Friday, October 07, 2016

Is Pakistan heading for a coup?

Here is why I think Pakistan may be headed for a coup.

There is a separation of powers between PM Nawaz Sharif and the Army under Gen. Raheel Sharif. The PM controls the civilian function and some fraction of internal security matters, and Gen. Raheel Sharif controls all external security issues and the greater fraction of internal security matters. The arrangement is quite robust and there is almost no overlap between the two domains.

The Pakistan Army has for decades now accepted that it cannot fight and win a conventional war against India and the Army has had to resort to sub-conventional options to redress the imbalance. As India's economy has grown, its capacity for defense spending has increased - and so proportionally has the size of its arsenal and the readiness of its military forces. The Pakistan Army has to keep up with that change and both its conventional and sub-conventional packages have be *expanded*.  In order to carry out this expansion it needs to pull more resources out of Pakistan's shrinking budget. The budget is in the civilian sphere of responsibility.

The Modi Administration has indicated that it does not want to see the sub-conventional side of the Pakistan Army's option package expanded. In order to make its view heard it has put the entire Indus Water Treaty (IWT) on the table. The Pakistan Army knows its option packages cannot change the lower riparian status of Pakistan. It has no counter to the Indian move to cut of meetings of the Permanent Commission. By pulling this move - India has basically openly said that the Pakistan Army is irrelevant to the Indo-Pak discourse. I am sure that attitude by India is making the Pakistan Army feel terrible.

Most of Pakistan's civilian leaders and a good number of Pakistan Army people rely on agricultural income. They need more water for their farms to be productive. That water can only come from India, and without the IWT's negotiation meetings, there is no scope of Pakistan getting that water. The civilians are not okay with that.  As the water negotiations and distribution (managed by the Indus River System Authority - IRSA) are under civilian control, they feel that they have the last say on these matters.

The Army has a history of ignoring civilian inputs and so the civilians are being extremely forceful in telling the army to restructure its sub-conventional options package. The problem is that this intrudes on a topic that is firmly in the military domain.

From the Army's perspective - it doesn't have to take this behavior from the civilians. It can conduct a coup - seize control of the national budget and IRSA and then reorganize things the way it prefers it. The Pakistani political spectrum has shown itself to be quite malleable, for every defiant Nawaz Sharif, there is a pliant Imran Khan waiting in the wings.

As both the Pakistani civilian leadership and the Pakistan Army cast an eye on things in each others' possession - the friction between them increases and a coup draws nearer.

I am one of those people that believe that Pakistan will continue to see civilian regimes punctuated by military coups in the foreseeable future.

There is no room in that country to have a functional democracy and a powerful military - for one to live - the other must die and since a coup is much cheaper than a democratic revolution - the coup is inevitable.


At 11:40 AM, Blogger Nanana said...

See part 2. Ahsan Butt has an interesting and obvious "out of the boz" solution that is win win

At 8:43 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Maybe I dissent with the crowd here but I think Kashmir is largely a vehicle to keep the idea of sub-conventional options alive.

There may have been a time when Kashmir had an independent reality in some political realm vis-a-vis India but now it is more about keeping Pakistan's sub-conventional packages in good working order.

I don't know if anyone agrees with my point of view.


Post a Comment

<< Home