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What Do the Generals Want? A ‘Smart Coup’

Posted by yourpakistan on December 27, 2011


The GHQ seems to have at least three immediate priorities: the generals want the memogate to be investigated in order to expose breaches over national security; they want US-Pakistan relationship to be renegotiated, and they want the economy to grow because economic growth ensures internal security and is also a prerequisite to the growth in the defence budget. 

Farrukh Saleem

The PPP leadership—for reasons best known to the it—has little or no interest in getting to the bottom of the memogate quagmire. Prime Minister Gilani is convinced that the memogate is a “non-issue”. Secondly, the PPP seems bent upon using the US as leverage against its own generals. And, on the economic front, it’s now becoming quite apparent that the PPP simply lacks the capacity to turn things around or even plug the rapid liquidation.

There is evidence that the army is coming out of its barracks. The de facto division of power in our current model of the governance is between and among the army, the executive and the judiciary while the de jure model has three branches—the executive, the judicial and the legislature. From August 1947 up until July 2007, there were only two centres of power—the Army and the political parties. Over the past four years, the judicial branch, along with the executive and the army, has become the third centre of power (the legislature continues to be in deep hibernation). 

The single most significant change in Pakistan’s power dynamics has been a GHQ looking up to the Supreme Court—instead of ordering the 111th Infantry Brigade—for dispute resolution. There is evidence that the Supreme Court, this time around, is in no mood to grant an ex post facto validation to a coup d’Ètat.

On December 22, the Chief of Army Staff, while visiting forward posts in Mohamand and Kurram Agencies, said that “irrespective of all other considerations, there can be no compromise on national security.” The affidavit submitted by COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani states: “That the memo episode has an impact on national security (paragraph 11).” The Supreme Court may indeed be taking centre-stage, but the GHQ has a history of developing scenarios and maintaining contingency plans.

There is circumstantial evidence that one such contingency plan could be a ‘smart coup’. The coup d’Ètat of 1958, Operation Fair Play in 1977 and the coup d’Ètat of 1999 were all sudden and illegal. A ‘smart coup’, on the other hand, will be slow and legal whereby all or most of the critical elements of the state apparatus will be replaced by forces that can help GHQ achieve its national security plus economic agenda.

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