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

The Current Situation in Pakistan

The Current Situation in Pakistan

Monday, April 1, 2019

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.

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

Thursday, March 7, 2019

By: Jacob Stokes; Jennifer Staats

The latest India-Pakistan crisis has put China in a difficult position, as it tries to balance its relationships with both countries, while helping to stave off a conflict and demonstrate its ability to manage and resolve crises. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to leaders in both Pakistan and India last week, urging them to practice restraint and find a way to deescalate the situation. Despite Pakistan’s request for China to play a more active role, competing priorities constrained the degree to which Beijing could lead—highlighting a chronic challenge for Chinese diplomacy in South Asia. China’s decision to keep a low profile is likely deliberate and in keeping with longstanding practice, but it is inconsistent with Beijing’s aspirations to lead in Asian crisis diplomacy.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Amb. Richard Olson on the India-Pakistan Crisis

Amb. Richard Olson on the India-Pakistan Crisis

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

By: Richard Olson

Last week, tensions between India and Pakistan—sparked by a suicide attack claimed by a Pakistan-based terrorist group—put the world on notice. “The United States has reached a point where it believes that the militants operating out of Pakistan are … a threat, not just to India and to Afghanistan and our forces in Afghanistan, but … a threat to the long-term stability of the Pakistani state,” says Richard Olson, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications