Civil-military relations refer to the power dynamics between civilian leaders and the military establishment. In Pakistan, the military has consistently wielded significant influence over foreign policy and national security, even during periods of civilian rule. Military leaders justify this dominance by highlighting security threats, but this imbalance has constrained policymaking in various ways.
Public dissent and debate on crucial issues such as terrorism, relations with India, and nuclear policy are limited. Defence budget allocations and militarised responses to domestic insurgencies often go unchallenged. This situation arises from civilian leaders’ dependence on the military for political survival.
To ensure genuine policy reform, civilian supremacy over the military must be asserted. As long as the military’s interests dictate security, defence, and regional policies, substantive change will remain elusive. True policy alignment with democratic principles and constitutional boundaries is essential for policies that reflect public interests rather than just the military’s institutional interests.