ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Undermining Democracy in Pakistan

With an election due by late summer, the Pakistani military and its clandestine wings have begun attempts to manage, if not control and influence, events leading up to the polls. Journalists and bloggers have been picked up and beaten by “masked armed men,” and mentioning Balochistan or talking and writing about what is happening in one of Pakistan’s provinces is dangerous to life and liberty. The silenced, missing Baloch has become a symbol of the Pakistani state’s intransigence, not much reported in the local or international media.

Pakistan’s military and its secret institutions are at it again, doing what they have done for six decades, since 1958. They are out to undermine any semblance of elected civilian sovereignty over Pakistan’s political map, trying their best to destroy political credibility and agency, propping up numerous dubious individuals and political parties, including those of militants, while they discredit elected representatives.

Cynics would argue that this has always been the case, that Pakistan’s army controls Pakistan’s nuclear policy, as it does relations with India and Afghanistan, and that it has always held hegemony over most institutions and activities which are designated as civilian. They have, many would argue, always controlled the strings (and purses) of elected civilian governments since at least the early 1950s. When they tire of elected civilian representatives, they have, on three occasions—1958, 1977 and 1999 (the two-decade cycle)—taken over power and government both, directly through military coups. Often no longer needing to manage affairs from behind the scene, in 70 years the military has ruled directly for more than three decades. Until as recently as 2013, academics had to remind their readers that Pakistan’s army has ruled Pakistan for more than half its independence since 1947. With the two-decade cycle just a year away, public discourse, and the military’s own machinations, suggest that they may be thinking about yet another coup. Of sorts.

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Updated On : 22nd Jan, 2018
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