Ayesha Siddiqa, senior fellow in the Department of War Studies in King’s College, London, has written an article published in the Indian portal The Print titled ‘Pakistan leaders want to reimagine the nation but must cut lavish defence spending first ‘.
Ayesha says in that article that after the recent Peshawar bomb blast several politicians, civil servants, and intellectuals in Pakistan have been talking of ‘reimagining’ the country. She writes ” It is worth wondering how far the group will take the debate as there are no signals to question the huge amount spent on national security or the necessary military reforms ”. She concludes by saying ” Many in Pakistan shy away from engaging with the issue ”.
Ayesha should have added facts from her own book Military Inc. The truth is that the Pakistan military have milked the Pakistan economy for several decades, and their huge corporates like the Fauji Foundation, Army Welfare Trust, Shaheen Foundation ( for the Air Force ) and Bahria Foundation ( for the navy ), like leeches, have penetrated into almost every sector of Pakistan’s economy, as detailed in the article below. The Pakistan military has therefore a vested interest in ruling Pakistan, which they have done, overtly or covertly, almost throughout Pakistan’s history. The real government in Pakistan is not the Prime Minister and his cabinet, but the Corps Commanders conferences where many vital decisions are taken.
Like the Praetorian Guards of ancient Rome ( who even auctioned the Roman Empire once ), the Pakistan military has tasted blood. Many of its retired generals are billionaires.
To come under civilian rule would mean that the military officers would not be able to continue looting the country, and would have to render accounts of their loot. Why should they do this ?
As was said ‘ Power grows out of the barrel of a gun ”, and the Pakistan military has the gun. The hanging of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and the ouster of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sent a clear message to civilians : ‘Dont mess with the Pakistan army, and dont ask us to be accountable or transparent, if you value your life’.
The historian Plutarch writes that when Roman general Pompey the Great went to Sicily, the people of Sicily objected to his jurisdiction as it was against an ancient law of Rome. To which Pompey replied ” Dont quote the law to us, we carry swords ”.
If the Pakistan army stages a military coup, the Pakistan Supreme Court will validate it under the ‘doctrine of necessity’ which former Chief Justice of Pakistan, using his creativity, brilliantly expounded in 1954
So there will be no legal recourse.
As the great poet Faiz said in his poem ‘Nisar main teri galiyon ke ai watan’:
” chali hai rasm ki koi na sar uthake chale
jo koi chaahne vaala tavāf ko nikle
nazar chura ke chale jism o jaan bacha ke chale ”
No wonder civilians in Pakistan are shy of criticising or questioning the military. Some journalists who have done so have the habit of disappearing.
It is therefore facetious of Ayesha to expect cutting defence expenditure in Pakistan. Sitting comfortably in London she can say whatever she likes, but let her come to Pakistan and say it, and then see what music she will face.