietnam while a third had attended several meetings in Colombo looking for local partners. All waxed lyrical about respect for the law in these countries and for the officials with whom they had to deal. “Our system, on the other hand,” remarked their leader, “has made crooks out of a whole nation. Even in the worst of these countries officials do not demand a cut before the venture has begun. They wait till the goose starts laying her golden eggs and not ravage the nest at the outset.” Sadly, such talk is now the common thread of most conversations among Pakistani businessmen at home and abroad.
    I had initially felt that letting President Zardari complete his term would serve us right for electing him. Besides, a premature end to his regime would likely make him a hero. But there was a more selfish motive, namely, the fear that the freedom we have to criticise government and write and speak as freely as we do at present may all come to an end if democracy is harmed and yet another maximum leader seizes the helm. But not, any longer.
    Watching the prime minister pass by in a seventy-car cavalcade even as local investors flee; foreign investments dry up; hunger drives families to suicide and despair takes hold is a cathartic experience. Hence, even if dispatching the government before it has completed its term harms democracy and means that we can’t get to spew criticism at the regime, so be it. The risk is worth taking. As for the public, it is more than ready to trade democracy for bread, a modicum of jobs and a sliver of hope. They’ve had it up to their gills with democracy. All that democracy does is ‘to substitute election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few’.
    Of course, to those who are better off such talk may suggest a lack of proportion when discussing our problems and also, perhaps, an intensity that goes too far; but not really. They too should take heed because they are dancing on a volcano.
    As for who will deliver the coup de grace, who cares? For the masses, which are leading lives of quiet desperation, it does not matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mice. Bring it on, is what they are saying, if only this regime cared to listen.
    Finally, it’s worth remembering in the midst of all the cant on TV talk shows the virtues of democracy that the first petition in the Christian prayer is for “daily bread” because no one can worship God, love his neighbour or do anything at all on an empty stomach.
    When it comes to governance whether a regime is democratically elected or not, scarcely matters; what matters is performance. Let’s reflect on that, if only because self reflection is the school of wisdom and meanwhile hope that the coup de grace, hopefully imminent, will be quick and painless AND that democracy will continue to thrive.
    Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2012.


  4. Azhar says:

    Its a shame that such a good article written by Marvi had to be tainted by her gender bias. the relationship between the army and politicians has nothing to do with the gender Marvi. It is however, true that army must work under the elected govt but what if the govt is not elected by the people, and rather selected by the Pentagon? There is basic flaw in the character of the entire society and till the time that flaw is removed this is the kind of leadership we’ll get; whether in uniform or in civvies .


  5. Hamid Mirza says:

    fine marvi sirmed. I have something to discuss with you that can catalyse your endeavours. I may not be able to discuss it at this forum due to some reasons. my e mail add is


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