IN the past year or so, different American think tanks and research organizations have been trying to evaluate the future of the Pakistan military, an organization that is critical in the war against terror. Globally, governments are keen to know and predict what kind of management and which ideology will shape the thinking and planning of the officer cadre of Pakistan’s armed forces. The questions asked from anyone who has done some work on Pakistan’s military relate to the future stars of the military and their social background. Such research, as indicated earlier, is linked with the concern that a nuclear-weapons equipped military must not go the route it had traversed under its former army chief, General Ziaul Haq. There is also the understanding that a large number of junior and middle-ranking officers, as opposed to the higher ranks, have become ideologically conservative, even bordering on being sympathetic to the Talibaan. But is this assessment correct? More important, what is the future of Pakistan’s armed forces in terms of the dominant ideology, capabilities, and political ambitions?
The more important factor is the mediocrity in planning and generalship, a problem that has been the military’s fate for very long. The lack of capacity in planning also emanates from the fact that the army, which is the largest service of the armed forces, allocates less time on professional work and more on power politics. Thus the claim that the military is professional hardly means anything considering that successive generals have launched military misadventures to win wars and battles.
The military’s continued involvement in politics has another downside as well – it would further erode professional management at the top. The service chief, especially from the army, is selected on political grounds. In any case, it is a rarity for the selection of service chiefs, especially the army chief, to be based on the principle of seniority. Such problems influence the military’s performance and professionalism in the long run. So, despite the claims by the present army chief, General Ashfaq Kiyani, that the military can face any challenges, the organisation’s capability to counter internal and external threats remains limited.