The military’s preferences for peace and security approaches
Pakistan’s military is widely perceived to have changed its strategic security preferences, as summarised in Figures 6.1-6.3. Figure 6.1 shows the military’s preferences in relation to human security and national security. To enable a better comparison, NGOs’ preferences are also displayed.
Almost all military respondents stated that they believed that there had been a shift in the military’s strategy since the end of the period of military rule and they overwhelmingly argued that Pakistan’s security strategy should focus on human security and national security in equal measure. Although the number of military respondents in the studied sample is relatively small, and it might be expected that the military would seek to project change, the prevalent preferences for the ‘both equally’ option can be interpreted as a predominant perception of transition from the army’s traditional exclusive focus on national security to more comprehensive models of peace and security. The ongoing insecurity inside Pakistan could have been used to justify a focus on national security, without necessarily defending or even acknowledging military control over the elected government - however, military respondents chose instead to highlight the approaches linked to multi-agency security models, which promote human security. Bottom-up processes of peace and security, such as countering violent extremism (CVE), were mentioned as a priority area by several respondents in the studied sample (Anonymous military participant in the survey; Interview Participant #18, Senior NGO Representative).1 One respondent attempts to explain this unexpected but tangible transition: “Maybe on CVE they trust more, they listen, but comparatively is becoming easy to engage security institutions in intellectual discourse on SSR, extremism, it wasn’t the same until 2008, 2009. It was
Figure 6.1 Preferences for National Security.2
quite hard” (Interview Participant #34, Senior NGO Representative). This can show a greater willingness of the military to work with civilian institutions on multidimensional, comprehensive security approaches, involving multiple agencies and preventive approaches to peace and security, in the studied period. Only one quarter of the respondents (see Figure 6.1) consider that Pakistan’s security strategy should exclusively focus on national security, suggesting a significant change in the type of military culture that respondents believe should be projected. Due to poor performance of the civilian government, the Pakistan military is still seen by many as the guardian of Pakistan’s sovereignty and the role in performing national security functions is unconditionally accepted. One senior academic claimed:
They have their concerns for national security issues. It is true that sometimes political leadership does not take decisions freely, but the military needs solutions. If there is a problem in the society, they need solutions. Zarb-e-Azb was a landmark operation. Every person in Pakistan gives credence to General Raheel Sharif because he started the operation against terrorists. This is why the military is trusted.
(Interview Participant #13, Senior Academia Representative)3
The armed forces were formally in power for nearly half of Pakistan’s existence as an independent state and the military as a governance and defence actor is strongly embedded in the societal and collective culture. While a formal coup d’etat would be unacceptable for the majority of the society, a large section of the population still seems to support a strong role for the military. A strong military institution is seen as a potential corrective authority for the gaps in the civilian administrations. The significant popular support for the military institutions means that perhaps the senior military figures do not fear a sudden and radical end to their political role. Nonetheless, the military is conscious that the influence remains controversial for many and they may be seeking to actively manage their public reputation by promoting a strategy emphasising the military’s concern with both national security and more progressive and democratic, human security.
Figure 6.2 shows the military’s preferences for security and counterterrorism approaches, based on survey data. The answer options draw on Goodhand (2013) and Kilcullen (2010).
The results in Figure 6.2 reinforce the finding that the military’s vision is perceived to have shifted to a more comprehensive and holistic approach. Interestingly, the ‘integration of militants’ and ‘elimination of militants’ represent the top strategies, which military respondents believed the military was prioritising. While apparently mutually exclusive, these results suggest that a differentiated approach is implemented in function of the rad- icalisation degree of the militants. For example, ‘elimination’ accompanied by the destruction of infrastructure is likely to be preferred for fighters in
Figure 6.2 Comparative Preferences for Peace and Security.4
an advanced level of radicalisation, while ‘integration’ is envisaged for less radicalised or moderate militants. One military respondent claimed that while a hard approach is usually applied to “hardened cadres or leadership”, whose ideology is “irreconcilable, (...) not prone to de-radicalisation or integration”, integrative and rehabilitation measures are implemented for de-radicalisation and reintegrating low-level fighters (Anonymous military participant in the survey). Another military respondent explains why he believes that ‘elimination’ alone might not be sufficient:
[Eliminating militants/insurgents or capturing them only removes the foot soldiers. The strategic planners and logistic providers are sitting abroad, mostly in Afghanistan, India and even in the US, UK, France and Israel. No amount of soldiering alone within Pakistan can bring about sustainable peace and security.
(Anonymous military participant in the survey)
‘Out-governing militants’ was another significant response in relation to the defence forces’ preferred security approaches. The military showed preferences for this mechanism even stronger than civilian respondents. This result, seemingly unexpected, might suggest a tendency of the military towards articulating comprehensive, multi-agency security approaches, such as SSR or COIN, which are “less about killing the enemy” but more “about ‘out-governing’ them” (Goodhand 2013: 291). The affinity for SSR-induced logics can be seen as impelled by a change in the strategy guiding military security missions. While Pakistan’s military officers have always been exposed to ‘Western’ military training and can therefore articulate these strategic shifts better than the civil society, there has been no obvious significant change in the degree of Western influence and yet military respondents consistently argued that there has been a shift in approach.
Overall, the results in Figures 6.1 and 6.2 suggest a military who considers pursuing security strategies encompassing both hard and soft approaches, both corrective and preventive mechanisms. “Militancy can be overcome more effectively by harnessing local support, elimination of poverty and giving education to the inhabitants of tribal areas, where militancy flourishes due to reasons I have suggested for eradication”, claimed a senior military respondent (Anonymous military participant in the survey). These views support the claim that the military organisation became more aware and supportive of the approaches of peace and security focusing on tackling the root causes of terrorism. During a focus group discussion, it was highlighted that:
[T]he military is beginning to realise that despite the fact that a lot of these actions have been giving results, that is not enough in long term. They really need to put in place some soft measures, some in-depth, far-reaching nationwide and have a long-term vision in order to get rid of militancy.
(Focus Group Discussion with Participants #9a and #9b,
Senior NGO Representatives)
These dynamics can suggest a quasi-constabularisation of the armed forces and a “gradual decrease of the projected military force” (Oliveira 2010: 53) after the military rule of Pervez Musharraf. A concern with non-violent means of eliminating radicalisation and extremism (which are conducive to terrorism) can play an auxiliary role in the processes of democratic security sector governance and reform. For example, the disarmament, rehabilitation and training of captured militants to facilitate their re-integration in the society can be more compatible with SSR approaches than (indiscriminately and exhaustively) ‘eliminating militants’. Non-lethal military missions can range from disarmament of insurgents and arms control, reconstruction support and assistance in humanitarian missions, as well as support for setting up civilian political structures. These types of activities involve a transition from “the traditional role exercising military power” to “non-coercive roles” and imply a comprehensive concept of security, encompassing components such as conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding (Takai 2002: 127, 139). Ability and capacity to perform these types of roles require a ‘positive’ understanding of security, focused on both eliminating root causes (sustainability of the approach) and reconstruction of the societal and political structures (efficiency of the approach). This leads us to infer that the perceived change in the military’s strategy post-Musharraf was more profound and concerned with adaptation to participate in a more democratic environment.
The perception of change in military strategy is further outlined by the military’s preferences towards the actors who should play a normative role in security-related activities in Pakistan, as outlined in Figure 6.3.
The results emphasise the military’s preferences for multi-actor security and hybrid approaches to sustainably counter terrorism and conflict. All
Figure 6.3 Actors Who Should Participate in Security-Related Activities.5
respondents in the sample are of the opinion that institutions of the civilian government should participate in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and security-related areas. An interesting finding is that the military claimed support for the involvement of civil society representatives in security-related operations. It could outline the military’s acknowledgement or maybe acquiescence of approaches based on human security logics, emerging from a local, grassroots level and designed to reflect the needs and understandings of local communities. The results in Figure 6.3 might also outline the military’s differentiated preferences for civil society representatives on one side and NGOs (which, in this research and in literature in general, are conceptualised as part of the civil society) on the other side. One military respondent in the survey explains the differentiated perceptions towards civil society impact:
Some representatives of civil society have a sobering impact and promote stability and peace. However, political, religious parties’ heads and splinter groups with various names have an unsettling impact. Political parties are less disruptive but the religion-based militant groups are destructive and the main cause of insecurity in Pakistan.
(Anonymous military participant in the survey)
The more positive scores for civil society (see Figure 6.3) reflect a view that the term is used to mean community-based organisations with a local focus, while NGOs also include more urban activist-based groups, including pro-democratisation and advocacy groups. While the military respondents show appreciation for the impact of many civil society leaders and organisations on peace and stability, on many occasions, reluctance to the uncertain impact of other civil organisations was also expressed. The belief that NGOs might have disruptive effects on security is related to the development in recent years that some extremist organisations, registered as NGOs, were found to be involved in radicalisation, funding or recruitment for terrorism. Despite this major limitation, overall, the military seems to nonetheless collaborate with some NGOs. In the recent years, the military has commenced a series of partnerships with NGOs. One illustrative example of military-NGO synergy is the Sabawoon Rehabilitation Centre in Swat Valley, run in cooperation with the domestic NGO Hum Pakistani Foundation and UNICEF (Library of Congress 2015), in which qualified social workers were allegedly responsible for the rehabilitation of youth captured by the military during security operations (Interview Participant #18, Senior NGO Representative). This example of hybrid projects, though rare, was perceived to suggest a certain realisation of the military “about the need to cooperate with civilian institutions and civil society” (Focus Group Discussion with Participants #9a and #9b, Senior NGO Representatives). Engagement with civilian actors might also indicate the military’s organisational weakness and gaps in fulfilling non-traditional functions such as the rehabilitation of combatants. An increasingly critical military mindset as well as perceived readiness to accommodate civilian actors and democratic elements in their missions could suggest a post-modern military institutional actor, which can participate in comprehensive, multi-agency approaches for peace and security governance. However, the alleged involvement of a staff affiliated with the INGO Save the Children in the CIA operation to apprehend Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in 2011 was found to be a factor that immensely prejudiced military’s relations with NGOs, particularly INGOs or externally funded local actors. Civil-military cooperation can be unstable and end prematurely, while some organisations are able to engage in continuous interaction. Many times, negative attitudes towards NGOs pertain to activist human rights groups. Some of these groups are reluctant to cooperate with the military, as it will be discussed in the next chapter.
The Taliban attack on a military school in Peshawar, which resulted in the deaths of more than 120 school children in 2014, constituted an important momentum for a realignment of civil-military relations. This incident seemed to have had a unifying effect on military and civilian institutions, which was also highlighted during the focus group discussion:
Especially since this incident in 2014 there is much more unity that is a collective national problem which is creating regional embarrassment for us, and that we need to collectively solve this problem. The military is not just recognising the contribution which non-military institutions have had, but they are also aware that they need that in order to win this fight.
(Focus Group Discussion with Participants #9a and #9b,
Senior NGO Representatives)
The 2014 massacre was one of the most disturbing armed attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The intensity and lack of scrupulosity of the attack, which targeted unarmed school children, not only shocked the whole country, but it also kept the headlines in international media. At a domestic level, the attack was perceived as both a shock and embarrassment: shocking because such a large-scale bloody attack has not happened often in Pakistan and embarrassing because the attack put Pakistan in a negative light at an international level, due to the military’s inability to sustainably deal with terrorism. Extreme security risks have disastrous effects on foreign direct investments, on which Pakistan’s economy is highly dependent, also because of the massive economic debt. Both the government and military institutions - the latter own large centres of production and large shares of the domestic economy - had an interest in delivering an adequate response to this attack that could project stability of the security environment. The 2014 attack became a collective problem that required a collective response. In response to the 2014 TTP terrorist massacre, a new security and counterterrorism strategy, the National Action Plan (NAP) was adopted by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) of the Ministry of Interior in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. The objective of the NAP was to sustainably tackle terrorism and its root causes, notably terrorism funding, hate speech, radicalisation and dismantling militant or terrorist organisations. The NAP encompassed 20 points, most of which evoked a credible and sincere approach to sustainably end terrorism in Pakistan such as “dealing firmly with sectarian terrorists” (Point 18). It also stated that the Balochistan government should “be fully empowered for political reconciliation with complete ownership by all stakeholders” (Point 17) (NACTA 2017). A few points, such as the re-introduction of the death sentence and the re-institution of military courts to deal with terrorist offences, were received with scepticism by many democratic actors. A wide range of military and non-military stakeholders, from federal and provincial levels, including some NGOs and think tanks, were involved in the drafting process of the NAP. This is reflected in the multidimensional design of the document, which consists of several structural components: a military one, a foreign policy dimension, a madrassa reform and a social reform, among others. However, several respondents commented on the deficient implementation of this new security strategy, especially with regard to the provisions related to human rights, which were included in the text, but not implemented in practice. This contrast is also reflected at the military’s public relations level, with the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) condemning terrorist groups and praising the civil society’s role in counterterrorism on public occasions - e.g. during the final address of the 13th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization held in Islamabad in 2017 - while also intimidating some of the civil society actors, according to the opinion of many respondents. This so-called double-level game not only diminishes the military’s credibility both domestically and internationally but also imperils the sustainable democratisation of security governance and peacebuilding processes.
The results in Figures 6.1-6.3 suggest a perceived change of the military, from a traditional, closed military organisation to a more open and modern one, capable of accommodating or co-existing to a certain extent with democratic peace and security approaches. This radical transition in the military’s policy and strategy post-Musharraf was depicted by some participants in the study:
- • ‘Until 2008, the army was only focused on hard power, execution. Not mindful of media, CSOs. Under General Kayani, things started changing. In this first meeting with the elected government, he said, “look, keep us out. Do not ask us to take over a territory, because when we take over (...)” - so, he understood the importance of the political. General Rahil Sharif was a different kind of person, all over. General Kayani was an intellectual, deeper person (...). 1 became his friend because he began this interaction with intellectuals just to get more informed. We had three interactions with him, every time 4 hours, it went to 1 or 2 am. Because he was so preoccupied with Swat, Waziristan. Before that operation, he had a consultation (...). Five or six intellectuals. I do not think such interactions happen today. The biggest advantage of Kayani was that he was still consulting, he was getting informed’ (Focus Group Discussion with Participants #9a and #9b. Senior NGO Representatives).
- • ‘We have done two interventions in which Army was involved. We have done child protection in a lot of public army schools at their request. Which is a big change. Because years ago, when we asked, they said no. And now they have asked us. We have done them across the years in AJ К and other provinces. Recently, ISPR, two months ago, they asked us to come on the radio’ (Interview Participant #12, NGO Representative).
- • ‘There was zero contact until 2007’ (Interview Participant #18, Senior NGO Representative).
- • ‘The military has travelled along. They have moved from their positions to very positive. Today’s military and ten years before is a very huge difference. It is more democratic, supportive and inclusive’ (Interview Participant #11, Senior Media Representative).
Changes in the military’s strategy, at both organisational and operational levels, can be an indicator of adaptation or initial transformation of the military institution, which is defined in the literature as a process of significant change (Kugler 2006; Reynolds 2007; Prezelj et al. 2016). Transformational change is a process that can take years or even decades and involves radical change, from an organisational/institutional status quo to another. Through interaction and exchange with civilian actors, including (I)NGOs and international actors, such as the EU or the United States, the military attempted to project relationships and systems of values. This might have triggered an intrinsic process of ideological change and adaptation from t| to t2. Shifts in the military strategic preferences with regard to security approaches are complemented by shifts in civil-military relations and the military’s positionality towards democratic processes, as discussed in the following two sub-sections.