System of persuasive coexistence visible after GHQ moves

April 22,2016

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Gen Musharraf, Kayani won’t get the support from army they enjoyed in past;

under persuasive paradigm action was initiated without waiting for approval from executive

Perspective

DUBAI: The new paradigm of good governance and "persuasive co-existence", without destabilizing the political system, is now fully visible after two major moves by the GHQ in three days.

As against the previous military leaderships, the General Raheel-led team is now practically proving that they are different and will not follow the past.

Yet they have not so far been able to totally break away from the past and still have to clear some lingering debris of actions and shameful and humiliating decisions of their past commanders, including General Musharraf and General Kayani.

Both these army chiefs were, and are, still a continuing embarrassment for the Raheel team and there is serious thinking they may not get as strong institutional support in future as in the past.

General Kayani, first under Musharraf and then as a six-year tenure chief, did not show guts to fight terrorists and went along with every political compromise that brought down the stock of the uniform in the eyes of the public.

Musharraf behaved purely in his personal interest and used the institution but Raheel and company were too new in their jobs to immediately disown him. They protected him to a point but may have to cut him loose sooner than later.

The decision to announce the sacking of top generals and officers, shortly after declaring that corruption was the basic threat to national unity and integrity, means the resolve in the Raheel company is now solid and there is a sharp sense of timing as well.

Musharraf no longer fits into this equation and if he takes a wrong step now, he may not have anyone to take care.

“The gloves are off,” said someone who is closely in the knowledge of how decisions are taken.

It has now been decided that every institution chief who is not performing his job “honestly and in the larger national interest” as compared to interests and advantage of those who hired or promoted him, will be first quietly asked to “get on the track” and if that does not happen, "effective persuasive methods" could be used which obviously are going to be different in each case.

One instance of such quick response to matters which do not fall directly in the domain of the GHQ was recently seen in the case of a tycoon who was interviewed by a very credible British wire service.

Some comments of the tycoon about his ties with the army were not proper and instead of any denials or clarifications, the wire service was simply told, in the most polite but firm language, to withdraw the entire interview, as if it never took place. Persuasion worked and the results were promptly achieved as desired. In international journalism this is something very rare but it happened.

The persuasive paradigm was also seen evolving when the concept of Apex Committees was introduced, then it moved forward when messages were sent to NAB and other regulatory bodies to start acting independently.

Under the new paradigm, action was initiated without waiting for approval by the sitting executive authority, like in Sindh, Punjab and in other places. Action had to be taken and it was, whether government liked it or not.

Speeches at various forums by the army chief were then used to convey public messages on governance, corruption and threats to the country’s security after it was felt that the political leadership was reluctant to listen to private urgings and exhortations.

No threats of a takeover or destabilizing the system were made but it was conveyed that action will begin if timely approvals and executive okays were delayed.

That is now happening on the other issues which have been highlighted by Gen Raheel, especially governance and corruption.

Leading from the front by sacking his generals, the chief is subtly asking others to quickly follow his example.

This is the point where the problems begin. The politicians are taking all this as a conspiracy to uproot democracy because barring a couple of parties, all others who have been in government for years will have to account for small or big acts of omission or commission.

The politicians will thus never agree on a transparent and direct action against corruption. That pits them in direct conflict with what the GHQ now wants, has now explicitly declared and practically implemented by sacking the generals and holding others to account in the days and weeks to come.

The Panama Leaks has given the GHQ a God-sent gift and opportunity to push this agenda hard.

The total confusion in the government ranks has added to the uncertainty as PM Nawaz and his party have no logical and convincing answer to the questions and charges that are being made.

The worrying part of this whole episode for the Nawaz camp should be the continuous flow and leakage of documents and property papers though they were not even part of the Panama papers. The flow will increase and if a commission or forensic audit was ordered, the evidence would be dumped in bulk before the inspectors.

The best solution Nawaz has found is to politicize the issue of corruption, including the Panama Leaks and treat the issue of the leaked information as a passing phenomenon which could be brushed under the carpet under the din of political or international conspiracy. It may not work that easily.

Why? Because the momentum that has been given to this issue by the GHQ will now bring all anti-Nawaz forces on one platform and in the situation that gets worse by the day, if Nawaz panics like he did shortly before October 12, 1999 or when he gave the “no dictation” speech in the 1990s, things could take a very ugly turn. The writing on the wall may not be very artistic calligraphy.


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