PAKISTAN: Why is General Kiyani dictating Islamic ideology as the basis of the country? 

The General should be prosecuted for betraying his oath as a member of the Armed Forces

Just twenty days before the general elections the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, has come out with a policy statement which gives the political views of the Army. The statement was delivered with the express intention of getting elections results in favour of the fundamentalists, Jihadis and their supporting parties. While addressing the assembled troops at the passing out parade of 127th PMA Long Course, 46th Integrated Course and the first Mujahid Course at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, he said that since Islam was the basis of Pakistan’s creation, it can never be separated from the body politic. He categorically emphasised this point when he said, “Let me remind you that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam can never be taken out of Pakistan. However, Islam should always remain a unifying force. I assure you that regardless of the odds, the Pakistan Army will keep on doing its best towards our common dream for a truly Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.

Kiyani also made an about face when he changed the ‘new doctrine about operational priorities’, (the Green Book), which was issued on January 2 this year. In it the Army described the Taliban and other terrorists as the biggest threat to the country.  For decades the Army has always considered India as its No 1 enemy but growing extremism in the country compelled the military authorities to review its strategy. A new chapter, ‘Sub-conventional warfare’ has been included in the Green Book for the first time.

At this point it is important to note that in the 3rd Chapter of Article 240 of the Constitution it mentions the contents of the oath that every member of the Armed Forces must take. To wit:

“I do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and uphold the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which embodies the will of the people, that I will not engage myself in any political activities whatsoever and that I will honestly and faithfully serve Pakistan in the Pakistan Army (or Navy or Airforce) as required by and under the law.

May Allah Almighty help and guide me (A’meen).”

Therefore, General Kiyani’s speech is nothing less than an admission of his betrayal of this oath by interfering in the politics of the country by dictating to society that they vote for the Islamic parties.

Kiyani’s statement is alarming in that the strongest institution of the country is once again revealing its intentions to enforce the non-secular and extremist forces in the elections. The majority of the political parties, who have always won the confidence of the people through free and fair votes, are secular in their politics and they have different opinions about the ‘Ideology of Pakistan’. In fact, most of them do not consider that Pakistan was created for any particular ideology but was rather created to be a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent. The Islamic religious parties have started saying that Pakistan was created on the basis of Islam 24 years after the creation of the country in 1970 which resulted in the division of the nation.

This is not the first time that whenever general elections are held, the Army comes out with the enforcement of the ‘Ideology of Pakistan’, which they relate with Islamic ideology. In 1969 when General Yahya Khan took over the country after a people’s uprising against the previous dictator he invented the Ideology of Pakistan based on Islamic ideology to patronise the anti-democratic and religious forces who were very much against Pakistan and its founder, Mr. Jinnah, whom they then called an infidel. Interestingly, the General was known to be a lover of strong drink and a rampant womanizer. At that time the country had never seen such a ‘pious’ man and he was very dear to the religious parties. However, all his efforts failed. The secular political parties won with a thumping majority and the religious parties were only able to get 15 out of more than 300 seats.

Another General, Zia-ul-Haq, came into power after throwing out and imprisoning Prime Minister Bhutto in the name of Islam, who he later hung. In the 1985 elections General Zia introduced articles 62 and 63 in the hopes of getting pious and hard line Muslim candidates. In the end all he got were the most corrupt members of his Islamic assemblies. During 1991, the then Chief of Army Staff, General Nawaz Janjua, repeated the same words of Islamic ideology as the basis for the Ideology of Pakistan. The engineered elections were held in which the notorious intelligence agency, the ISI, distributed huge amounts of money and obtained the required election results after expending a huge amount of public funds.

In Kiyani’s speech to the troops he again came out with the threatening call that: “Let it suffice to say that Pakistan is fully capable of responding effectively to any threat, the army chief said, without naming India or any other country. Despite our current focus on internal security, we remain fully prepared to defeat an external direct threat”. (As reported by the Daily Dawn). This was seen as a provocation to the neighbouring countries and nothing less than warmongering particularly at the time of the elections.

It was a clear indication that what Kiyani says for the Ideology of Islam as the basis of Pakistan means that religious minority groups do not have any space in the country as the country was created only for the Muslims. Therefore in the opinion of the military there is nothing available for the different religions.

Another alarming thing for the people of Pakistan was the inclusion of the ‘first Mujahid (holy warriors or Jihadis) course’ at the Pakistan Military Academy. The handouts by the military did not clarify or define the purpose behind the course. Does this now mean that the Army wants to create Mujahideen so that Jihad can be introduced through the soldiers as its old policy of the Cold War era? With whom will these Mujahideen fight? Prior to 2001 the army and military government made it a policy to combat the terrorist who were fighting to enforce Islam through violence to achieve their results. Thousands of people were killed, including 40 thousand soldiers from the forces and allied organizations.

With Islamic ideology as the basis of the country the military must have a hidden agenda for the time when the American forces leave Afghanistan in 2014. Is the intention to have a pro-Pakistan government, like the Taliban of 1994, and is this possible through the creation of the Jihadis? For this reason the military has started a campaign on the Ideology of Pakistan to re-enforce the extremist and fundamentalists and their friends who are contesting the coming elections so that a government can be formed which can always remain under the dictates of the army in the name of the protection of the Ideology of Pakistan?

The statement of General Kiyani is a blatant interference in the election process in order to install a government which will be very religious in its nature. If the religious-based parties do not win the next elections and do not form the government the only conclusion to be drawn is that the Army will not accept the election results. Either that or the Army would force the caretaker government to run the country until the parties inclined towards the Ideology of Pakistan come to power.

The other aspect of declaring Islamic ideology as the basis of Pakistan is to strangle the freedom of expression. For the last five to six years society has enjoyed freedom of expression to a great extent which, of course, would not be a good omen for those institutions who have always enjoyed unfettered power and who might now have to be accountable to a secular parliament.

It is not the function of the Pakistan Army or its commanding officer to dictate to the country as to what the basis of Pakistan is and who has the right to remind the people of it. It is better for democracy and a democratic set up that the politicians should decide the Ideology of Pakistan rather than the military. It is only the people of Pakistan that have the right to choose any person or political group which may or may not follow the Ideology of Pakistan. General Kiyani should concentrate on his sworn duty of defending the country rather than poking his nose into political issues.

Kiyani’s interference in the political affairs of the country must be stopped immediately and he should be prosecuted for his betrayal of the oath he has taken as a member of the Armed Forces of Pakistan.

Document Type : Article
Document ID : AHRC-ART-045-2013
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Democracy, Extrajudicial killings, Freedom of expression, Freedom of religion, Judicial system, Military, Rule of law,