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The political system of Pakistan has been suffering instability since its creation in 1947. Civil-Military relations have always remained disproportioned causing a constant transition between military rule and the government of political parties. The power of military has lasted very long either by military ruling directly or by controlling politicians from behind the scene. It has always been on the heavier side and is blamed for meddling in political process of the country. Military has been perceived as an institution that makes decisions and brings the faces of its own choice to the corridors of power. Many politicians have been charged of seeking its help to gain power and thus, termed as a product of Martial Law Regime and Military rule. Nawaz Sharif, a big political figure and leader of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), one of Pakistan’s two biggest parties, has also been alleged to flourish under a military dictator, General Zia ul Haq. He is also accused of maintaining a close relationship with military establishment, seeking its help to dominate the political process of the country. In this essay, I will discuss how the relationship of Nawaz Shreef and Military Establishment has varied over time focusing on Zia ul Haq regime, Kargill issue and Pervaiz Musharraf’s Military coup and then present situation where it has seemingly changed from Pro-Military Establishment to Anti-Military Establishment.  
Nawaz Shareef, a businessman turned politician and a lawyer by profession, entered politics under Zia-ul-Haq regime in 1981 as the finance minister and then ninth chief minister of Punjab in 1985. He has been twice in the office of Prime Minister of Pakistan from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 to 12 October 1999. Finally he was exiled to Saudi Arabia after Musharraf’s Military coup and returned to the country in 2007 at orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan after eight years of exile. Political career of Nawaz Shareef mainly consists of three phases which include:
1.      (1981-96)
2.      Tense Civil-Military Relations  (1997-99)
3.      Return from exile

Nawaz as Military’s Favorite (1982-96):
Nawaz’s entry into the political arena and his beginning of political career has always been criticized by his opponents for being under a Military Dictator. Zia-ul-Haq who has come into power by dismissing Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government in 1977 and finally hanging him in 1979, was concerned aboutthe hold of feudal landlords over the political scenario of Pakistan and needed leaders from the urban industrial and mercantile class to be counterparts of those landlords. At this stage, this deficiency was filled up by the then Governor of Punjab, Lt. Gen (r) Ghulam Jilani by introducing Nawaz Shareef to the politics as the new face representing the mercantile urban class. As Aminulah Chaudry talks that “ Like most senior officers , Lt. Gen. Ghulam Jilani Khan imagined that he had a ready solution for most of Pakistan’s political woes. He was firmly convinced that if feudal influence was eliminated from politics, all would be well. In May 1980, soon after he became Governor and Martial Law Administrator of Punjab, he initiated a talent hunt for an emancipated and progressive urban leadership. It was Lt. Gen. Iqbal and brig. Qayyum who first came up with the name of Mian Nawaz Shareef, a Lahore industrialist”. Unlike the landlords and big political figures of the country at that time, Nawaz Shareef did not have a proper support base in the country. The army helped him in securing a political platform across a big area of GT road belt. Later on he was elevated to the office of Chief Minister of Punjab and had a successful period during 1985-90. Lt. Gen. Jilani Khan groomed Nawaz Shareef with affection and care because he was aware of the feudal lobby against him. Nawaz Shareef was made Chief Minister on the nomination of Governor Jilani against the wishes of the then Prime Minister Junejo, who preferred a rural candidate, Malik Allahyar. Another factor for the Military backing of Nawaz Shareef was the growing difference between Gen. Zia and Prime Minister Junejo who was from the Pakistan Muslim League which was patronized during Zia’s regime. Two men had drifted apart because of Junejo’s stance on early settlement of Afghan issue and All Parties Conference on this issue conveyed by Junejo without taking in confidence Gen. Zia. So, Zia after the dissolution of Junejo’s government, started to favor Mian Nawaz Shareef and “as former Prime Minister Junejo became more outspoken against the dissolution, Zia began to cultivate Nawaz Shareef from the Punjab to organize a rival Muslim League.”
Since the independence of Pakistan, Army has been playing a very important role in politics and this role has been strengthened because of a number of factors. Political parties are not so well organized, they have unskilled and untrained leadership, party structure revolves around personalities and is not efficiently systemized. Whereas, Army in contrast to this is very well organized institution, has a systemized framework and application of its policies is more efficient. Therefore, politicians have always been seeking its help in governance and maintaining the power. It has always been called for the help of civilian government often for maintaining law and order situation, administrative purposes and other natural catastrophic events. But this relation has always been imbalanced and Army has acted as the supreme power instead of being sub-ordinate or a partner as Dr. Tariq Masood says: “Manifesto less politics, fragile party structure and pseudo-political coworkers, force the political leaders either to subordinate or confront the establishment for politics or governance instead of reciprocal, honorable, reliable and fruitful institutional working relationship to perform their charter of duties according to the constitution, laws and rules of business.”
Nawaz Shareef also had this thing very clear in mind and he openly admitted to follow and support the ideology of General Zia-ul-Haq. The speech he made in Aug 1996 about Zia-ul-Haq is still quoted by his opponents against him in which he appreciated Gen. Zia and termed him as ‘Mujahid’( Holy fighter) prayed for him to rest in heavens and to follow him in his footsteps and fulfill his mission. The legacy of that era is still with Nawaz Shareef and he is labeled as a product of Zia-ul-Haq and Martial Law regime. President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, in his speech made at Naudero on 21 June, 2011 called Nawaz Shareef as remains of Zia-ul-Haq and that Nawaz politics of Zia’s time.
Gen. Zia had stood by Nawaz Shareef through all the ordeals he faced from feudal landlords or his other opponents during his stay in the office of Chief Minister of Punjab until Gen. Zia died in an air crash in 1988. This was the time when Benazir Bhutto came to Pakistan and was gaining support in the public masses. As a result of this Nawaz Shareef came under pressure and in order to pass through this turmoil, he again looked towards the organization that introduced him to politics, the Military. In the general elections of 1988, army used the political role of ISI in an attempt to barricade the way of Benazir Bhutto to the office of Prime Minister and to counterbalance the expected victory of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The ISI united Pakistan Muslim League and other right wing politicians to come up with an alliance named as Islami Jamhuri Ittehad (IJI) whom Nawaz Shareef was also a member. As Hasan Askari writes that the ISI remained associated with the IJI election campaign and helped to coin anti-PPP slogans. Army again was helping Nawaz Shareef in the elections of 1990 when it allegedly distributed Rs. 140 million among the candidates of IJI and other opponents of PPP which included Nawaz Shareef as well. Although the case is still in the Supreme Court of the Country that Nawaz Shareef received money from ISI or not but opponents always accuse him. Whereas, Nawaz Shareef has always denied these charges and recently in Aug, 2009 his party stated that all this scandal was to undermine Nawaz’s popularity and to bar him from filing a case against Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf.
IJI won the elections of 1990 and Nawaz Shareef entered office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Nawaz Shareef had feelings of respect and gratitude for the Army during his first tenure as Prime Minister because it was the Military that introduced him to politics in 1982 and later on helped him to climb the office of Prime Minister in 1990 by helping the election campaign of IJI. He managed to maintain friendly ties with the top Military leadership and continued to enjoy their support. Army Chief of that time, Gen. Mirza Aslam Baig openly and severely criticized and opposed the Nawaz Government’s pro-US approach during the Gulf war of 1991 but Prime Minister did not reprimand the General nor did he made any attempt to get control over the Military. Moreover he posed himself a supporter of Military by allotting considerable amount of resources to army and let the army officers enjoy many perks and privileges. Despite all the efforts made by Nawaz Shareef to be at ease with the Military, Civil-Military relations started to get strained on the issue of unrest in Sindh, meddling of Prime Minister in postings and transfers of Military officers and government’s foreign policy.
The deteriorating condition of law and order was a major challenge for the Shareef government as it was setting a wave of unrest throughout the country. To overcome this situation and maintain peace of the province, army agreed for a Military Operation, ‘Operation Clean-up’ in May, 1992 in rural Sindh. This operation was mainly devised by Nawaz Government to target the stronghold of its big opposition, Pakistan People’s Party and when army realized that this rural operation area is going to do no good to the law and order situation, they decided to take the operation to the urban areas of the province after Major Kaleem-ud-Din kidnapping case, who was made hostage by the workers of Mutahidda Qoumi Movement (MQM), an ally of Nawaz government. This was a main point in worsening of Nawaz’s relations with Military as some cabinet members openly expressed their resentment and anger towards military policy for taking measures against MQM workers and supposedly cleaning them up as well in ‘Operation Clean-up’. Army was getting angry over the statements made by political leaders from Shareef’s cabinet directly targeting it and the civil-military relations were getting tenser. Nawaz tried to pacify the situation and disown the statements against Military made by his cabinet Ministers but now the damage was done and Gen. Asif Nawaz Janjua in a Corps’ Commanders meeting in late 1992 mentioned that government was trying ‘to corrupt the army’.
Another factor responsible for the discomfort between the Military and the Government was Nawaz government’s inability to affectively handle the foreign policy. US had imposed sanctions on Pakistan in lieu of its nuclear program and Military wanted the government to devise a diplomatic solution for this problem which it failed and army was displeased. After the sudden death of Gen. Janjua, Nawaz Shareef faced confrontations with the President ghulam Ishaq Khan on the issue of appointment of new army chief who appointed Gen. Abdul Waheed Kakar instead of Shareef’s preferred Corps Commander Lahore, Lt. Gen. Ashraf. Nawaz Shareef retaliated to this decision by going public against the President and announced to amend the constitution to take away discretionary powers from the President. The conflict between President and Nawaz Shareef continued when President dismissed Shareef’s government and was later restored by the Supreme Court and finally army again had to play its role but no not in favor of Nawaz Shareef rather to force both Shareef and President Ishaq to quit their offices. Civil-Military relations between Military and Nawaz got tense because of events mentioned above during his tenure as Prime Minister and he was sent home by the same institution that brought him in power.

Changed Approach of Nawaz (1997-99):
The general elections of February 1997 impacted a lot the political career and attitude of Nawaz Shareef as he won the elections with an overwhelming majority and secured heavy mandate with a very little opposition against him in the parliament. Now he wanted to grasp most of the powers in his hands ignoring the other members of Troika and state institutions. He engineered many constitutional amendments to strengthen his grip over powers. Two important were 13th and 14th amendments which took away the powers of president to dissolve the national assembly, gave Prime Minister an important part in appointment of service chiefs and gave party leaders more powers at the expense of party members respectively. He developed serious issues with President Farooq Khan Lagari and Chief Justice Sajjad Ali shah and both were eventually forced to quit their offices. Army remained neutral during all this and did not side with either party. Nawaz Shareef was very careful in maintain good ties with Military as he consulted Gen. Jahangir Karamat on passing of 13th amendment and before asking the Naval Chief to resign because of corruption charges. But after easing out both president and Chief Justice, the next institution Nawaz wanted to gain control of was Military. “Having sacked by the Chief of the Amry Staff-General Waheed Kakar in the midst of his first tenure, Nawaz Shareef had made up his mind to clip the wings of the army at the first opportunity”.This thing happened not very late when General Jahangir Karamat made a controversial speech at Naval Staff College in which he proposed setting up a national security council and suggested some ways to improve the governance of country. Nawaz Shareef viewed this thing as meddling of Army Chief in politics and demanded his resignation in October 1998 and to the shock of every one, Gen. Karamat agreed to resign three months before his retirement. The way Army Chief resigned “caused great resentment in the army, as soldiers and officers alike felt humiliated”. This was the turning point of army’s approach towards Nawaz Shareef and they viewed this act as against the sovereignty of military. Prime Minister used his discretionary powers to appoint new army chief and super ceded two Pakhtoon and one Punjabi Generals and selected a Muhajir. General from Karachi, Pervez Musharraf as new chief thinking that he would prove to be weak as he will not have the support of other Punjabi and Pakhtoon parts of army. But the relationship of Nawaz Shareef soon started to face difficulties when they had a disagreement over sacking of two Maj. Generals, appointment of two LT. Generals and some other minor issues.
The main issue that strained the Civil-Military relations during second tenure of Nawaz Shareef was the Kargil Conflict during May and July of 1999. There was a armed conflict between Pakistan and India in the Kargil district of Kashmir and some other parts along the Line of Control (LOC). Pakistan was supposedly at better position according to Army Chief of that time Gen. Pervaz Muharraf. International pressure of Pakistan was immense during this time for not respecting the international borders and Pakistan was pressurized to take its troops out of the valley. Prime Minister took the stance that the men fighting there were not from the Pakistan army rather they were the freedom fighters of Kashmir. On July 4, Nawaz Sharif went to Washington to negotiate a cease-fire with President Bill Clinton but he was accused of an unconditional surrender instead of negotiations. Pakistan suffered a great loss because of this diplomatic defeat despite of its better position in the war. Public support also went against him and he lost grounds in the masses for huge causalities and strategic losses. Nawaz Shareef later blamed the military for not taking political leadership and Prime Minister in confidence before going to this expedition although Musharraf has repeatedly made claims that Nawaz Shareef was on board during all that time. Nawaz Shareef in order to gain public support wanted to the army chief to accept the responsibility of Kargil conflict and resign although Musharraf had conveyed him message that “I am not Jahangir Karamat”. Army had also made up its mind that this time they will not let Nawaz Shareef to play with the image of army and such efforts would be strongly retaliated. Relationships of Nawaz with the army were once again going through a very tense phase. Shareef was planning one thing and at the same time showing Musharraf that he still wants good relation with the Army Chief by taking him to Mecca in August 1999 for pilgrimage and retiring the Corps Commander Quetta, Lt. Gen. Tariq Pervaiz at the recommendation of Gen. Musharraf. He also gave Musharraf the post of Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee to seek his happiness at a joint lunch by taking him aside and saying that “I am also making you chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Are you happy?” Things kept on working until 12th October 1999 when Pervez Musharraf was returning from Colombo, his flight was not allowed to land at Karachi and was diverted. Nawaz had remover another army chief, Gen. Musharraf and appointed Lt. Gen. Zia-ud-Din Butt as new army chief. But this time, Army did not let him do things and retaliated to his decision by moving the army on grounds and Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmad, commander of the Rawalpindi Corps, took charge of Prime Minister House and took Nawaz Shareef in his custody. Martial Law was again imposed in the country with Sharif government dissolved and Nawaz under arrest. Events happening during the past two years regarding Nawaz-Military relations again led to the sacking of Nawaz Shareef by his own appointed General within a span of one year. Nawaz claimed that this was his constitutional right as Prime Minister of the country to remove and appoint service chief whereas Musharraf referred the coup by Army as a counter-coup by the Military to prevent its solidarity. Nawaz was tried by the Military Government in Anti-Terrorist court on the charges of terrorism, hijacking and attempted murder. Meanwhile friends of Nawaz Shareef in Saudi Royal family worked for him to devise a deal with Musharraf and he was eventually exiled to Saudi Arabia in December, 2000. This was the beginning of his new approach towards the Military; a hostile one.

Exile and Return to Pakistan:
Nawaz Shareef attempted to return from exile on September 10, 2007 but was not allowed to do so and was deported but later on successfully landed at Lahore Airport on 25 November, 2007 claiming that he has come to “save Pakistan and Democracy.” After the elections of February, 2008 his party PML (N) and PPP formed a coalition government but PML (N) soon left the coalition in August 2008 because of the dispute over restoration of judges sacked by Musharraf. Nawaz Shareef, after returning to country had an aggressive approach towards the Military that sent him to exile. Musharraf was forced to resign after public support went against him and Nawaz Shareef repeatedly demanded a high treason case against Musharraf under article 6 of the constitution for extra constitutional steps. Nawaz seems to have not forgotten the coup done by the military against his government and he is constantly trying to put army under pressure because he is aware of the powers of Pakistan military and does not want another martial law neither wants the democracy to be derailed because in any condition all political parties will have to bear loss. Army has always been controlling the major and sensitive issues of the country and democratic government has always acted as puppet in their hands. Army has not performed as partners of the civilian government rather it has been dictating the civilian government over certain issues but now Nawaz wants the opposite and he is strongly trying to put army under civilian control and he has got confidence of criticizing them openly. One event when he openly went against the military was the murder of a journalist, Salem Shahzad, who constantly wrote about the role of Pakistan army and militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and his killing was said to be linked to the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Although army had denied any linkage with his murder but Nawaz Shareef addressing at the conference organized by SAFMA in memory of Salem Shahzad he commented that “There is no sacred cow in the country and none should try to become a sacred cow as (we) won’t allow such an attempt.” He demanded without mentioning but leaving no doubt which institution he was talking about, he demanded them to change their mindset. He also reiterated many times that the army should work under civilian control if the political rulers assign them any task and should be answerable to the democratic government and parliament of the country. On his tour to Turkey, which was apparently seen as to sympathize Turkish government over the devastation by the earthquake but it was also rumored that the basic motive behind this visit was to ‘learn from the Turkish leaders the art of reining in the powerful military.’ Now he seems not to seek the help and assistance of military in his politics and is expressly asking military to stop meddling in political affairs of the country whom he has blamed for helping Imran Khan as his party’s leader of opposition in the parliament, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, blamed in a press conference that ISI had supported the Lahore rally of Imran Khan and furthermore that ‘the ISI’s role under Kayani had remained ‘excellent’ for the first two years – but this role had become dubious once again.’ So, now Nawaz Shareef wants the army to stop playing the role that it had been blamed for playing since the independence and his relationship with military is opposite to what it was back in 1980’s when he embarked his political career.

Nawaz Shareef’s relation with army has undergone a complete change through his political life. At beginning of his politics, he was groomed and patronized by the army and he has also looked towards them for assistance whenever he faced difficulties in politics and Nawaz had respect and gratitude for the institution. Strength of relations started to weaken when he was forced to quit office during his first tenure as Prime Minister by the then Chief of Army Staff and he realized that he must have control over the army as well for a stable government. This was the turning point in his attitude and elections of 1997 made him think that he can actually get that control. Overwhelming majority and huge public support inculcated in him that he was the one whom masses gave the mandate to govern and be in command of all the institution of the state. Due to this approach he came into direct confrontation with the military; an institution that wants no one to meddle in its affairs and does not compromise over its autonomy. Nawaz did not realize this thing and frequently interfered in army’s affairs that led to the dissolution of his government as a result of military coup and eventually he was exiled for a period of seven years. His relations has not been able to get better since he has returned from exiled and he constantly makes statements about limitation of army’s role in different areas, presentation of its budget in the parliament, working of army under civilian control and changing if its mindset which pose him as an anti-military politician of the country now.   
Written By: Nabeel Riaz Sandhu ( LUMS ).

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