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Strategy

Whether or not non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had a strategy of engagement with the military was found to be strongly related to their ability to establish cooperation or dialogue with the military. Table 8.1

Table 8.1 NGO-Military Interaction and Strategy

Interaction

Strategy

Total

No

W.y

No

  • 7
  • 77.78%
  • 2
  • 15.38%
  • 9
  • 40.91%

Yes

  • 2
  • 22.22%
  • 11
  • 84.62%
  • 13
  • 59.09%

Total

  • 9
  • 100.00%
  • 13
  • 100.00%
  • 22
  • 100.00%

Data based on coding of qualitative interviews with non-governmental organisations in the four sample regions; table generated by the author in Stata, N=22.

Pearson chi2(l) = 8.5644; Pr = 0.003.

Likelihood-ratio chi2(l) = 9.0700; Pr = 0.003.

Cramer’s V = 0.6239.

Gamma = 0.9012; ASE = 0.104.

Kendall’s tau-b = 0.6239; ASE = 0.170.

Fisher’s exact = 0.007.

One-sided Fisher’s exact = 0.006.

summarises the link between NGO-military interaction (l=yes, 0=no) and whether NGOs have a strategy in place to engage with the military or not.

The results show that more than half (59.09%) of the analysed organisations have a strategy in place to engage the institution of the military in their work, while 40.91% have not adopted such strategies. This could indicate an association between the adoption of an engagement strategy and civil society organisation (CSO)-military interaction, also confirmed by the 8.56 value of chi2 and the p value. Over 80% of those organisations having a strategy in place to integrate the members of the Pakistan military in their activities were found to interact with the military, suggesting that the existence of a coordinated and planned approach to enter dialogue with the military might be associated with a higher probability of synergy and dialogue. Confirmatory support is also provided for the reciprocal hypothesis, with most organisations without a strategy found to have no interaction with the military. While this might not necessarily tell us that a strategy in place will lead to interaction with the military (as the direction of causality can also be the other way around), it certainly demonstrates that there is a link between non-state organisations having a strategy to co-opt the military and interaction with the military in practice.

Typologies of strategies

The most common strategies of engagement (informally) implemented by civilian organisations are (a) inviting military personnel (active or retired, active rarely attends) to discussions, seminars and other events and (b) maintaining a good reputation. Both types of strategy aim at establishing inclusive policy dialogues and increasing trust relations between civilian and military actors. Some organisations, particularly those operating at a policy level, have databases with contacts from the military, from which they select invitees depending on the topic of discussion. It is mostly retired personnel, ranging from Colonel to Lieutenant General, who joins the discussion. Active personnel, mainly close to retirement, also attend at times. Informal peer or multilateral meetings between active and inactive personnel are believed to represent a channel for the transfer of inputs from retired to an active military level (Interview Participant #17, Senior NGO Representative). The probability of military personnel’s attendance to civilian events is likely to depend on the location of the seminars or conferences. Institutions familiar to the Pakistan military such as the National Defence University or National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) can be more likely to attract armed forces personnel than other event locations, e.g. NGOs’ offices or premises, or hotels. Contacts are carefully maintained both on an informal and, when possible, a formal basis, and in case of unavailability of the first contacted military representative, the procedure continues with the next options on the list. One respondent considered that informal interaction between civilian organisations and the military is worth being envisaged, as it might open a different type of environment (Interview Participant #34, Senior NGO Representative), being more likely to generate dialogue and peer-discussions. In addition, engagement at an informal level might increase institutional pressure and thus the likelihood of having formal interaction, in the form of dialogue or projects. The military is assumed to be more likely to support and follow-up on policy outcomes in whose design they have been involved at a formal or informal level or in relation to which they have otherwise been invited to provide feedback.

The military’s responsivity is found to depend on the calibre of the organisation, its societal and political impact as well as its domestic and/ or international outlook. Perseverance and even insistence from the side of NGOs might be interpreted as an indicator of their commitment and could result in greater rates of cooperation with the military, though military personnel in higher ranks and with a greater level of influence might be more difficult to be approached. The potential of dialogue with the military might also depend on the extent to which the envisaged project could jeopardise the military’s position at a local, regional or international level. A cooperative rather than dissenting approach as well as flexibility in the implementation phase is more likely to get the support of the armed forces, in particular at a grassroots level. The NGO leadership structure might also determine the nature of civil-military interaction. For example, having one retired military personnel in the board of expert advisers can be more likely to facilitate the liaison with the relevant authorities within the institutions of the military (Interview Participants #7, Senior Media Representative, Participant #36, Senior NGO Representative and Participant #44, Senior Military Representative). Contact with an ‘insider’ bears the potential to streamline authorisation processes and to use approaches that avoid conflicts of interest or insurmountable contradictions with the military’s doctrine, thus possibly resulting into greater net coordination with the military headquarter. Formal integration of ex-military personnel into civilian organisations is nonetheless usually avoided by some organisations. They believe that an affiliation with the military might be rejected by both society and government.

Inclusion of the military in NGO projects can decrease the level of information asymmetry by facilitating the estimation of each participant’s policy position. Mutual understanding between stakeholders does not only facilitate dialogue and interaction, but it can also increase the sustainability of decisions by integrating the military’s preferences into the policy outcome resulting from a particular discussion (Interview Participant #2, Senior NGO Representative). This can boost the chances of acceptability and support for that particular policy outcome and promote convergence between NGOs and military agencies. This type of convergence strongly depends on the nature of framing of the conceptual models used by non-state actors in their projects and the link with the Pakistani society. One respondent perceives that foreign-funded NGOs or international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) sometimes generate polarisation within the society through the creation of a “foreign-type” of environment (Interview Participant #2, Senior NGO Representative). This perception might be neutralised if organisations have appropriate strategies in place to adjust their message and impact depending on the needs and demands on the ground. A demand-driven, non-interventionary approach (Interview Participant #5, Senior NGO Representative) is more likely to be accepted by both the military and community actors. Inclusion and integration of the masses can enhance general acceptability. Support for the solutions that emerge from the local level is usually higher than for approaches based on rationales that do not always resonate or are not sufficiently intermingling with the reality on the ground. On the contrary, the operations that do not resonate with the reality on the ground are likely to be met with rejection and opposition and be thus counterproductive. The projects unequivocally “facilitating the people of Pakistan” are more likely to be supported by the military. Compatibility with the general discourse and “mindset of the people” (Interview Participant #23, Senior Academia Representative) will generate a connection with the society, aiding local actors to fulfil their functions as generators of legitimacy and accountability and bridges between polity and society.

Some organisations opt for implementing a strategy of not entering in conflict with the state or military institutions. They aim at maintaining a good reputation by attempting to address their message through refraining from being explicitly critical. Harmonic NGO-military relations are dependent on effective engagement and coordination at an institutional level. While not engaging (military) institutions or officers might not expose NGOs to the risk of coming under scrutiny or getting the label of ‘anti-establishment’, it might also prevent a substantive impact in institutional change, transformation and democratisation. Monitoring, demanding delivery and good governance as well as effective implementation of policies are some main gaps in the administrative apparatus of Pakistan. Addressing these issues requires discussion and debate as well as engaging in conversations with relevant institutions and actors.

Other organisations deliberately work on establishing a good reputation (Interview Participants #5 and #18, Senior NGO Representatives) in order to increase their chances of engagement with the military. While media reporting, (past) project work and network affiliations can be indicators of their commitment, NGOs’ reputation might be assessed through their level of dedication to having a positive and substantive domestic contribution to democracy and security. Rigorous project evaluation and impact assessment are likely to increase transparency of their activities and ultimately facilitate trust. Strong assessment mechanisms enabling an accurate analysis of their impact might enhance the likelihood of cooperation with military institutions. “Few individuals have certainly impressed me by their hard, deep work, sustainable over time”, suggestively told me the ex-military intelligence chief during field research.

Many organisations do not have a strategy in place to enhance dialogue with the military.

136 Determinants of civil-military relations No strategy

Circa 40.9% of the analysed organisations do not have a specific strategy to engage with the military (see Table 8.1). This can be mainly due to three reasons: (a) NGOs consider that the military should initiate dialogue and partnership, due to its higher position of authority, (b) they oppose partnership with the military due to sometimes ontologically different positions on security or (c) they have not thought about working together with the military. First, many local actors consider that dialogue should be initiated by the military: “It is very easy for them to connect with all CSOs, organise a conference on CVE and invite all CSOs, what prevents them from doing this?” (Interview Participant #16, Senior NGO Representative). While military-initiated dialogue occurs with some policy and research think tanks, a public call by the military towards a general formal cooperation with NGOs seems rather unlikely. Second, a couple of organisations consider that a lack of common normative ground between their and military’s philosophies and approaches in terms of security, defence and counterterrorism does genuinely impede partnership. Organisations in this category usually reject collaboration with the military, mainly due to the commitment to different normative understandings and schools of thought. Some organisations might be discouraged to collaborate with the military based on their previous experience. As one respondent said:

I tried and my experience was terrible. They do not agree, they say this is not the right thing, do this. This authoritative mindset does not go with me. (...) Why to connect with them, fundamentally is not the army’s role to tell me what to do.

(Interview Participant #16, Senior NGO Representative).

The military’s support for the groups that are assumed to be linked to terrorist organisations as well as its inability to stop enforced disappearances prevents many organisations from engaging with them. Third, a sub-set of organisations in the analysed sample do not consider that armed forces are relevant for their activities or have never thought about the possibility of coordinating their work with the military before. However, while many organisations consider that the involvement of the military is not relevant for their work (Interview Participant #25, Senior NGO Representative), involving the military and civilian security forces, often in terms of providing security, might boost the safety and effectiveness of civil society’s activities. The lack of interorganisational coordination between civil society actors at both grassroots and political levels represents another major impediment for developing effective strategies for co-opting the military in democrati- sation processes.

Types of strategy or vision towards institutional change

To test how different strategies of institutional change can impact on the likelihood of civil-military interaction, the organisations’ approaches to institutional change were coded into two categories: (1) displacement or layering and (2) drift or conversion (Mahoney and Thelen 2009). Displacement and layering strategies involve the introduction of new rules (i.e. norms, institutions), while drift and conversion do not. Neither drift nor conversion strategies imply the removal of old rules or the introduction of new rules, but instead, the changed enactment or impact of existing norms and institutions. Strategies envisioning ‘some change’ or ‘radical change’ were coded into the category ‘displacement/layering’, while the strategies of organisations not explicitly aiming at change were coded into the category ‘conversion or drift’. The data used for coding were references from the qualitative interviews, corroborated with the data related to the mission statements and projects of the NGOs, available on their websites. The results are shown in Table 8.2.

The results show that the organisations adopting strategies of conver- sion/drift, i.e. not explicitly envisaging change - although some of them are working on political development - are approximately five times more likely to engage with the military than the organisations explicitly advocating change, sometimes, through more radical reforms. Estimated 80% of the organisations refraining from having an explicit position towards change

Table 8.2 NGO-Military Interaction and Vision towards Institutional Change

Interaction

Strategy towards Change

Total

No Explicit Change Envisioned

Some Change!Radical Change

No

  • 3
  • 20.00%
  • 6
  • 85.71%
  • 9
  • 40.91%

Yes

  • 12
  • 80.00%
  • 1
  • 14.29%
  • 13
  • 59.09%

Total

  • 15
  • 100.00%
  • 7
  • 100.00%
  • 22
  • 100.00%

Data based on coded references from the expert interviews, corroborated with the data related to the mission statements and projects of the non-governmental organisations, available on their websites; table generated by the author in Stata, N=25.

Pearson chi2(l) = 8.5260; Pr = 0.004.

Likelihood-ratio chi2(l) = 9.0134; Pr = 0.003.

Cramer’s V = -0.6225.

Gamma = -0.9200; ASE = 0.097.

Kendall’s tau-b = -0.6225; ASE = 0.167.

Fisher’s exact = 0.007.

One-sided Fisher’s exact = 0.007.

are found to have interaction with the military, in contrast to only 20% of those groups explicitly advocating ‘some’ or ‘radical’ change. The vast majority (ca. 86%) of organisations advocating change failed to have interaction with the military. These results suggest that civilian actors adopting the strategies of institutional change of‘displacement’ or ‘layering’ might be less likely to have interaction with the military than actors adopting strategies of‘conversion’ or ‘drift’. In substantive terms, this means that actors aiming explicitly at the institutionalisation of the values they propagate could be less likely to enter collaboration with the military. While it might seem impossible to achieve institutional change without the processes of institutionalisation, the data suggest that this is not the case. The moderate processes of ‘conversion’, or ‘drifting’ do not involve the elimination, but eventually the transformation of old norms and principles, being thus more acceptable at a domestic level than more radical forms of change such as ‘displacement’. Supporting the existing theoretical observations related to the process of institutional change presented in Chapter 2, the research finds that change can occur as a by-product and does not necessarily have to “emerge from actors with [explicit] transformational motives” (Mahoney and Thelen 2009: 22-3). Being “too overzealous” (Interview Participant #5, Senior NGO Representative) about transformation might be counterproductive. “Changing] social [and institutional] norms gradually and through careful policy rather than shock therapy” (Interview Participant #5, Senior NGO Representative) might have higher expediency.

Another significant finding was the generalised perception by the respondents that NGOs as agents of change are willing to introduce new things and change norms or traditions, particularly in regard to religion. Ten out of 50 participants (20%) from all three main categories of participants (NGOs, media/academia/government and military) in the semi-structured narrative interview unpromptedly stated that the general public opinion about NGOs in Pakistan is that they “want to change” or “introduce new things”. In particular in conservative communities, such as Swat or tribal areas, NGOs are predominantly perceived as the challengers of local customs and traditions. This perception is strongly enabled by NGOs’ vision towards institutional change and particularly towards religion. “CSOs take sometimes very fundamental approaches to religion. Most of Pakistan is religious, some CSOs go very harsh about things and criticise” (Interview Participant #23, Senior Academia Representative). This might have a polarising effect, at both local and policy levels, where new divisions might be created between supporters and opponents of the new, democratic norms. Through a federal system and a genuine model of devolution (e.g. in Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir), Pakistan promotes a design of unity, despite its cultural and ethnical heterogeneity (Rabbani 2016). The Pakistani citizenship is considered a meta-articulator of the national identity, pertaining to all citizens of the country, disregarding their ethnicity, tribe or religion. Discourses and models of action matching this integrity and purposefully avoiding to introduce new lines of polarisation by advocating for example ‘how bad religious is’ are likely to enhance the positive impact of organisations working on peace and security. One respondent emphasised how a strategy of avoiding to ‘unnecessarily’ talk about sensitive issues might increase trust in CSOs:

Unnecessarily they will take issues. When they talk about peace, tolerance. They can talk about these things and people will have no objection. But if you are (...) those issues, which you could easily be avoiding, then the perception is that they are implementing certain agendas.

(Interview Participant #23, Senior Academia Representative)

Pakistan’s colonial past and conservative outlook are found to be two important factors impacting on people’s and the state’s perceptions. They also steer a lack of trust vis-a-vis NGOs’ objectives. In this context, challenging deep-rooted issues such as the blasphemy law could raise a lot of suspicion, particularly in conservative regions. The Pakistan state and society are in a compound state, in which old and new values co-exist. In this state, the practices of good governance or democratic decisions of the state’s judiciary are often overshadowed by conservative hardliners. This was emphasised on a series of occasions: in November 2017, when the Justice Minister resigned at the demand of hardliner protesters of an Islamic movement over blasphemy allegations; the killing of the Governor of Punjab for opposing blasphemy laws in 2011; or their protests against the 2018 court decision setting free Asia Bibi, who was previously accused of blasphemy. These examples show that Islamic religious movements continue to maintain substantial influence and power on decision-making processes and dynamics in Pakistan. People in conservative regions such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or Interior Sindh might be more reluctant towards Western models and values, even if these are regarded as democratic, wealth-catalysing and sustainable. Alleged interferences from neighbouring India (e.g. in Balochistan) and the country’s colonial past amplify the general suspicion regarding the role and scope of internationally funded NGOs and think tanks. One respondent associated this generalised suspicion with the country’s colonial past: “Co- lonialisers earlier also claimed that it is in the interest of the colonialised nations, but academics deconstructed later and founded that things were quite different” (Interview Participant #7, Senior Academia Representative).

Exogenous sources of funding and support can be both a facilitator and an impediment of civil-military cooperation, as the next sub-section shows.

 
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