Despite Civilian Rule, Pakistan’s Army Still Above the Law

Years After Summary Execution Video Leaked, Army Still Won't Comment

The end of years of military rule under Gen. Pervez Musharraf may be over for Pakistan, but “civilian rule” is not anywhere near the same thing as having an accountable military, a lesson Pakistanis continue to learn.

Throughout 2009, the bodies of “suspects” in the ongoing Malakand offensive would show up in piles by the side of the road, apparently executed. In 2010, a video emerged of uniformed Pakistani soldiers killing six blindfolded teens. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Parvez Kayani promised to investigate.

But years later, nothing seems to have come of the matter. The Associated Press reported today that, having repeatedly pressed Pakistan’s Army on the matter they sometimes claim that the investigation is still ongoing, and other times refused to comment at all.

In practice from Malakand to Balochistan the Pakistani military is above the law, and continues to retain virtually complete autonomy from the elected government, which is itself virtually powerless to exercise any oversight, even if they had a mind to. Given how many civilian governments in Pakistan’s short history have ended in coups, very few officials are inclined to push the matter.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of