Army and Governance

Musharraf loves to talk about his belief that Army should have a constitutional role in governing the nation. But is Army the answer to good governance, or is it part of the problem? According to Irfan Husain, we may be better served with less of the Army’s input than more.

In Pakistan, however, budgetary allocations are skewed by the fact that the army plays such a dominant role in the process. Not only does it assess military risks, but it evaluates intentions as well.

Finally, it virtually dictates to the government what resources it wants. Such is its stranglehold over the institutions of the state that the single-line entry for defence in the budget is not even debated in the National Assembly.

Ultimately it is the allocation of resources and the taxation structure that reflect the true distribution of power. In Pakistan the military siphons off the lion`s share of resources and the feudal class pays no taxes, while the business community gets away without paying anywhere near what it should. In this sense, both our income and expenditure are off-kilter.

Obviously, and as Mr Husain rightly notes, Army’s involvement in the budget and parliamentary consideration of national priorities is not the only factor which is causing problems. And equally it is obvious that Army plays a vital role in the defense of the nation. But just as MNAs should not be determining military strategy also Generals should not be making national policy.

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