Pakistan army is one of the most acclaimed institutions in the world for combating domestic and foreign intrusions. In his magnum opus work “Overdevelopment of Institutions” Hamza Alvi a well-renowned sociologist of Pakistani origin asserted that the Post-Colonial setup of the institutional hierarchy favored Pakistan’s armed forces to expand with more intensity than the other institutions. The overdevelopment of the Institution put it a crucial strategic factor to shape the destiny of Pakistan. At the oust of Pakistan’s inception, the Fault-Lines in the leadership and mismanagement of the Muslim League leaders to not develop the wider section of the political figures in the polity of Pakistan aided the other sections of institutions particularly armed forces to empower at the exponential levels. After the first major Indo-Pakistan conflict on the issue of Kashmir, the armed forces in an aggressive tone started taking the civil institutions on the board by considering that the political sections lack Political Wisdom.
With time, the stage was set for the broad military intervention in the civil institutional setup of the society. The exploration of General Ayub Khan and subsequent military leaders like Yahiya Khan and General Zia ul Haq compromised the democratic principles of the society. This was the first stage in which the military involvement in the civil setup due to the underdevelopment of the civilian institutions and the overdevelopment of the armed forces became the part and parcel of the Pakistani praetorian Democracy.
Moving forward time disapproved of direct military intervention because such adventure of the militaristic institution caused a direct conflict between the efficient institutions with the civil society. In stage two after the 1990s the military institution got an evolution in the thought process. Institutions started to think seriously about the absolute hold of the institutions. Stage two allowed them to juxtapose the hybrid system in which they compromised to some extent with the civilian leadership and started to make a coalition with the representatives. General Musharraf initiated the Enlightenment Era but still, Praetorian Democratic principles prevailed. A praetorian polity is such in which the military shapes the institutional setup of the society with the presence of the representatives. Between stage 1 and stage 2, the evolution of GHQ was to consider that direct adventure and absolute one-in-one roles should be combated.
The 21st Century changed the dynamics of armed forces with more inclination towards the consideration of the civilian stakeholders in state affairs. Stage 3 happened when General Musharraf ended his Era of so-called Enlightenment. In this stage, Rawalpindi evolved further and decided to never intervene or hold absolutist perspectives of the civilian institutions. After the 18th Amendment, the true transition from authoritarianism to democratic norms prevailed in the struggling polity of Pakistan.
After stage 3 the role of the military became minimalist. They restricted them to intervene in the representative government just to make favorable laws and budgetary processes. Their role was curtailed from direct hold to intervention for executive changes. The transition from stage 3 to stage 4 is recently discerned from the statements of the ISPR that the military has decided to not intervene in the political discourse of the state after February 2022. Stage 4 evolved the armed forces from the level of “Leviathan” to “Minimalistic Stakeholders “in the political system of the state. This is in the theory. Let’s see how the future shapes Islamabad and Rawalpindi for the 22 million ordinary Pakistanis.
It is time to end the Praetorian Democracy and a mature transition toward Representative Democracy must prevail in the state of affairs for democratic and constitutional maturity. Tides of democracy are strong in the 21st Century due to the overdevelopment of digital media and stakeholders in the social world. The leadership either civilians or military are more interested in the wishes of people than the whims and fancies of their respective interests.