Pakistan Army chief asks officers to read book on success of Indian democracy

At his first formal address to top Pakistan Army officers after taking over as chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa asked the gathering to read an American academic’s book on India’s success in keeping the military out of politics.
File photo of Pakistani Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Change of Command ceremony in Rawalpindi after he was appointed to the post last year.(AP)
File photo of Pakistani Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Change of Command ceremony in Rawalpindi after he was appointed to the post last year.(AP)
Updated on Feb 15, 2017 02:54 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had some unusual advice when top officers gathered for his first speech last year – read an American academic’s book on how India has succeeded in keeping the military out of politics.

The army has no business trying to run the government, Bajwa told the gathering of army officers of Rawalpindi Garrison at the General Headquarters auditorium in the last week of December, according to The Nation newspaper.

Bajwa’s first speech as army chief, described by the daily as “an articulation of his vision”, was delivered “in a poised manner” and his views were communicated “to his officers in unequivocal terms”.

The general urged the officers to read Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence, written by Steven I Wilkinson, the Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies at Yale University.

The 2015 book, which was well reviewed in India and the West, draws on comprehensive data to explore how and why India has succeeded in keeping its military out of politics when other countries have failed. It looks at political and foreign policies and strategic decisions that have made the “army safe for Indian democracy”.

The book also details why India’s democratic process has been a success.

It has been widely reported that Bajwa reads a lot about India, including reports in the media and books about the country. His colleagues have said his interest in India dates back to his days as a young major serving on the Line of Control in 1992.

Brig (retired) Feroz Hassan Khan, who was Bajwa’s commanding officer on the LoC, told the Hindustan Times that the man in what is usually seen as the most powerful position in Pakistan also does not have a “visceral hatred” of India.

Some have credited Bajwa for a reduction in tensions along the LoC and international border in Jammu and Kashmir though attacks by Pakistan-based terror groups have continued unabated.

Bajwa told the officers that the Pakistan Army “must remain within its constitutionally defined role” and “alluded that an impression of a competition between the civilians and the military is counter-productive for the country”, The Nation reported.

The report added that three months after becoming army chief, it could be “discerned that while Gen Bajwa believes in civilian supremacy, he will also not do anything that upends that existing structures and dynamics”. When a controversy recently erupted about land allocated to his predecessor, Raheel Sharif, a “sharp, almost edgy, rebuttal came from the military”.

It also said the comparison between the personal styles of Sharif and Bajwa “cannot be starker”. While Sharif “basked and glowed under the glare of television and press cameras”, Bajwa “likes to go about his job without pomp and show”.

His trips to the frontlines or speeches to troops have “lacked the breathless coverage that was the defining factor” of Sharif’s tenure and there has been no attempt to portray Bajwa as a “parallel, competing powerhouse, with strong political undertones”.

In his public remarks, Bajwa has said the army will support and assist the civilian government in the national interest. Officials were quoted as saying that “United we rise” was the theme adopted by the military and its media arm under Bajwa’s leadership.

Bajwa took over from Gen Raheel Sharif, who had an uneasy relationship with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The civil-military equation has always been a tricky issue for Pakistan, which has been ruled by the army for almost half its history. The army exercises an outsize influence on the country’s foreign and security policies.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Traffic police direct traffic near West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong on Thursday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Hong Kong to attend celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. (AFP)

    Hong Kong has ‘risen from the ashes’, China’s Xi says on handover anniversary visit

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a visit to Hong Kong on the city's handover anniversary on Thursday, told crowds that the city has been “reborn of fire” and “risen from the ashes” in what appeared to be references to the pro-democracy protests quelled by security forces in 2019 and a large-scale Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year.

  • China's President Xi Jinping delivers a speech after arriving for the upcoming handover anniversary by train in Hong Kong, Thursday, June 30, 2022. (AP/PTI)

    'Risen from the ashes...': What Xi Jinping said in Hong Kong today

    Hong Kong has 'risen from the ashes', China president Xi Jinping said Thursday on a rare visit to the former British colony. Xi Jinping's was in Hong Kong to celebrate 25 year since it was returned to China and administer the oath of office to the global financial hub's new leader, John Lee. Today was Xi Jinping's first visit to Hong Kong since 2017.

  • Taliban fighters stand guard in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan.

    Gunfire, explosions heard near Afghan grand assembly ‘loya jirga’ in Kabul

    Chaos erupted in Kabul as several explosions and gunfires were reported close to the hall where the 'Loya Jirga' or the grand assembly of religious scholars and elders is underway, local media reported. The exact cause and location of the gunfire is not clear yet. The Freedom Fighters Front in its statement said that its 'special forces' had attacked the Taliban gathering. But the Taliban regime has not said anything, Aamaj News English, reported.

  • An airplane takes off from Billy Bishop Airport after Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that passengers will require Covid-19 vaccination for air, ship and interprovincial train services, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (REUTERS)

    Canada extends Covid border restrictions to Sept 30

    Canada extended all existing Covid-related border restrictions till at least September 30 this year, the government announced on Wednesday. The restrictions include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for everyone except the fully vaccinated, which in this case means having taken the primary series of two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by Canadian health authorities. Those not considered fully vaccinated will also be tested on the first and eighth days after their entry into Canada.

  • Congo's army has been locked in heavy fighting since late May with the M23 rebel group, which is waging its most sustained offensive since a 2012-2013 insurrection that seized vast swathes of territory.

    Kidnapped Congo woman forced to cook, eat human flesh twice: Rights group to UN 

    A Congolese woman was kidnapped twice by militants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, repeatedly raped and forced to cook and eat human flesh, a Congolese rights group told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. Julienne Lusenge, president of women's rights group Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI), told the woman's story while addressing the 15-member council about the conflict-torn east of Congo.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, June 30, 2022