Agent Provocateur PILDAT (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency) organised a briefing session this week by members of delegation from Pakistan, which included some MPs and academics, who had recently undertaken a study visit to Germany to learn about the German model of civil-military relations and democratic control on the defence sector. The comparisons revealed that the differences were indeed stark and did not compare with Pakistan because the objective conditions are also very different. Germany is not faced, as we are, with multiple internal and external threats to its security which we do. As an interesting aside, it was also pointed out that while the German army was greatly reduced in numbers after World War II, we increased ours after losing half the country in 1971. The Pakistan army, as an institution, is very strong. It is a club whose members, by and large, are above divides like ethnicity, language, social and sectarian. What is more is that they also have a system of recognising and promoting merit. Barring the Ziaul Haq period in which hypocrisy seeped into this institution when the Annual Confidential Reports added a column for religious practices and beliefs, the army fosters unity within its ranks. It is actually the unifying practices of this institution, which should be made essential case studies for our present and aspiring parliamentarians if they are to dominate this institution. As the term 'troika reveals, military participation, overt or covert, cannot be wished away in our every day affairs. We have abdicated our right to directing our foreign and defence policies, as there is not enough emphasis on training in policy formation for those whom we elect. Mr Sartaj Aziz, Pakistans former Finance and Foreign Minister says: The army will accept the supremacy of elected civilian leaders in interpreting national interests and in laying down the broad parameters of defence and foreign policies only if there is an effective mechanism for developing a national security system. For this purpose, the National Security Council set up by General Musharraf in 2004 must be replaced by the new Cabinet Committee on Defence and National Security chaired by the Prime Minister. General Musharrafs Council included the Prime Minister, Senate Chairman, Speaker Parliament, Leader of the Opposition, four Chief Ministers, four Service Chiefs, but not the Ministers for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior or Finance. The purpose of this Council was to institutionalise military control over the political system, rather than deal with actual security issues. This serious lacuna in the system must be addressed as early as possible to give the democratically elected leadership its legitimate role in formulating the main parameters of national security policies. One essential prerequisite for establishing civilian supremacy is adherence to genuine democratic principles and respect for the rule of law. As Stephen P. Cohen has pointed out: Armys professionalism may contribute to intervention in politics if civilian authority decays. This time around though, even though records reveal that the majority of our MPs are non-serious about their performance or in their will to bring about substantial changes for the betterment of their electorate, the army remains focused on non (covert) interference in the affairs of the government. The onus of whether they can remain as uninvolved lies squarely with the present set of political leaders, as well as their ability to comprehend and diffuse potentially volatile situations. One also wonders if there is any planning underway within the government on how to handle revolt and anarchy, should economic problems lead to that, particularly, in the light of the continuous domino effect that Tunisias Jasmine Revolution is having on many countries of the Islamic world. The way forward in Pakistans own context of civil-military relations, as suggested by Shahid Hamid, a member of the study visit delegation to Germany, is the need for a balance of trust. The military will have to accept the political leadership and refrain from interfering in political affairs. Simultaneously, Hamid suggested, the government and Parliament will have to accommodate, on an institutionalised basis, the militarys role in the formulation of policies relating to defence and national security and accept responsibility for decisions taken and policies made. The government and Parliament will also have to refrain from any attempt at micro-management in military affairs and instead focus on ex-post accountability. Postscript: Islamabad recently hosted a very successful Fashion Week for the first time and established itself firmly on the countrys fashion map too, in step and at par with the other major cities which have successfully celebrated fashion weeks. Tariq Amin, who was behind the idea, will now head yet another Fashion Council. Despite huge talent in the country in the fashion industry, the multi-presence of Fashion Councils is very much in the mould of the many, many variations of the Muslim League that our landscape is dotted with. And just as all efforts at bringing the Muslim League under one joint umbrella keep failing, I fear so too will efforts to have one all-inclusive Fashion Council in Pakistan. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: