Pakistan’s military-Islam link – OpEd – Eurasia Review
Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, rose to prominence on the international stage – again for embarrassing reasons. A viral video has resurfaced in which he effectively spells the end of his already anemic liberal image. Addressing the National Assembly of Pakistan in June 2020, Khan is seen dubbing Osama Bin Laden a “martyr”. “I will never forget how embarrassed we Pakistanis were when the Americans entered Abbottabad and killed Osama bin Laden, martyred him,” he recalls sympathetically. In a half-hearted attempt to limit the damage to public relations, Pakistan’s Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the prime minister had “slipped”. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, meanwhile, behaved strangely. “I’m going to let this go,” he said murmured grimly, after a brief pause, when asked if Bin Laden was a martyr.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, the government is desperate to get off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gray list and is worried about international support to revive its economy. This is why he is courting the United States, the EU and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, due to the structural limitations of the Pakistani praetorian system, it is forced to take an anti-Western stance. These restrictions inherent in any civilian government can be traced to the genesis of the Pakistani state. Hamza Alavi – one of Pakistan’s foremost Marxist thinkers – argued that the post-colonial state is not the preserve of the dominant owning class within the social formation. Instead, the state apparatus itself, composed of a civil bureaucracy and an army, inherits the power of the outgoing colonial ruler, the latter having endowed this apparatus with coercive means to subdue all classes of social formation, including the dominant ones.
According to Alavi, the colonial impact resulted in the emergence of three dominant classes – the indigenous bourgeoisie, the metropolitan bourgeoisie and the landowner classes – none of which had indisputable control over the postcolonial state. Due to the “foreign” nature of the colonial state and the weaknesses of the domestic possessing classes, the former assumes an “overdeveloped”, almost Bonapartist, function in which “rival interests are mediated by the state”. As a result, the overdeveloped postcolonial state assumes relative autonomy, as state institutions and managers, such as bureaucrats, military, etc., acquire the capacity to appropriate an increased share of the surplus, while at the same time acting to reproduce, peripheral capitalist social formation with its dependence on the metropolis.
However, the semi-independence of the postcolonial state does not mean that it is not anchored in any class formation. The social base of the state is ensured by personnel from the middle classes who use their positions of power in civil and military bureaucracies for a form of primitive accumulation commonly referred to as “corruption”. This class dynamic ultimately results in competition between the existing weak bourgeoisie and the rising strata of the middle class on the way to becoming a distinct fraction of the ruling ruling class. In Pakistan, the military-bureaucratic oligarchy has dominated the state since its inception, mediating between the interests of the national owning classes, while ensuring that its own interests reign supreme. The ideological basis for this military hegemony is provided by the overarching narrative of “national security”.
The first Indo-Pakistani war of 1947 laid the foundations for this discourse, culminating in the consolidation of military power. The government has set its priority by allocating around 70% of the estimated federal budget to defense. As the army’s primacy in the socio-symbolic sphere increased, it appropriated even larger chunks of power. This dynamic culminated in the direct government of the military, with General Ayub Khan’s first administration of martial law in 1958. Ayub Khan remained in power until 1969, first as a military ruler and then in as a military ruler turned civilian. General Yahya Khan replaced Ayub Khan in 1969 and ruled until 1971. The 1970s saw the first unbroken civilian rule of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (1971-77). The return to democracy was short-lived as Bhutto’s government was overthrown by military intervention in July 1977.
General Zia-ul-Haq remained in power until his death in 1988. A democratic interlude in the 1990s was followed, again, by a decade of military rule (1999-2008). Throughout this period, the Pakistani military has penetrated the global economy by developing its own business interests. The armed forces operate in the formal, informal and illegal economy. In agriculture, the military operates dairy farms and stud farms, and also distributes agricultural land to its personnel. In the service sector, it operates in several fields such as education, oil and gas, private security, banking, insurance and airlines. In the manufacturing sector, the military has businesses that produce basic products such as fertilizers, cement and grains. The military has an undeniable presence in business through its subsidiaries as well as individual members of the military fraternity, whether serving or retired. The net worth of the military’s business empire thus amounts to billions of dollars.
As Pakistan’s demand had been articulated on behalf of Muslims on the subcontinent and in the context of a state structure dominated by certain demographic groups (mainly Punjab and Urdu speaking Indian migrants), Islam became an ideological idiom. important for the military. antidemocratic maneuvers by the oligarchy in the face of pressure from ethno-nationalist movements, workers and students. In “Elite Politics in an Ideological State: The Case of Pakistan,” Asaf Husain writes: “The army-state relationship conceptualizes a dialectical relationship between Islam, Pakistan and the military. Without Islam, Pakistan could not have existed; without Pakistan, the army could not exist; and without the army, Islam and Pakistan would be threatened. By perpetuating such a state, the military perpetuated Islam. Hence, Islamic ideology has become an ingrained feature of the Pakistani power arrangement.
Pakistan’s military regime has been substantially supported by foreign aid from the United States. After the partition of India in 1947 and the creation of Pakistan, the center of imperialism shifted from the British bourgeoisie to that of the United States, which sought to use Pakistan as a frontline state during the Cold War. . However, US imperialism could not count on Pakistani civilian politicians because of their weakness in relation to the increasingly politicized masses and the latter’s struggles for a deeper democracy, even socialism. Civilian regimes (1947-1954) were unable to stop popular uprisings despite savage repression involving the arrests of the Pakistan Communist Party leadership in the 1951 Rawalpindi plot case and, in 1954, the ban of the party and its fronts, including progressive writers. (PWA) and the Democratic Federation of Students (DSF).
The ruling classes in Pakistan feared that the Communists could turn these uprisings into a widespread and sustained movement against the architectures of exploitation. As a result, as in many other newly independent countries, the nascent American Empire began to build on and strengthen the military, which became its mode of intervention with the 1958 coup. Marshal Khan built Pakistan’s economy on a model of modernization inspired by the United States, and cultivated close diplomatic relations with American rulers in the early years of his rule. The United States’ penchant for the military was again reflected in the downfall of Bhutto, a staunch supporter of the Non-Aligned Movement, which quickly became unpopular with the Americans. General Zia’s brutal military dictatorship received international legitimacy when the United States decided he was an invaluable ally in their anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan.
Finally, General Musharraf was also a beneficiary of imperialism; his military takeover of the civilian regime in 1999 earned him international opprobrium (Pakistan was expelled from the Commonwealth) but regained legitimacy when the United States turned to him for help in his “war. against terrorism ”. For Pakistan’s Islamist army, the post 9/11 world has done little to deter the United States. In fact, it brought the Americans – their aid, their international support, and their military presence. He favored a military regime to the detriment of a democratic regime. This apparently contradictory development is explained by the harmless nature of political Islam practiced by the Pakistani military. In the words by Samir Amin, “The local comprador bourgeoisies, the nouveau riche, beneficiaries of the current imperialist globalization, generously support political Islam.
“The latter has renounced an anti-imperialist perspective and substituted for it an” anti-Western “position (almost” anti-Christian “), which obviously only leads the companies concerned into an impasse and therefore does not constitute an obstacle to the deployment of imperialist control over the world system. With continued international support for this pro-imperialist form of Islamism, the balance of power in Pakistan has remained tilted towards the military. The current PTI administration first attempted to shatter the tegument of praetorian Islamism by combining Pakistani nationalism with elements of anti-corruption campaigns, morality and technocracy – integral to the socio-political aspirations of the class interlocutors. party average. However, the mighty army quickly disciplined Khan, forcing him to adopt his current twisted and conservative rhetoric.