Senate of Pakistan

A most welcome step

A most welcome step October 3, 2012

The military has had a tendency of keeping civilians at bay when it comes to issues of national security. Civilians, too, have tended to abdicate their responsibility to wrest control back from the military for fear that they will be overthrown, just as Nawaz Sharif was for withdrawing our troops from Kargil. In recent months, though, the civilian set-up has taken some baby steps in an initial attempt to adjust the balance of power in its favour. First, after the Salala attack last year, parliament actually debated the future of our alliance with the US and presented a set of proposals. Though those suggestions were almost completely ignored by the military, it at least represented a start. Now, the Senate Defence Committee has gone a step further by holding public hearings into the full spectrum of national security issues.

A public hearing, as bold a step as it may be, is not going to be remotely enough to get the military to hand over rightful control of the defence policy to elected civilian governments. What it does, at least, is allow the general public to know how security issues have been appropriated by institutions that are not accountable to the electorate in the true sense of the word. Tariq Khosa, a former head of the FIA, explicitly laid out how the regime of General Ziaul Haq provided official patronage to militant groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba and did not allow their leaders to be arrested. That the military has supported these terrorist outfits is an open secret in the country but to have it be expressed in the Senate sends a bold message that such policies need to be changed.

These hearings need to continue so that the military’s actions in the name of national security become a matter of public record. It is important to excavate the past so that the actions of today are understood. Sectarian groups supported by the military still act unimpeded and we need to find out the level of official support they receive. It is also hoped that experts holding all shades of opinions are invited by the committee in the future. The next logical step would be for the Senate Defence Committee to order the top brass of the military to appear before it and justify its actions. If the committee does that, we will know that it is serious about wresting power away from the khakis.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2012.

Defence & Security Updates



Senator Mushahid Hussain's Speech on June 11, 2015

 Senator Mushahid Hussain's Speech on June 11, 2015

Senator Mushahid Hussain's Speech on June 10, 2015

 Senator Mushahid Hussain's Speech on June 10, 2015

View more videos

Defence Updates

Useful Links

Useful Blogs

Twitter Updates