Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Ahmed Rashid explains Pakistan: The military isn’t plotting a coup, but it won’t give up its economic stake and privileges

His take makes sense to me. So I am less worried by the prospect of a military coup, but no less concerned about the general drift of Pakistan. Since the 1950s every political crisis Pakistan has faced has been a result of civilians trying to wrest power and control from the military. This crisis is ...

FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images
FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images
FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images

His take makes sense to me. So I am less worried by the prospect of a military coup, but no less concerned about the general drift of Pakistan.

Since the 1950s every political crisis Pakistan has faced has been a result of civilians trying to wrest power and control from the military. This crisis is no different except for one important aspect - the military has no intention of seizing power. Instead it has allied with the Supreme Court in an attempt to get rid of a government that is widely perceived to be corrupt and irresponsible.

But in an era when hope of democracy is spreading through the Arab Muslim world and powerful armies in countries such as Thailand and Turkey have learnt to live under civilian control, Pakistan is an ongoing tragedy. Its military refuses to give up power, its huge stake in the economy and its privileges, while its politicians refuse to govern wisely or honestly and decline to carry out basic economic reforms such as taxing themselves.

His take makes sense to me. So I am less worried by the prospect of a military coup, but no less concerned about the general drift of Pakistan.

Since the 1950s every political crisis Pakistan has faced has been a result of civilians trying to wrest power and control from the military. This crisis is no different except for one important aspect – the military has no intention of seizing power. Instead it has allied with the Supreme Court in an attempt to get rid of a government that is widely perceived to be corrupt and irresponsible.

But in an era when hope of democracy is spreading through the Arab Muslim world and powerful armies in countries such as Thailand and Turkey have learnt to live under civilian control, Pakistan is an ongoing tragedy. Its military refuses to give up power, its huge stake in the economy and its privileges, while its politicians refuse to govern wisely or honestly and decline to carry out basic economic reforms such as taxing themselves.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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