The Pakistan Army faces a rising domestic backlash, but the
public relations disaster could provide a rare and overdue chance to
mend broken civil-military relations, analysts say.
Four days after US Navy SEALs swooped deep into Pakistani
territory to carry out a daring, 40-minute raid that killed Osama
bin Laden, the Pakistan Army is facing a rising domestic backlash.
Observers normally reluctant to criticize the military - this
country's most powerful and popular institution - are now publicly
asking why Pakistan's main intelligence agency apparently had no
knowledge of Mr. bin Laden's presence and why the military appeared
to be caught unaware of the US raid.
But the public relations disaster the Army has suffered could
provide a rare and overdue chance to mend broken civil-military
relations, analysts say.
"This is a golden opportunity," says Ayesha Siddiqa, author of
"Military Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military." "We're seeing a period
we've never had before. It's something comparable to 1971," she
says, referring to the year Pakistan lost its second war to India,
which resulted in the capture of 90,000 prisoners of war and the
secession of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). That, in turn, paved
the way for the arrival of a powerful civilian ruler in Zulfiqar Ali
"What we might see happen [now] is people raising their voices
[in protest] and the president using that to say Pakistan is
interested in change," says Ms. Siddiqa. That includes greater
oversight by the civilian government over intelligence and
appointments. "What I want to see is now is greater transparency and
accountability from the Army," adds Siddiqa.
Until now, Pakistan's Army has enjoyed almost unfettered control.
No civilian oversight is required in making or renewing high-level
appointments, including experts observe, the extension of ISI Chief
Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha's tenure in March.
The Army oversees the country's defense and foreign policy and
maintains a major stake in industries, agriculture, and land
holdings. It even has its own brand of breakfast cereal.
Then there is the matter of its budget, which citizens are
starting to question. Officially, the Army receives some 22 percent
of the budget, though analysts estimate the actual figure to be
Promises to investigate
On Thursday, in the wake of a growing backlash among Pakistan's
citizens, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired a high-
level meeting of his commanders. …