Civilian Control and Democratic Transition: Pakistan's Unequal Equation

Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU), Research Report No. 2

38 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2016

See all articles by Siegfried Wolf

Siegfried Wolf

South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF)

Date Written: April 1, 2013


Civilian control of the armed forces is a sine qua non for democratic consolidation. In Pakistan, since its existence, the military played an eminent role in all spheres of socio-economic and political life. In this context it is stated by several analysts that the soldiers are mainly responsible for the country’s setbacks on its path to democratic consolidation. The main argument made is that the military top brass, through either formal or informal interventions, were able to avoid the institutionalization of civilian control. Civilian control is understood as the distribution of decision-making power between civilians and the armed forces. This report sheds light on the successes and failures in the efforts of civilian governments to establish supremacy over the country’s armed forces in order to consolidate democratic rule. The analysis derives from a conceptualization of civilian control that distinguishes five areas of political decision-making: elite-recruitment, public policy, internal security, national defence, and internal security. In order to establish control in these various areas civilians have a choice between different strategies for which they need certain resources. In this context, the study shows that civil-military relations in Pakistan have tended to be affected by historical legacies, leading to the emergence of military dominance which undermined the civilian supremacy and affected the quality of democracy.

Keywords: Pakistan, Military, Constitution, Amendment, Civil-Military Relations, Democracy, Civilian-Control

JEL Classification: H50, H56, F50, H10, H11, H70, N40, N45

Suggested Citation

Wolf, Siegfried, Civilian Control and Democratic Transition: Pakistan's Unequal Equation (April 1, 2013). Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU), Research Report No. 2. Available at SSRN:

Siegfried Wolf (Contact Author)

South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) ( email )

Avenue des Arts 19
Brussels, 1210

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