The Blocked Sewage Pipe Theory of military dictatorships

It’s all downhill for Kayani now

You would be foolish to think that you can rub off the entire top echelon of the Pakistani army’s general staff on the wrong side and get on with life as usual. Look at the last two power transitions in that country—Nawaz Sharif was ousted because he made the cardinal mistake of being less than respectful in his treatment of General Jehangir Karamat and then General Musharraf. In his turn, General Musharraf was ultimately pushed out because the army hierarchy had had enough of him. The rigidly hierarchical pyramid that is the Pakistani army is at once highly competitive at a peer level and unappreciative of anything that disrupts upward movement. Those who mess with the dynamic end up paying a dear price for it.

It doesn’t need you to be particularly astute to figure this out. But the trappings of power, headiness of perceived victories and public sycophancy by US officials militates against the exercise of good sense. Then fall, Caesar. It’s General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s turn now.

General Kayani might have secured a three-year extension but in doing so, he has ensured that as many as 24 lieutenant-generals—the entire lot of them—will not stand a chance to become army chief, unless something untoward happens to the overstaying incumbent. There are around 170 major-generals many of who will be affected too. That makes for quite a lot of disgruntled officers who would wish ill of their boss.

A general who gets an extension is like a blockage in a sewage pipe. If the blockage is not cleared, the pipe will burst. There’s always more sewage, pressure builds up relentlessly and no one wants the sewage pipe to burst. Not even US officials. So it is the blockage that is cleared.

General Kayani played a masterful hand so far. He would have done well to hang up his boots in November. Alas, power and hubris got the better of him. It’s downhill for him now. The dagger-sharpeners of Rawalpindi will see increased custom in the coming months.

6 thoughts on “The Blocked Sewage Pipe Theory of military dictatorships”

  1. The Pakistanis are fond of boasting of how their army is so professional, full of strategists and brilliant tacticians. Yet they cnnot find anyone to take charge. No one is indespensible, not even Kayani. He too will come crashing down to earth, brought down by his own.

    In India babus never give up. In Pakistan – Generals.

  2. Let’s hope this is so. In a democracy, no one is indispensable. I wonder how this concession was wrung out of the Pakistani civilian government…

  3. @Nitin,
    Your post was more wishful thinking than analysis – Kiyani has the full backing of Adm Mike Mullen, Gen.Petraeus and the Pentagon.

    Kiyani has already convinced them to force India talk to Pakistan even though the US fully knows his culpability and that of the ISI in 26/11.

    It is quite possible that there are a number of people who want to replace Kayani. I am quite surprised that Musharaff himself has not resurfaced.

    How ever it is no secret whose side Uncle Sam is on and ambitious Paki generals would do well to operate understanding that key fact.

  4. The USA’s interests in Pakistan calls for propping up the Pakistani army for several reasons, and the Pakistani army is central in terrorism against India.

    The US’s interest is to see the continuation of a regime that only has interest in terrorism in India, not to see the Army replaced by the Taliban who hate everybody equally.

    India should not be working with the US on Pakistan, as the US will ensure that Pak. Army remains standing and able to “balance Indian Power” at the end of the day. India should work to make sure that a Talibanized Pakistan that wants to commit terror all over the world (including India) comes into existence.

    A Pakistan that wants to create trouble all over the world is preferable to a Pakistan that focusses its attention on India. In order to achieve a talibanized Pakistan, India must do nothing to help the current bunch of uniformed terrorists in the Pakistani Army/ISI who only have eyes for India, and the USA would like to prop up the PakArmy/ISI and keep the Taliban out of Pakistan, which is not exactly in India’s interest.

  5. In India’s point of view it matters very little whether Kayani is going downhill or somewhere else. His extension might have denied many a chance to become army chief but then we know for sure that Kayani will replaced by someone whose attitude is not going to be any different.

  6. I like the sewage pipe analogy. Beats the FIFO queue anyday. Kayani is the top turd as of now.

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