Lahore School of Economics

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Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan and the United States

Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi, Professor Emeritus (University of the Punjab) and Defense Analyst


Four major sets of factors influence civil-military relations, including military take-over in a country. External environment is one of the factors. The experience of a large number of countries that have experienced expanded role of the military shows that the decisive factors are internal and domestic. External factor may encourage or discourage a particular kind of disposition of the military. This may help the military to take over or deter it from doing so. Much depends on how other factors impact the context within which civilian authorities and military top brass function.

Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities maintain multifaceted relations with the United States. These include economic, social development and technological assistance, different types of civilian and military exchange programmes, military aid and sales, security affairs consultations, military training programmes, cooperation for countering terrorism, bilateral aid and loans and economic and technical assistance through international financial institutions.

This relationship gives varying degrees of influence to the U.S. in Pakistan. Economic and technical assistance and military sales and aid give leverage to the U.S. that modifies Pakistan’s priorities in foreign policy and domestic affairs. The military values the relationship with the U.S. and the European states for high technology weapons and equipment.

However, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that any of four coups in Pakistan was undertaken by the Pakistan military on the behest of the U.S. The military’s professional and corporate interests and the domestic contextual factors played the decisive role. The U.S. adopted a disposition towards the military regimes keeping in view its interests in and around Pakistan.

The U.S. adopted a friendly and cooperative relationship with the military regimes of General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf from 1980 onwards and 2001-2002 onwards respectively in order to pursue its agenda against Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 and advance its counter terrorism agenda in Afghanistan from 2001 onwards. Further, given the importance of the region around Pakistan for the U.S., it will cultivate good working relations with any stable government, civil or military. It may express its displeasure on any military take-over in Pakistan in the future and may invoke the provisions of Foreign Assistance Act to suspend economic assistance and military sales. However, what determines its policy towards any military government in Pakistan are the stability of the regime and U.S. strategic interests at a particular point of time.

About the presenter:

Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi is an Independent Political Analyst and Professor Emeritus, Political Science, Punjab University, Lahore. He holds M.A. and PhD in International Relations/Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania USA and M.Phil. in Politics from the University of Leeds, UK. He has taught at Columbia University, New York, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington D.C., Heidelberg University, Germany, and the University of the Punjab, Lahore. He has extensive published work to his credit.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/04/2014 03:00:00 PM,

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