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Online Debate: The Civil-Military Equation in Pakistan

Author: Daniel S. Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia
May 6, 2013
Gateway House

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For access to full remarks, click here.

For the motion

1. Opening remarks

This week, Pakistan will pass a milestone in the gradual process of consolidating civilian democracy. For the first time in the nation's history, voters will elect a new government to succeed a civilian administration that served its full five-year term. Opinion polls suggest that the vote will bring a peaceful alternation of power from the ruling coalition to the opposition party led by Nawaz Sharif. Read the full opening remarks here.

2. Rebuttal:

Ambassador Deo is correct that Pakistan's military still has a great deal to say about foreign and defense policy. This is a troubling hangover from decades of military rule. It does not, however, negate the emerging reality that Pakistan's overall power equation has begun to tilt in favor of civilians. Read the full rebuttal here.

3. Closing remarks:

Analysts often portray the central political drama in Pakistan as a morality play between the"evil" military and "good" civilians. In so doing, they leap to the conclusion that Pakistan will undoubtedly benefit if the balance of power tips in the civilians' favour.

In this debate, I have presented evidence of the waning power of the military, but I have also argued that the trend is disruptive; that is, it has the potential to benefit a wide array of civilian forces, some committed to democracy, others to civilian authoritarianism, and still others to criminality and violence. To decide whether the rising power of Pakistan's civilians will be a net force for good, we must also ask which civilians stand to gain most and how they intend to use their newfound power. Read the full closing remarks here.

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