The extension of COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa recalls the memory of the former Army Chief given an extension. Back then, the impetus of such a decision was different than what has been decided now. The scrapping of Article 370 by India against the rights of the Kashmiris, coupled with the afghan peace process which is in its final stage, in tandem with the security aspect of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), further compounds the challenges for Pakistan since the international order is in flux. All of the above depicts that the Commander during war time should not be changed and this is the reason for current COAS extension as well. Nonetheless, such a monumental decision of extension at the highest level, unequivocally, sparks decade-old and recurring debate on the civil-military relations (CMR) in Pakistan.
Unlike its use in mainstream and social media of Pakistan, CMI was a part of reforms agenda undertaken, developed and institutionalized by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in 1990s.
What is unsurprising is that the contours of the aforementioned debate of CMR has remained unaffected. What would be surprising is to how the equation of civil and military power relations can be balanced or so to say ‘integrated’ to meet the 21st century threats. Moreover, another randomly used and misunderstood term often sees light of the day by commentators in Pakistan – civil-military integration (CMI). Yet it is a strategic concept employed by China and other developed states to which our journalists and academic writings remains oblivious.
Rather than divulging into the old debate of CMR, new concepts could be learnt from the Chinese model of civil-military integration (CMI) since it creates more interdependence and understanding of two sides of the same coin especially with regards to the threats of the 21st century.
Unlike its use in mainstream and social media of Pakistan, CMI was a part of reforms agenda undertaken, developed and institutionalized by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in 1990s. The said concept was part of several goals for 2020 agenda for overall modernization of PLA with a strategic imperative.
The CMI as a strategic concept given by China is utterly different from what Pakistani analysts would perceive it to be. The commentators in Pakistan, for decades, have only polarized and sparked controversies regarding CMR – some debating the reasons for military to be a powerful and influential organization while others criticizing it for misuse of power. Although, there might be some truth worth knowing, yet the balance in relations could not get materialized.
CMI can also be referred from scholarly works in the past. Samuel P. Huntington reflects and mirrors the idea of the contours of CMI in his invaluable book arguing, ‘a healthy society must preserve the autonomy of the military while simultaneously integrating it into an important decision-making role.’
Perhaps, Chinese have followed the guideline of Huntington. The CMI encompass three sectors of cooperation from which Pakistan’s CMI can take its basis; military, economics, and technology. It has been furthered by Chinese premier Xi Jinping arguing in favor of deep integration of civilian and military sectors. Therefore, CMI has been raised to a national level strategy in 2015. The idea as a whole has received saturation coverage in China, while remained underexplored elsewhere. Henceforth, one expects that the loosely-used jargon of CMI in Pakistan bears no resemblance with the Chinese version of CMI. Moreover, it has become a new arena of competition between states and arch-rivals.
Pakistan lacks its share of strategic communication and narrative building in the international arena; may it be war on terror (WOT), Afghanistan dilemma or Kashmir quagmire. Our CMI, if any, would be to revolve around the power narrative of CMR or perception management as a whole – if not the exact blue print of CMI.
The goal of CMI is to promote defense science and technological development and brining additional resources more efficiently into defense modernization. The modern-day technology driven warfare has acted as an impetus for Chinese perusal of CMI. The first Gulf War is a clear manifestation of the said fact. Since then, China has been cognizant of the fact that mechanized wars have been transitioned to information wars. 21st century is witnessing it – a controversial organization of Cambridge Analytical is an open secret now. Pakistan lacks its share of strategic communication and narrative building in the international arena; may it be war on terror (WOT), Afghanistan dilemma or Kashmir quagmire. Our CMI, if any, would be to revolve around the power narrative of CMR or perception management as a whole – if not the exact blue print of CMI.
Where the Gulf War motivated Chinese strategic thinking, CMI affected its military modernization and such an integration approach has been adopted as a national security strategy. Technological development and resource allocation have been given strategic attention by PLA. Unlike Pakistan, much has been written on the former in Chinese academic journals. CMI theorist Hou Guangming also noted in his book, ‘…the global revolution in military affairs continually promotes upgrades in high-tech weaponry, and the core of military competition is changing toward science and technology.’ In Pakistan high-tech use is only visibly tangible in defense procurement and production by Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) and Pakistan Ordinance Factories (POF). The presidency in Pakistan has also taken an initiative and launched Presidential Initiative for Artificial Intelligence & Computing (PIAIC), an interdisciplinary hub for education, research and business in Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The military expenditure in Pakistan increased to $12686 Million in 2018 from $11461 million in 2017. It reached an all-time high of $12686 million in 2018 and a record low of $566 million in 1957.
The other dimension of CMI as stated above is resource allocation. This has always been the dilemma of almost every state since meager resources could not meet the ever increasing competition in the field of security and arms race from an adversary. The militaries have to optimally utilize their allocated resources. China faces the same dilemma. The military in Pakistan has always been given limited resources yet in tandem a controversy also sparks CMR around defense budget. The military expenditure in Pakistan increased to $12686 Million in 2018 from $11461 million in 2017. It reached an all-time high of $12686 million in 2018 and a record low of $566 million in 1957.
The unprecedented resource demands under CMI reforms are also one of the facets of modern warfare. This has eventually eliminated the distinction between peacetime development and wartime preparations. The non-traditional threats have rendered gray-zone areas where wars can be waged and managed in a civilian manner while using the technologies of the civil sector and for the civil society as a whole. Annexation of Crimea by Russia is clear example of it. The civil and military sector of Pakistan should understand the underlying evolutionary developments going on in the 21st century and integrate them to overcome the dilemma of resource allocation.
Having discussed the basic contours of CMI, its relevance with ever-controversial CMR is compared and contrasted. Pakistan is now being governed by Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) which adheres to modern day developments both in domestic and international arena when compared with their previous two competitors in the government. The relation of civil and military equation must be integrated in a fashion so as to fight the wars of 21st century threats and progress towards peace.
The extension given to COAS is a positive decision of the government considering the fact that the former used military diplomacy as an effective tool while engaging internationally as well as representing Pakistan on international forums. The inclusion of the commander to National Development Council (NDC), for accelerating economic growth, is another manifestation of the capability, credibility as well as a quasi-depiction of CMI being carried out in Pakistan in its initial stages.
Nonetheless, it is too early to decide whether Pakistan should adopt CMI as a strategic imperative on the technical side like China has adopted. Else, the state should induce CMI in the non-technical domain of strategic communications, narrative building or perception management.
What needed is a healthy academic debate to move away from civil-military relations (CMR) towards civil-military integration (CMI). CMI is a novel concept and can be tailored according to inherent requirements of civil-military power equation.
Syed Ali Hadi is currently pursuing his MPhil in Strategic Studies from National Defence University, Islamabad. He is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research.