Wednesday, September 14, 2016

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Civil-Military Relations and Democracy in Pakistan

Siegfried O.Wolf
South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) 19 Avenue des Arts 1210 Brussels Belgium +12 026 834 180 +32 2 808 42 08 Reg. Num. BE 833606320

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multibillion-dollar infrastructure investment project, is heralded as a game changer for Pakistan’s economy. It is part of the major development initiative led by China, known as ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), connecting Asia with Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and for those involved it evokes hopes, a myriad of interests, and it spurs a geopolitical shift (Ze 2015; 2014, October 2014). However, such a megaproject also raises numerous questions, especially with regards to the feasibility of its implementation in view of tremendous security challenges. In order to guarantee a secure environment for the CPEC development, the military is expanding its power. This phenomenon significantly affects the country’s civil- military relations and civilian control over the military, while challenging the process of democratic transition. To assess the correlation between CPEC development and quality of democracy, the paper applies the ‘Heidelberg Model of Civilian Control’ (Croissant et al. 2013, 2011 April, 2011, 2010, 2009); it analyses the influence of the military on the decision-making and implementation process vis-à-vis the civilian government, understood as the elected representatives of the people. It will be argued that: First, the way in which CPEC is being implemented limits the decision-making powers of the civilian government and hampers civilian control over the military. Second, since civilian control of the military is interpreted as a prerequisite for democracy, the CPEC development is undermining the process of democratic transition initiated by the 2013 general elections. Third, to ensure the CPEC development, the military has built-up a parallel governance structure, exercising tremendous executive and judicial powers and side-lining the civilian government.