Since Pakistan’s inception in 1947, there has been a constant battle to construct a stable democracy. Its lengthy political history is largely a result of the nation’s inability to construct democratic institutions and create stable state-society interactions. The nation has had a tough time with democracy despite choosing a system based on the Westminster model of constitutional and parliamentary democracy. With just a few short periods of democratic administration, the military has often been in charge of politics. Because of this, it is widely believed that the army in Pakistan “while states have armies, the army has a state,” utilizing its authority to keep the government under control. Even though there are a number of democratic institutions present, including the administration, judiciary, and legislature, they are all ultimately under the military’s authority. When opposition parties put out a no-confidence resolution in the administration of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the National Assembly in 2022, Pakistan’s present political mess was set in motion. The military has always been able to interfere in the democratic process whenever it sees fit in Pakistan due to the military’s grip over the government. This not only erodes the legitimacy of elected leaders but also fosters distrust between the populace and the government.
A number of crises that resulted from the no-confidence vote against the former prime minister and chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf in 2022 significantly impacted national and provincial government. Beyond Islamabad, the impact of the motion was seen when Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to step down in favor of PTI supporter Pervaiz Elahi, further escalating the political unrest. These incidents set off a wave of unease that is still present today, with Mahmood Khan, the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, also facing a vote of no confidence from opposition parties in the province legislature. The PTI tabled a resolution of no-confidence against their own Prime Minister, thus complicating the issue and making it worse. The stability of the nation and the whole region is seriously impacted by the political unrest in Pakistan. The lack of a sound democratic system and the inability to create solid institutions have made the nation susceptible to political upheaval. People’s worries about the country’s future and their doubts about the government’s capacity to solve issues have both grown as a result of the present scenario.
Reclamation of POK:
Undoubtedly, Pakistan is in a chaotic and unpredictable state, particularly in light of Imran Khan’s removal from office last year. Some think that India has a chance to intervene and retake Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as a result of the unstable situation. Although the scenario is uncertain, India may not be able to use it as an opportunity to retake Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India won’t engage in such foolishness. Catastrophic results would result from such an event. Now, even if India merely fires one bullet over the border, the Pakistani army would have the ideal pretext to formally impose emergency rule over the civilian population. India will not fall into this chasm. If followed honestly by Pakistani political forces, this trend might result in the reduction of the army’s role, which is in India’s best interests. Such a thing would not be desired by the army. Rather of outright banning Imran Khan’s party, they will rather to manipulate his election loss.
Effects of a militarized political environment
In Pakistan, the military’s meddling in political matters has always been a problem. Since its independence in 1947, the nation has spent around half of its history under the control of military rulers. Concerns regarding the military’s involvement in politics and its effects on democratic institutions have been highlighted by the present political crisis in Pakistan, which resulted in the incarceration of the former prime minister Imran Khan. The detention of Khan has sparked questions about Pakistan’s legal system. The Army now has a disproportionate amount of influence on political leadership, electoral procedures, and state institutions. As a consequence, a garrison state that is primarily focused on security has been created. Imran Khan’s most recent detention is simply the most recent example of Pakistan’s continuous political unrest. Political instability has always been a hallmark of Pakistan’s armed political system, therefore this problem is not new. This has intensified in a country that is enmeshed in a pervasive and evil political narrative. The army’s misrule today and its repression of democracy are similar to fascism. This instability has an effect on more than just Pakistan; it raises issues for the politics of the whole region of South Asia. One instance that feeds into the extreme political aspirations of this evil narrative is the situation in Kashmir. Due to a power imbalance caused by Pakistan’s militarization of its democratic system, the military now has disproportionate control over political decision-making. Political volatility is becoming the rule rather than the exception, as a result of this.
Pakistan’s militarized politics present risks
The fact that the military holds disproportionate power over political leadership, state institutions, and the electoral system has consistently harmed democracy throughout time. Even the former commander of the Army, Qamar Bajwa, publicly recognized this. Imran Khan’s constant criticism of the military establishment, which was well received by the public, endangered the interests of the strong Pakistani Army and broke its highly revered image as a holy institution. Dr. Mohamad Waseem Malla, a political analyst and research fellow at the International Centre for Peace Studies (ICPS), claims that Imran Khan’s current detention marks a continuation of the Army’s political involvement paradigm to the general people. The military establishment, on the other hand, views it as a necessary counterattack to maintain its dominance and safeguard its interests—especially in light of the previous prime minister’s harsh criticism of top army officers. There is a chance of a protracted military-civilian conflict if the Army, acting via the surrogate civilian administration, keeps suppressing public demonstrations and prevents the Supreme Court from providing the former prime minister with relief. He decided that this was made possible by Khan’s followers’ dedication. However, if this might put the military even more on the defensive and force it to give up part of its authority, it may be a big step toward the consolidation of democracy in the nation. Due to Pakistan’s strategic significance, this is also not good news for the rest of South Asia and Pakistan. Given its interconnections, whatever that begins in Pakistan will never be contained to its boundaries and will ultimately have an impact on the region. Therefore, it is crucial to preserve Pakistan’s stability and to strive toward minimizing the military’s influence in politics so that civilian institutions may function freely and with accountability.
Democracy Is Essential to Preserving Peace in South Asia
To keep South Asia at peace, Pakistan must remain stable. The governance system, in which an elected government controls power rather than the military or establishment, is closely related to the stability of the nation. Because the military or establishment controls an unstable Pakistan, there may be a rise in militant organizations and their operations. Many extremist outfits call Pakistan their home country. The leaders of these organizations will have free reign to sow terror across South Asia, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, if the nation becomes unstable. India and Pakistan have been at odds over this region for many years, and terrorist activity there has the potential to worsen relations between the two nations. In order to keep Pakistan stable, a democratically elected government is necessary. A democratically elected government will be more powerful diplomatically and be better equipped to interact with other nations. Pakistan’s military, which is more powerful than the government there, would have less influence over international affairs. This implies that the politics and administration of the nation will be more under the hands of a democratically elected government. A democratically elected government in Pakistan is essential for India. India has always been the main target of terrorism coming from Pakistan. Numerous extremist organisations in Pakistan have recently been held accountable as a result of India’s persistent diplomatic pressure.
The extremist organizations can be kept in control and bilateral ties can be strengthened if Pakistan is stable and has a democratically elected government. A democratically elected Pakistani government will make sure that the nation is successfully run and will benefit the stability of the surrounding area. A stable and peaceful South Asia is in the best interests of both India and Pakistan. The protection of all people’ rights and the maintenance of the rule of law will be ensured by these robust democratic institutions and an independent judiciary. However, unless its military stops meddling in politics and stops using the civil governments and their leaders as puppets, that stability won’t happen. Because of the army’s unstoppable force and willful determination to surpass the law, animosity against it has increased more than ever in recent years. With two states moving in different ways, no nation can succeed. The deep state of Pakistan must make a commitment to upholding the law and abstain from using political scheming and manipulation. The army has a duty to protect the nation’s interests and avoid projecting the image of an unreliable state that may at any point go rogue since the country possesses a lot of nuclear bombs. Allowing civil governments to operate and not imposing their will on the populace is sensible. Therefore, it is essential that democracy thrives and that citizens be treated with respect. Any coup attempt must be rebuffed in the sake of development and peace.