If Pakistani Govt. Orders Our Surrender, Will The Military Comply?

Posted by Shireen M. Mazari on Oct 1st, 2010

If Pakistani Govt. Orders Our Surrender, Will The Military Comply?

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  • ‘Sovereign Guarantees’ vs. Sovereignty
  • Will the Pakistani military exercise self-defense and respond to NATO attack?
  • NATO has no mandate in Afghanistan, only ISAF does


It is said Pakistan is ignoring direct US military attacks and border violations because of sovereign commitments to the US made by the Musharraf government and now the Zardari government. But should the Pakistani military comply with those?


Wednesday, 29 September 2010.
The Nation.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—How far is the Pakistani state prepared to go to undermining its national sovereignty and the safety of the lives of its citizens? Since 2004 mainly innocent Pakistani citizens have been killed by US drone strikes inside Pakistan. This is beyond the list of those Pakistanis handed over to the US in renditions by the Musharraf government, the most high profile being Dr. Aafia. The claim that she was not handed over but was whisked away by US covert operatives reflects even more badly on that state of our security establishment – that they cannot protect their own citizens in their own country from being kidnapped by foreign agencies!

Coming back to the drones, the advent of Obama to the Presidency led to an immediate upsurge of drone attacks, and as the US has always maintained, these attacks have the permission and cooperation of the Pakistan civilian leadership and its military. As a result, despite a national consensus against these drones, they continue to kill Pakistanis and the government continues with its lies to the people on this issue. This month, September, has seen the highest number of drone attacks for any month since the attacks began in 2004, with 20 strikes recorded so far and the month is not yet over.

Accompanying the drone attacks has been the growing presence of US overt and covert operatives across the length and breadth of Pakistan. This includes not only US Special Forces personnel, but also CIA, FBI operatives and the worse of the lot – the private contractors DynCorp and Xe (formerly Blackwater) aided and abetted by Pakistani mercenaries. And, not a squeak of protest from Pakistani officialdom. It is as if the whole state machinery has become an amalgam of mercenaries selling out Pakistan and its people.

The argument from the present political government is that they are merely implementing the sovereign guarantees given by the Musharraf regime to the US, but this is not plausible because the same government has also been claiming it is undoing the dictatorial legacies of the Musharraf government. In any case, how can this democratically elected government abide by sovereign guarantees to allow the killing of its own people? This is not to deny the presence of militants and even terrorists but they must be dealt with by our own people and under the law of the land. The state and government cannot abdicate their own responsibility towards its citizens – especially not a democratic government that has come to power – as they never tire of telling us these days – by a mandate from the people.

Worse still is, killing someone simply on suspicion of being a potential militant. But then the President’s remarks on the collateral damage being done by drones, as cited in Bob Woodward’s book, Obama’s Wars, says it all for the current political dispensation.


As for the military, its justification of not protecting its citizens and territory against attacks by the US military in the form of drone attacks is even more absurd – that they are simply following orders of the civilian government. What instructions were they following in Musharraf’s times? In any case, this country sacrifices a lot to sustain a heavy defense budget so that its armed forces are given the best of everything. But in return they expect this military to defend its borders and its citizens from external military attacks – not to support them and turn on its own people under external diktat.

The armed forces may argue that they act on the directions of the federal government as directed under Article 245 of the Constitution which states: “The armed forces shall, under the directions of the federal government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war …”

So the questions that arise for us citizens are:

  1. If the federal government tells the armed forces to allow foreign aggression against the country, will the armed forces comply? Is that what is happening right now?
  2. Can the federal government legally take such a step? If so, who will defend the country against foreign aggression in the final analysis?

Incidentally, while many of us naively assumed the armed forces took an oath to defend Pakistan and its territory from its enemies and so on, when one sees the actual oath of the armed forces in Schedule III of the Constitution, it says nothing of the sort at all – they take an oath to defend the Constitution of Pakistan and not to indulge in any political activity – but nowhere are the words defense of territory or people in the oath!

Frankly, after examining Article 245 and the armed forces oath, as a citizen of Pakistan I do not feel as secure as I thought I was because tomorrow if the federal government orders the military to hand over our defense to an external power and even our nuclear assets, where will we be?

These issues are critical now, because with the complicity of the Pakistani state, the US drone attacks are not the only external aggression we are now facing. NATO has decided to target Pakistanis in our own territory and their helicopter gunships have been having an open season on the FATA people. Some whimpering from the Pakistani state has been heard but we still have to wait and see whether our defense forces will defend our borders against this expansion of external military aggression against Pakistan and its people.

Ironically, NATO has defended its forays into Pakistan as “right of self-defense”, while the Pakistanis seem to have no such right on their own territory!

To confuse the issue, NATO is using the reference of ISAF and a UN mandate, when we all know that ISAF is not NATO and that NATO forcibly grabbed the ISAF UN mandate. The question of its legitimacy in the context of Afghanistan is critical because it has been expanding its mandate and operational milieu ever since the end of bipolarity.

So, why should there be an issue of its legitimacy within the context of Afghanistan? Because it is an out-of-area operation. NATO still remains, in legal terms, a collective defense organization in terms of its legitimacy through the UN system – under Chapter VIII, Articles 52 and 53, as well as Chapter VII’s notion of collective self-defense as embodied in Article 51, which provides a very clear and limited framework for collective defense organizations. Regional collective defense organizations need to operate in the specific region of their membership since decision-making is restricted to this membership. Given the continuing European-Atlantic membership of NATO, it is somewhat disturbing to see NATO transforming itself from a collective defense organization (Article 5 of the NATO Charter is surely in the context of collective defense?) to a collective security organization to serve the interests of its membership or perhaps future “coalitions of the willing”. There is no legitimacy for any collective security organization other than the UN with its universal membership.

Even within the context of regional organizations, actions have to have a UN mandate and this is where the case of Afghanistan is unclear. Post-9/11, the UN Security Council, through Resolution 1386 (December 2001), sanctioned the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan. As stipulated in the Bonn Agreement of December 2001, the progressive expansion of the ISAF to other urban centers and other areas beyond Kabul was duly approved through follow-on UNSC resolutions.

So, where did NATO get into ISAF? Did the UNSC initiate NATO’s involvement or did NATO present a fait accompli to the UN Secretary General?

What is available on record is that NATO informed the UN Secretary General, through a letter dated October 2, 2003, from its Secretary General that on August 11, 2003, NATO had assumed “strategic command, control and coordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).” This was followed by another letter from the NATO Secretary General to the UN SG informing the latter of the North Atlantic Council’s agreement on a “longer-term strategy for NATO in its International Assistance Force (ISAF) role in Afghanistan.”

Both these letters were sent to the President of the UNSC by the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on October 7 with the request that they be brought to the attention of the UNSC. So, effectively NATO presented the UNSC with a fait accompli – which is why its presence in Afghanistan is legally questionable.

Meanwhile, for Pakistan the basic question that its civil and military leaders must answer is: How far will the state compromise the safety of its people and its own sovereignty to fulfill the so-called “sovereign guarantees” to the US?


This column was originally published by The Nation. Reach Dr.Mazari at

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7 Responses for “If Pakistani Govt. Orders Our Surrender, Will The Military Comply?”

  1. sazmat says:

    How on earth people of Pakistan would know who’s right or wrong.
    One thing i must say that army is not in a position to defend or offend
    on both borders (East & West ) against the enemies of collosol
    magnitude. However, people have every right to
    question their elected representatives in our assemblies to answer
    these security and war on terror related concerns.
    How long before it’s too late for someone to come up and satisfy
    masses legitimate concerns.

    Our 90 million youths are too busy indulging into hollywood and
    bollywood hallucination which in reality keep them away from our
    countries affairs that meant to be their number one priority as their
    future is hinging upon this country’s well being.

    • GoodGestures says:

      @ sazmat: disagree on para 1 and agree on para 2, remember of Gazwa-e-Badr, (only if you believe, and when I say believe MEANS TRUELY BELIEVE in ALLAH!!!), dont say these are stories of past or battles of swords, it is about our link to Allah and our passion to give our lives in his way, this was valid 1400 years ago, this is valid today, this shall be valid tomorrow!. no USA, india or israel matter when you become “azzab of Allah” for them, and dont say that there is “elected” government, this is fool’s paradise and those whp believe in democracy. even in its original form are fooling themselves let alone the no 10 type of democracy that is being operated by enemies of Islam in Pakistan…

  2. Sad you felt it right to remove my comment. I had put finger at the right spot? Not acceptable? No solution to our problems then. Yes?

  3. K. Hussan Zia says:

    Mrs. Shireen Mazari has raised important issues in her article about sovereignty. NATO’s war in Afghanistan has been going on for ten long years with no end in sight. The open season in FATA has cost thousands of precious Pakistani lives and given rise to extreme anger and bitterness that is putting an unbearable strain on the unity and stability of the country and adversely affecting morale and discipline in the army. The war has so far cost Pakistan anywhere from 43 to 68 billion dollars and bankrupted the economy. We also know that if NATO succeeds it will install an unfriendly regime in Afghanistan.

    Knowing all this, for the government to claim that it has no option but to uphold the sovereign guarantees given by Musharraf is little short of imbecility if not lunacy. There is an even more basic point: is any individual entitled to give an external power the right to undertake military operations inside Pakistan knowing that it will involve the killing of large numbers of innocent civilians and do terminal harm to the nation? It is a test for the media and its Pundits to keep the issue alive until such time that the gutless wonders, who are our so-called leaders, are obliged to act in the best national interest and not that of a foreign power.

  4. Is PPPP workers and peasants party which the name of the party suggest? NO. Infact it is a party of very powerful land owning groupe of tyrants. Zardari is a joke and so is Nawaz Sharif etc. It is the Pak army ( Air Force and Navy included ) which obeys and disregards Pakistan’s Westren laws. Its spritual home is Sandhurst. And Sandhurst is an Westren Imperial institution. Sandhurst works with USA military forces . Thus Pakistan military’s sway to USA natural. Its record has never shown national intrest. In 48 it stood by while India took Kashmir. Indeed the Kashmiri and Pakistan’s Trible fighters are the one who librated Azad Kashmir. Particularly the fighters from Poonch and Waziristans. Pakistan army’s record is that Liaqat Ali Khan was murderd on its ground. After that it has killed thousands of Pakistanis in East Pakistan and helped to give birth to Bangla Desh. It has killed thousands of Pakistanis in Balochistan during Z. A Bhutto’s rule, thousands in Sindh during Zia’s rule, thousands during Mush bin Bush’s rule and now apart from itself it is allowing the Zionist controlled USA to kill at randome as many Pakistanis as it wants by air and by the use of mercenaries inside the geographic area of Pakistan
    This is the only army in the world that uses defence funds to inrich the high officials’ personal pockets. It is the only army which by force buys up land from small farmers near its basses. Its the only army that takes over lage chunks of expensive urban areas and gets involved in propety swindles. Its the only army wich insults its fellow citizen wayfarers as it passes by in it show of strength gun rides.
    Its the only army that is involved in smuggling. Its the only army that allowes its fishing waters to be fished empty by EU fishing fleet for the sake of few coins. And the list goes on.
    Oaths taken when appointed mean where little as we have seen many times. Pakistan …it is vry clear has lost its Sovereignty already..Zionist Jew Richard Halbrook is the Voiceroy of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Zardari and Karzai are but mere governers. Prime Minister or Opposition leaders not even paper tigers.
    Yes if asked by the pupet government or ordered by USA or UK embassies to surnder Pakistan to Zionist West Pakistan army will lay down their arms in the same way as they did they in East Pakistan not very long ago.
    The reason THIS does not happen because it has been said by some wise Westren persons that if they were to take away this vaneer of soverignty from Pakistanis there will be such a bloodshed in Pakistan the like of which has never been seen. Yes not even in Vietnam or Iraq. And Zionist controlled West does not want to spend money on arms and armies where there is no profit.

  5. Harriss Khan says:

    This is the oath of armed forces of pakistan as per third schedule of the constitution……………………..

    (In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.)
    I, ____________, do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and uphold the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which embodies the will of the people, that I will not engage myself in any political activities whatsoever and that I will honestly and faithfully serve Pakistan in the Pakistan Army (or Navy or Air Force) as required by and under the law.

    May Allah Almighty help and guide me (A’meen).

    ***Now miss.shreen mazarrii point is that it says nothing about defending pakistan. in the first line it says “do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan”. I believe that the word “Allegiance(loyalty)” shall spaeks for all sorts of defence in accordance to pakistan. Shreen mazari is totally wrong in this context because when you are loyal to something then accordingly you sacrifise even your life for it and exactly our men have been doing it to prove this….

  6. a m malik says:

    We are generally aware that Zardai fellow is not a by product of Democracy- a fashionable word to grind when it suits the selected – but that of the CIA. Once PPP came to have the majority MNA and only after the departure of Musharraf that he unfolded his expanded role. Otherwise even after the elections it was that Amin Fahim would be the PM and Musharraf as the President! So the rantlings that he is a democratically fellow – is all non sense. His ppp fellows had already given their undated resignations prior the award of the PPP ticket. And had no choice. MQM was already their baby and Asfand yar was given a trip to USA i.e to an army unit- he was a changed man there after. There must be something magical about the visits there.
    In so far the Xe, Dyna corps, CIA etc operating in Pakistan- they must have been employed on the defence of the Presidential palace and the PM house, against an Army foray. So to protect their interests Zardari and his cronies are allowing every thing in the world and proverbially will not mind to “sell their mothers as well”.

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