An interesting new legislation has recently been passed in the Pakistan National Assembly. This law proposes to create a China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority that would essentially take control of the billion dollar CPEC away from the civilian bureaucracy to the Pakistan Army.
Most democracies would have a virtual army of bureaucrats and auditors to handle such a project. But not in Pakistan, where the creation of an army-run supranational authority is in line with other actions, which have put the country so close to army rule that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference.
Policy makers in India and elsewhere, long used to the Pakistani ‘military establishment’, would normally shrug their shoulders and hope for the best. But there’s a difference this time round. All of this is being powered by Chinese money. Which means that Beijing has just bought itself an army, with a State attached.
Governance and bureaucracy
At one level, it is true that near continuous military dominance has led to army men, both serving and retired, being co-opted into comfortable posts in Pakistan’s bureaucracy. However, even democratically elected leaders like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did not scruple to use lateral induction to appoint army men to some 83 posts at various levels. Zia-ul-Haq went a step further, creating a Defence Services Selection Board to bring in pliant service officers into his government. Under General Pervez Musharraf, the ‘National Reconstruction Bureau’ route brought in officers at every level, with the general presumption that the average military officer was better than his civilian counterpart.
But the Imran Khan government has outstripped all others in filling civilian posts with military officers. A recent report highlights the control of the military over the civilian government — the Pakistan International Airlines is headed by an Air Marshal