The post-Musharraf era: democratization in
Pakistan and the national security state
Parliamentary elections were held in February 2008. The PMLQ, pro-Musharraf s political party, lost in all its major constituencies in the country. The PPP and PMLN formed a coalition government at the federal and provincial levels. The PPP's Yousuf Raza Gilani became prime minister. Unlike the previous elections in the 1990s, the 2008 one was relatively free and fair. Due to possible impeachment by the national parliament, General Musharraf resigned from his position as president. Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP's co-chairman, became the new president, which ended the dictatorship of General Musharraf. Thus, the appearance of democracy was returned to Pakistan. But the new government inherited a plethora of problems, including home-grown terrorism, US drone attacks, suicide bombings, a weak economy, targeted killings, the Baloch separatist movements, and a Taliban militancy (Zaidi 2011). Nonetheless, the democratic transition once again provided a window of opportunity for the civilian leadership to establish civilian supremacy in the country.
Like previous political regimes, the PPP government attempted to reform the national security state in order to stop military intervention in the political affairs of the state. In April 2010, the government passed the landmark 18th constitutional amendment. The amendment modified 102 out of a total of 280 articles of the 1973 constitution (Appendix 13). It was the largest constitutional change in the history of Pakistan since the 1973 constitution was implemented. The amendment repealed the problematic Article 58 (2) (b), which provided major powers to the president while making the prime minister more a symbolic chief executive of the state. This article was first promulgated in the eighth amendment by General Zia and then revived in the 17th amendment by General Musharraf (Burki 2010). Thus, in 2010, the discretionary powers of the president were removed. Now the president can only consider and approve those bills and orders that have been passed by the parliament and the senate, or upper house. More importantly, Article 6 of the constitution was strengthened to deter any future military takeovers. Under Article 6, a military coup will be considered an “act of treason,” and the Supreme Court and High Court can no longer validate a military coup (Appendix 5). In sum, the legislation restored the parliamentary system in the country, and President Zardari transferred his powers as president back to parliament. Thus, the PPP-led government constitutionally prevented direct military intervention in politics.
In addition to this, the 18th amendment initiated decentralization in the country. It gives more power and autonomy to the provinces. Also, the legislation sought to strengthen the senate, in which each province has an equal number of representatives (Burki 2010). Such decentralization of power could further weaken Pakistan's national security state which is based on a strong centralized government.
The PPP government made considerable further efforts to strengthen the democratization process in the country. It tried to assert control over foreign and security policy. In November 2008, the government formulated a “Parliamentary Committee on National Security” (PCNS) through a joint parliamentary resolution. The primary objective of the PCNS was to carry out “a review of the national security strategy and revisit the methodology of combating terrorism in order to restore peace and stability through an independent foreign policy” (PILDAT report 2013). Traditionally, parliamentary committees and bodies had little say in foreign policymaking, which was often influenced by the military by means of their policy recommendations. However, the PCNS was able to draw strength from public anger over events such as the US raid on Bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad; the CIA contractor Raymond Davis’s killing of two Pakistani intelligence agents; and the deadly attack on the Pakistani checkpoint at Salala by NATO forces on the Pakistan-Afghan border in November 2011. Consequently, the PCNS recommended closing the NATO supply route to Afghanistan as well as the Shamsi airbase which was used by the US for their drone campaign in the region. This compelled the US to look for alternative ground routes to Afghanistan, which was very expensive. It also affected drone operations in the region. The Pakistan-US relationship reached an all-time low and the supply route remained closed between November 2011 and July 2012 (Fair 2015). Eventually, the government overruled the PCNS’s recommendations and opened the supply route after the military intervened. However, the PCNS was unable to produce a comprehensive national security policy under the PPP-led government due to differences between the PPP and PMLN (PILDAT report 2013).
Like in the 1990s, the political divide provided an opportunity to the military elite to regain its control over the state affairs. The major issue that divided the two parties was the reinstatement of 60 deposed judges who had been removed by General Musharraf (Asghar 2008). Furthermore, President Zardari imposed “Governor’s Rule” and dismissed the PMLN provincial government in Punjab when a court declared former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif ineligible to contest elections. Once again, old hostile power politics revived between the two main political parties. The PMLN moved against the federal government and supported a long march by lawyers for the restoration of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who was dismissed by General Musharraf. Sharif called off the march after the government announced the restoration of the chief justice. Consequently, Sharif was praised both nationally and internationally for the restoration of judicial integrity. However, the squabbles between the political parties reignited the debate over whether political parties were competent to run state affairs. General Ashfaq Kayani, the then COAS, had played a major role in resolving the political crisis. More importantly, General Kayani gradually restored the image of the military which had been tarnished under General Musharraf s regime (Akhtar 2009). Thus, hostile party politics
Pakistan ’s post-Cold War national security 87 provided the opportunity for the military elite to resume its role in the political affairs of the state.
Despite the above political divide and numerous other challenges, the PPP government managed to complete her five-year tenure in parliament. Parliamentary elections were held in May 2013 in which the PMLN got the majority. It was the first time in the history of Pakistan that democratically elected government transferred power to another democratically elected government. Unlike previous civilian governments, the Zardari regime exploited the window of opportunity to establish civilian rule in the country in which they were relatively successful to end martial administration and decentralizing powers and financial resources to the provinces under the 18th constitutional amendments. However, the Pakistani military elite maintained its control over other state institutions such as the judiciary, bureaucracy, and media. Beside the political divide, these institutions have been used by the Pakistani military to undermine the political process in the country (Shah 2014).
In sum, Islamabad has persisted with the military-first national security state approach in the post-Cold War era. The Pakistani military and ISI executed the foreign and security policies and took all the major decisions related to strategic importance in the post-Cold War era. The continuous conflict in Kashmir and Pakistan’s participation in the global war on terror provide key cases to make in-depth analyzes of Pakistan’s military-first national security state approach in the post-Cold War. More specifically, the primaiy objective of the two cases is to see the effectiveness of the national security state approach in solving major disputes confronted by Pakistan.