Setting the Record Straight

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The foot note to an article comparing India’s Army Chief with General Bajwa the Pakistani Army Chief states that the author is Harsha Kakar a retired army officer and a ‘strategic writer’ based out of Lucknow. There is very little of strategy in his article but much about gaining brownie points by praising the Indian Chief and criticizing Pakistan’s Army Chief. Though there is very little interest in Pakistan in the Indian Army Chief, there seems to be an obsession in India not just with Pakistan’s Army Chief but also with the ISI — in fact with the whole military system — so without commenting on the Indian Chief some misrepresented ideas need to be corrected.

“One (Pakistani) controls the polity, while the other (Indian) is controlled by it; one has complete freedom to function, while the other is hemmed in by politicians and bureaucracy”.
The Pakistani Army Chief does not control the polity but it is true that he is not ‘hemmed in’ by politicians and bureaucracy.

“In Pakistan, the army chief is the most powerful individual in the nation. Although appointed by the prime minister, Pakistan’s army chiefs assume more power than the prime minister and at times has even overthrown the same individual who appointed him. General Bajwa was chosen to lead Pakistan’s army because of his views on supporting civilian governments. His professionalism and capability were secondary. The Pakistan army, on the other hand, controls every para-military force in the country. Therefore, it wields complete power, as every armed force is under its command. Hence, directly or indirectly it is responsible for restoring order during civil unrest. This control gives the Pakistan army chief his power and the capability to launch coups”.
Not correct. The para-military forces in Pakistan are under the Ministry of Interior. The Pakistan Army acts in support of civil power when asked and authorized to do so. The Army Chief does not have more power than the Prime Minister. General Bajwa was appointed on the basis of his professional competence and there was no other consideration. It is true that the military has intervened in extraordinary circumstances and has then prolonged its rule—the consensus in Pakistan is that this will not happen in the future.

“The Pakistan army chief is the sole authority to decide the nation’s foreign policy towards India and Afghanistan, as also national security. It is his ISI that controls terror groups, who would up or lower the ante against India and Afghanistan based on his directions. It is he who takes the final call on the ongoing policy of ‘bleeding India by a thousand cuts’. In Pakistan, it is General Bajwa who will take a call on whether the nuclear card is to be employed and at what level. The civil government has no role or responsibility”
Foreign policy is the domain of the government. So is national security policy. The military does provide input as is the case in most countries where the military is respected and looked up to. The ISI is under the Prime Minister and does not control terror groups—it does have a strong counter terror wing and is internationally rated as one of the best intelligence agencies. General Bajwa will certainly take steps to counter Indian designs and actions and the policy will be approved by the government. The National Command Authority headed by the Prime Minister takes all decisions on nuclear matters.

“General Bajwa, on the other hand, inherits an army whose sole purpose for survival is re-obtaining Kashmir. The army is taught to hate India. Further religious minorities have no place in their army. It is an army based on religious fundamentalism, which is difficult to change. This impacts any civil government decision to commence peace talks”
Total misstatement of facts. The Pakistan Army exists to safeguard the country’s interests. The Pakistan Army is not taught to hate India—hate if any comes when they see Indian military committing atrocities. The Pakistan Army does not differentiate on religions, ethnic or sectarian grounds and there is no caste system in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army has been battling extremism without any problem. The Pakistan Army supports the government’s proposal for dialogue and has always been supportive.

“In Pakistan, it is the army, which at times, is called in to broker peace between warring political parties. The army can alter politics in Pakistan, whereas the government can politicize the army in India. The Pakistan army, on the other hand, can demand and get. However, a poor economy places severe restrictions on its modernisation, compelling it to back on largesse from China and the US”
In Pakistan the political institution has matured and has demonstrated the capacity to resolve political issues with recourse to the judiciary if required. The Pakistan military has learnt not to interfere in politics and events over the last decade prove that—it has no desire to interfere and has never been politicized as an institution. Pakistan has a well developed and established weapons procurement procedure as well as an excellent indigenous defense production facility.

“Pakistan, on the other hand, is responsible for activating the Indian border and the J&K insurgency, while employing a major part of its force to battle freedom struggles in different parts of the country. Further, with a militarily weak nation like Afghanistan on one border, it has only one active border to protect”
The Pakistan Army is not responsible for ‘activating’ the border with India but it is certainly responsible for defending it and countering unprovoked aggression as it has done frequently. The uprising in Indian Occupied Kashmir is indigenous as has been stated by several Indian writers. Pakistan desires friendly relations with Afghanistan and does not see a military threat from Afghanistan unless India chooses to involve Afghanistan by using its territory for covert and overt operations—in that case Pakistan can defend on both fronts.

“The Pakistan army demands and gets its increments. Every other government service is below the army in standing and stature. The army reigns supreme in Pakistan. For instance, in retaliation to the killing of an army major, the Pakistan army demolished a business centre in Wana, South Waziristan”
The Pakistan Army has an established salary and allowances structure duly approved by the government. It is the government that decides on the defense budget. The Army does not reign supreme—it is a powerful part of the power structure of Pakistan and it is government policy that orchestrates national power in pursuit of national interests. The military does not act against its own people as is the case in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

“The Pakistan army welfare foundations, on the other hand, control thousands of business ventures in the country, ranging from petrol pumps to industrial plants with a turnover of over $20 bn . It re-employs its soldiers and officers into plum posts in its internal ventures. Their army chief heads their army welfare foundation”
Sour grapes!! The military does have an Army Welfare Trust and a Foundation—all professionally manned and administered. The business ventures are not in thousands but they are all taxpaying entities. The Army Chief does not interfere. Yes, retired personnel are employed for their expertise.

“In summary, both chiefs face entirely opposite scenarios. While one controls the polity, the other is controlled by it, while one has complete freedom to function, the other is hemmed in by politicians and bureaucracy, and while one is the most powerful individual in the country and essential for approving foreign policy and security issues, the other is kept away from decision-making. This is the difference between a near military state Pakistan, as compared to a democratic India.”
Does not need further comment. It is up to India to save its Army Chief from being hemmed in by politicians and bureaucrats and give him some kind of role in decision-making. Pakistan has no such problems or issues. Pakistan has a democratically elected government and is a functioning democracy with no caste system.


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