When I went through four years of military training, we were still a nation governed by a Military dictator, General Zia ul Haq. While we were trained as professional soldiers, not much of our training involved any direct teaching of our constitutional responsibilities. As a result we internalized a deep-seated distrust of the so-called “civilians” and civilian-run institutions. This distrust of the civilians eventually enabled us to live our insular existences while our seniors used us and our troops to maintain several military governments.
We never thought critically of the actions of our superiors, not even when they abrogated the constitution and overthrew popularly elected governments. Had we been trained differently, as soldiers at the service of their nation bound by the constitution, we would have probably acted differently. I don’t think much has changed in training of the military officers since I left.
In order for Pakistan to develop a sustainable democratic system, the officers need to be trained differently. They need to be taught that their privileges are underwritten by the suffering of their people. Every time the nation buys more tanks and aircraft, it cuts costs in all other sectors of the national economy. No nation that spends over sixty percent of its GNP on defense can expect to build a viable national culture, systems of education and infrastructure needed to build a nation. The officers, therefore, must be taught that they are servants of the people and not their masters and that it is part of their job to protect the constitution of Pakistan along with protecting its citizens from external and internal enemies.
The general sense of entitlement of an average army officer–it is worst in the top brass–must be reshaped into a general sense of responsibility toward the people of the nation. It is only through such redirection of thoughts and desires that we will, eventually, create a military that is not so hell bent on conquering its own nation.