Securing the Insecure National Security Council

Islamic republic of Pakistan though posing important geo- political or geo-strategically Position in the South Asian region, some how possess a very strange kind of internal political scenario with in its own parameters. In more than 5 decades of military cum civilian democratic war neither side gain momentum in terms of eternal sovereignty over nation’s economic, political, social and security sectors. Besides that nation building remains a difficult task in Pakistan due to frequent or undesired coup d’etat. Although there’s always involved the noble cause behind this excessive military intervention in civilian lobby, still the exit side of army remains concealed as long as the latest reforms exclusively made by sovereign army are not established, introduced or implemented as constitutional measures across the county.

At last the much awaited National Security Council was inaugurated by President Musharaff on Thursday June 24, 2003 at Islamabad amid much controversy and walk out by the opposition leaders. Although it was called to highlight the root cause of dilapidated law & order situation specially in sectarian killings in Karachi & anti Al-Qaeda operation on Afghan border. But its authentication or legitimacy over the parliament at large remains silhouetted.

However, its formation as a consultative body to perform advisory services to the government and parliament over national security issues does not enjoy general consensus with in or outside parliament. Opposition is of the opinion that with the emergence of National Security Council President becomes more strengthen as legislative body or raise greater influence in the matter’s of parliament.

Especially under the current democratic vis-à-vis military political clutches where Pakistan possess strange kind of governmental set-up where the head of the govt. somehow is neither completely involved in political administrative lobby nor enjoys the smooth ride of military Generalship. Therefore heading the National Security Council by the General cum President Musharaff is raising doubts like the establishment of democracy in the future that may gives an open invitation or rather formalize a role of army in the democratic set-up of the country. The controversial issue therefore is the superiority of the military president over the parliament as long as General Musharaff continues to ride on two tracks at the same time i.e. army and civilian democratic lobby.

Although, it is decided by the president to step down as army chief by December 31, 2004 but the million dollar question is of establishing the trust among the political parties of opposite side. Opposition leader belonging to MMA the leading religious party, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman believes “NSC will be a parallel and superior body to the parliament as long as the president remains in uniform.” As, in more than five decades of political history of Pakistan, country had experienced prolonged military intervention when ever and wherever the entry is provided to army in the name of securing the security of nation as a whole. Opposition alliances firmly believe that with the execution of NSC Army’s role in the civilian politics will be legitimately & legally formalized.

From the president point of view, NSC is the main body to impose check and balance over the president rather than dedicating vague powers to his Excellency. In his opinion it is a platform that provides major interaction between civilian political lobby and senior commanders of army to avert the desire of imposing Army as extra-judicial measures and frequent coup d’etat. "If there is threat to Pakistan it is from (the) internal security environment," said President Pervaiz Musharaff.

The issue of NSC is not new in the political history of Pakistan. Not long ago when President Farooq Leghari announced the formation of ten members “National & Defence Security Council” to provide advisory council to govt. on security & economic issues consisting top notch political as well as military serving chiefs, critics predicted that power may transfer from premier to president, therefore labeled the presence of council unconstitutional and unnecessary.

NSC’s politics has never been very pretty or progressive in Pakistan. Maintaining National Security Council’s credibility with accountability agenda remain the main hurdle in council’s proceedings.

The National Security Council (NSC) is headed by the President of Pakistan Gen. Musharaff that consist other high profile dignitaries from forces to political personalities across the board. Logically speaking if the NSC body consist large number of democracy devotees from present political arena, on the other hand it not less dominated by the military hegemony. Therefore to carry dual governing body it is likely to create fuss on security.

Examine the properties of NSC, it is mentioned in the bill to advise the president to dissolve the national assembly, and that I believe dedicates president enormous power to exercise, while hanging the sword of domicile over the parliament sovereignty. Under the parliamentary form of democracy decision making power resides with the leader of the majority in parliament but with the presence of NSC violation may occur due to the untimely or undesired interference of the President.

Now the question remain un-attended that, if President believes he had restored democracy with the creation of parliament then he must assure the establishment of democratic state of affairs under which the power to dissolve the assemblies rested with the prime minister. From this point of view mainstream political parties will employ all the necessary measures to repeal this council.

I think with the presence of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other existing channels providing essential recommendations over security relate issues, NSC is less needed. Need is to sharpen up the speed of already made security service providers, rather than over loading pressure on economic & political sphere.

Its a fact that due to excess interference of military vis-à-vis democracy, security may crippled from international scene. At the same time one may not deny the security risk factor lying on political grounds. Politicians or the so-called people’s representatives cannot avoid the reality of involving military from time to time to save democratic administrative setup from corruption or nepotism. But In most of the cases, once entered with non-exit option of army, besides providing the security factor to withhold administrative institutions starts playing with the constitution because they are aware that the constitution is the only option to legalize their formal and eternal position in power.

Indeed, National Security Council provides an un-invited bridge between military and diplomatic state of civilian govt. affairs. Consultancy is a vital organ of democratization process enjoyed solely by the parliament then why the need arise for another separate organ of security consultation? However, military can perform the task of maintaining national security services without penetrating in the parliamentary affairs. Therefore, there’s no need of military involvement or having another separate council out of democratic process.

The quest for political stability is a decade’s old dream to Pakistani nation, if at one side internal political environment is under control to pave way to economic and political sovereignty, and then external forces are enough to create menace to secure nation’s integrity and security. On the contrary if foreign forces take back seat to initiate destructive policy towards national security then internal political cum social destructive forces are enough to raise security issues.

It seems Pakistan has had difficulty in establishing stable, effective civilian political institutions dichotomies from armed forces. Not gaining experience from historical perspective where governments were frequently shifted from political system to Martial Law, where constitution has suffered severe damages in terms of personal cum favorable long lasting gains, securing national security remains un-attended.

In my opinion, before creating an administrative, legislative, or advisory council; politicians, military personnel’s, national security advisors and policy makers first and foremost realize or revive the true comprehension of the real nature of national security, no one in my opinion would be ever able to provide national security unless the security providers themselves are nor secure, unless peaceful smooth political pavement is not initiated or provided to implement the policy regarding national security. The problem with the origin of National Security Council headed by Gen cum President Musharaff is its lack of establish policy due to unstable government establishment alienated via partially democratic and mainly military origin. Unless govt. do not employ measures to secure or separate the original civilian democratic administrative lobby from military interaction with strong internal security set-up, national security in terms of external security remain idle.

It is not important for the poor people, what constitutional position or destruction National Security Council carries with in itself? What is more important for them is the security of liberal & secure political-cum-economic environment.

As long as democracy vis-à-vis dictatorship issue is not resolved internal security remains stagnant. For consistency or continuity in the execution of NSC, Govt. has to secure itself first and to secure governments position securing will of millions of peoples is equally important. Qaumi Tahaffuz or National security lies in people’s personal, political & economic security. How come NSC brings security due to the extreme tension between govt. & opposition over NSC itself? Neither party is in mood to withdraw from its position i.e. either to reject openly NSC’s mandate or to accepts its position. With the presence of political cum power imbroglio, both the parties are accountable before nation, if security is not ensured at first place.

Where Jinnah’s Pakistan is heading cannot be illustrated in words, but what kind of destruction it could make in the economic, political and social circles can easily be depicted. Neither Army nor democracy is in its original status that further exasperates internal and external security measures besides providing stumbling blocks to economic and political development of the nation.