Civil-military relations can be defined in terms of a balance between the civilian and military organization and institutions and their internal cohesiveness. Ideally, in an open society, military enjoys the professional autonomy while submitting itself to the political authority. According to present theory of civil military relation, there is complete separation between the civil and the military. In the correct relations, the military plays a subordinate role in the execution of defence and security policies. Civilian decisions are hypothetically accepted as final. Military inputs are asked not forced in the decision or policy making. The most famous case of submitting to the civilian rule was of General MacArthur after the Korean War.

But this submission was also indicative of civil-military tension. Even in the developed democracies, there are instances which show civil-military severances. During the Cuban missile crisis, there was a serious divergence between the Kennedy cabinet and the Pentagon. Each one was blaming the other for having fewer brains. In case of India, during the Brasstacks exercises held in July 1986, Indian Army Chief General Krishnaswamy Sundarji had planned to turn exercise into an operation against Pakistan without the knowledge of the Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. However despite these clashes, the military remains under the civilian control in high politically cultured societies due to public attachment to the civilian way of life denying legitimacy to military action in the public eye.

The reason for military intervention is all too often cited by scholars as political instability. According to Huntington, “The most important causes of the military intervention are not military but political and reflect not the social and organisational characteristics of the military establishment, but the political and institutional structure of the society.” In a low politically cultured societies there is less participation and attachment of the public towards the political institution and government so chances of coup are always more. Military considers national interest as supreme and deems it to be its duty to protect it. It is when the Army starts to draw distinction between national interest and the allegiance to the present government, the chances of intervention increases.

Military takeover is always carried out on the pretext of bad governance and corruption but it is very strange that military regimes too become victim of corruption and eventually collapse. Military interventions are always followed by the announcement that it is for a very short duration but ultimately military falls in love with power. Military junta is considered incapable of dealing with more complex issues of the country. It is unable, to transform its organisational and technological skills to their countries’ setups.

The democratization or civilianisation of polity is a complicated and mysterious situation because it is suffering from the influences of the military regime and their impact on society and social change. Military and bureaucracy become more vulnerable to political influence in the post military state. Similarly, the political parties are most plagued by “Patrimonialism,” which creates factions at all level in the party as soon as it assumes the powers. Political leader try to control these factions through enhancement of their personnel control over the party. The personalisation of party politics compels the factions’ leaders to rely on their loyalty towards the leader rather then numerical strength of the party workers thus alienating the political workers.

Having said that, the after effects of the military era continuously haunt and shape the future policies of the civilian governments who have experienced military intervention. Last but not least we should not forget that democracy might not necessarily be the best political system, but is the best we have.


Islamabad, April 19.