Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa recently advised top officers to read an American academic’s book on India’s success in keeping the military out of politics to drive home his point about the military staying out of governance.
The civilian-military imbalance has always been a tricky issue in Pakistan, which has been ruled by the powerful army for almost half its history.
But Steven I Wilkinson’s Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence, the book referred to by Bajwa, isn’t the only tome that could help the Pakistan Army’s officers gain a better understanding of the civil-military balance.
Here are some other books, written by Indians and Pakistanis, that could be essential reading for the officers:
1. India’s Military Conflicts and Diplomacy: An Inside View of Decision-Making by Gen (retired) VP Malik. This book by the man who led the Indian Army during the Kargil War of 1999 provides a glimpse of the role played by the military in decisions on key security issues. It narrates the role of the armed forces in successes such as ending the move by rebels to oust President Abdul Gayoom of the Maldives in 1988 and in failures such as Operation Pawan, India’s disastrous intervention against the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
2. Indian Army After Independence by Maj KC Praval. Written in the 1980s, the book covers the period from India’s independence in 1947 to the India-Pakistan war of 1971. It tracks the evolution of the army from the time of Partition, through the debacle of the 1962 war with China and the careful preparations by the military and civilian leadership that led to the victory in 1971. Praval emphasises the role that professionalism in the military has played in its successes.
3. Defending India by Jaswant Singh. A former Indian Army officer who went on to serve as defence minister, Singh analyses India’s management of conflicts and security challenges. It also tracks the evolution of the military and emphasises that economic development is key to national security. Singh also looked at the need for an overhaul of the defence ministry and higher management of the armed forces, including a bigger role for the military in decision-making.
4. Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within by Shuja Nawaz. This book written by the brother of a former Pakistan Army chief, Gen Asif Nawaz, takes a long hard look at the role of the military in Pakistan and its politics, the conflict between the army and jihadi groups bent on imposing Shariah or Islamic law and sectarian conflict. Experts have described it as one of the most authoritative looks at the internal workings of the Pakistan Army, including the factors that led to its dominance over the political establishment and the influence of serving and retired officers in business and bureaucracy.
5. Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military by Husain Haqqani. This book by Pakistan’s former envoy to the US, who many say was forced out of the post by the military, traces the relationship between the army and militant groups. It also looks at how the military has cosied up to the US by portraying itself as the only solution to security problems, such as the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, while continuing to use militant groups as proxies against countries such as India. Haqqani also argues that Islamisation, often blamed for many of Pakistan’s ills, was the cornerstone of efforts to consolidate the country’s identity long before it was embraced by military dictator Zia-ul-Haq.