Pakistan’s civilian government must gain more security expertise, and strengthen oversight and coordination among its agencies to counter the military’s role in internal counterinsurgency policy.

297

Summary

  • Internal militancy and insurgency are the immediate threats to Pakistan’s security.
  • Pakistan’s polity is fractured and dysfunctional, allowing the military to assert greater control over Pakistan’s response to this growing internal threat.
  • Civilian authorities have missed numerous opportunities to assert control over security matters. Miscalculation by the current civilian government in its attempt in 2008 to exert control over the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate soured civil-military relations at a time when the new army chief favored keeping the army out of politics.
  • The military’s interests are expanding to newer sectors, including economic policymaking, since a shrinking economy could hurt military interests and lifestyles.
  • An opportunity to improve security sector governance exists in the proposed National Counter Terrorism Authority, which the government has unduly delayed.

About the Report

This report reflects the views expressed during a conference entitled “Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?” hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Security Sector Governance Center on April 19, 2011. Speakers at the event included the author, Professor Hassan Abbas of Columbia University, and Moeed Yusuf of the U.S. Institute of Peace. The report discusses the complex political landscape in which Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities operate, often vying for power and supremacy; identifies the challenges facing Pakistan’s civilian government in the face of the military’s expanding role; and suggests a realignment of roles, increased expertise for civilian officials in security matters, and better civilian-military coordination.

About the Author

Shuja Nawaz is the director of the South Asia Center at The Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within. He is the principal author of FATA: A Most Dangerous Place, Pakistan in the Danger Zone: A Tenuous U.S.-Pakistan Relationship, and Learning by Doing: The Pakistan Army’s Experience with Counterinsurgency.
 

Related Publications

In Karachi, Flooding Lays Bare City’s Governance Issues

In Karachi, Flooding Lays Bare City’s Governance Issues

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

By: Jumaina Siddiqui; Cyril Almeida

Many parts of Pakistan have always struggled with flooding, especially over the last decade, due in part to climate change as weather events have become more extreme. But for Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, August saw immense rainfall—breaking all previous records in the past century—and widespread flooding that brought the city to a standstill. USIP’s Jumaina Siddiqui and Cyril Almeida look at why Karachi’s flooding situation is so dire, how contentious political dynamics have impeded governance reforms in the city, and what can be done to prevent future humanitarian disasters.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Economics & Environment

Pakistan Faces a Long Road to Sustainable Growth

Pakistan Faces a Long Road to Sustainable Growth

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

By: Uzair Younus

At the turn of the century, Pakistan had the highest GDP per capita when compared with India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. Twenty years later, it is at the bottom of the group. Political upheaval, a violent insurgency fed by the war in Afghanistan, and the inability of successive governments to carry out reforms are to blame for this decline. Today, a polarized political environment and elite intrigue among civilian, judicial, and military institutions has made sustainable economic growth and reforms that much more unlikely. The COVID-19 pandemic has further sharpened the challenge.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

One Year Since Their State Was Split Up, Kashmiris' Lives Remain in Limbo

One Year Since Their State Was Split Up, Kashmiris' Lives Remain in Limbo

Thursday, August 20, 2020

By: Ashish Kumar Sen

One year since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and downgraded its statehood to a centrally controlled union territory—an act it argued was intended to improve governance and attract investment to the region—residents’ lives remain upended by continued conflict and a high level of militarization.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

The Current Situation in Pakistan

The Current Situation in Pakistan

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Pakistan continues to face multiple sources of internal and external conflict. While incidences of domestic terrorism have reduced, in part due to measures taken by the Pakistani state, extremism and intolerance of diversity has grown.

Type: Fact Sheet

View All Publications