National security council of pakistan

Pakistan National Security Council (reporting name: NSC) is a federal institutional and consultative body chaired by the Prime minister of Pakistan. The NSC is a principal forum that is mandated for considering national security and foreign policy matters with the senior national security advisers and Cabinet ministers.[1] The idea and inception of National Security Council was first conceived in 1969 under the President Yahya Khan, its functions were to advise and assist the President and Prime minister on national security and foreign policies, since then,[1] however, the idea of this institution remains highly debatable and controversial in Pakistan's political science circles who argues that the NSC provides legal cover for expanding the role and influence of the military science circles in nation's public and political science affairs to subdue the popular democratic transitional process in the country.[1]

The National Security Council was re-created by then-President and former Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf in April 2004 under the National Security Council Act. Although, the NSC remains to stay as statue on the constitution, the National Security Council is not active since 2008, but instead the Defence Committee of the Cabinet is re-activated in its place.[2] The first National Security Adviser was Tariq Aziz who was appointed in 2004 and was preceded by Major-General (retired) Mahmud Durrani in 2008.[2] Since Durrani's deposing by Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in 2009, there has been no appointed new NSC adviser since then.[2] The NSC was abandoned by the government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with a unified confirmations from the Parliament, and its functions has been taken under control by the Defence Cabinet Committee as of 2009.[1] After inactive since 2008, the institute was revived again with the Prime Minister of Pakistan becoming its chairman in 2013.[3] Economist, Sartaj Aziz, is a current national security adviser who was appointed in June 2013.[3]

Structure of the National Security Council

Permanent hierarchy and officiates

National Security Secretaries

No Name Term of Office Previous service cadre President Prime Minister
1 Major-General Ghulam Omar 25 March 1969 20 December 1971 Pakistan Army General Yahya Khan Nurul Amin
2 Major-General Rao Farman Ali 29 March 1985 17 August 1988 Pakistan Army General Zia-ul-Haq Muhammad Khan Junejo
3 Tariq Aziz 4 April 2004 18 August 2008 Pakistan Civil Services General Pervez Musharraf Shaukat Aziz
Yousaf Raza Gillani
4 Major-General Mahmud Ali Durrani 19 August 2008 January 7, 2009 Pakistan Army Pervez Musharraf Yousaf Raza Gillani
5 Sartaj Aziz[3] 7 June 2013 PMLN Nawaz Sharif, Chair NSC


The Council serves as a forum for consultation for the president and the federal government on matters of national security including the sovereignty, integrity, defence, and security of the State and crisis management in general. It may also formulate recommendations to the president and the federal government in such matters.



The Pakistan military has been sending many recommendations for the establishment of the National Security Council as akin and counterpart to the American National Security Council.[1] A comprehensive report on NSC was written and submitted by the Commander of the Eastern High Command of East-Pakistan, Admiral S.M. Ahsan in 1968.[1] Admiral Ahsan submitted his handwritten report to President Yahya Khan's staff in Islamabad in 1969 and emphasized for the establishment of the military dominated national security council that would compromise the highly qualified civil and military officials who would advise the government on national security issues and propose stretegies to overcome the challenges involving the foreign policy matters.[1] Finally, the proposal was made forwarded to President Office, and strong recommendations for the approval of the proposal of the national security council was sent to President Yahya Khan.[1]

In 1969, President Yahya Khan established the National Security Council, after signing and issuing the presidential decree to establish this consultative institution. Major-General Ghulam Omar was appointed NSC's first secretary and was posted at the General Headquarters (GHQ) to perform operations of NSC under President Yahya Khan.[1] The NSC secretariat was part of the President Office and the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and was directly under the control of the military establishment which then-functioned under President Yahya Khan's staff.[1]

The NSC secretariat was highly unpopular in public and political circles of Pakistan, and it quickly gained notoriety in civil society due to its involvement in political and civilian affairs.[1] The NSC secretariat did not figure in the decision-making of the military government because President Yahya Khan ran his government administration as personalized enterprise relaying heavily on his close and trusted military and bureaucratic advisers.[1] The NSC Secretary, Major-General Ghulam Omar, was less focused on national issues whilst kept his interest in combat development. The NSC Secretariat under Yahya Khan was only a paper organization.[1]

The Genesis: 1985-1990

The concept of National Security Council as a bridge of stabilizing the civil-military relations has always been favoured by the military spectrum of Pakistan since 1971.[2] In 1973, Pakistan military has sent repeated recommendations of peculiar structure of the NSC in which senior military commanders of Pakistan Armed Forces are ensured a seat at the table.[2] The proposal was met with heated criticism in the state parliament and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto instead issued a white paper on Higher Defence Organisations (HDO) in May 1976, outlining the institutional arrangements for dealing with defence and security affairs. This led the ultimate creation of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) which has the mandate of responsibility of national defence rested with the Prime Minister. The DCC conveys matters to other important organisations involved in the national security decision-making on security affairs included the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the JS HQ of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and its Chairman, the Chiefs of Staff of the Pakistan Armed Forces.[2]

After the enactment of the martial law by chief of army staff General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977, the DCC had remained active. After holding successful referendum, followed by non-partisan general elections in 1985, President General Zia-ul-Haq authored and inserted Article 152-A to the Constitution through the Revival of the Constitution Order (RCO), on March 1985.[2] This led the establish a National Security Council for accommodating the high-ranking military leadership in policy making.[2] The NSC was empowered to "make recommendations relating to the issue of a Proclamation of Emergency under Article 232, security of Pakistan and any other matter of national importance that may be referred to it by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister."[2]

The NSC was opposed by most political circles and it had to be dropped as a part of the deal with the Parliament to get the parliamentary approval for the revised version of the Revival of the Constitution Order (RCO) as Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, in October 1985.[2] The NSC was dissolved by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1993 and reactivated the DCC operationalize in its place.[2]

Reconstruction and developments: 2004-2008

After staging a coup d'état against the government of Prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999, Chairman joint chiefs Pervez Musharraf announced the establishment of six member national security council in his first television speech. Through a presidential act, the concept of NSC was formally established under an order of the Chief Executive on 30 October 1999.[2] The presidential order also led the establishment of the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) as a think tank.[2] Although NRB gained quick constitutional establishment in 2000 the NSC's constitutional establishment did not really took off due to political consensus over the establishment of this institution. Finally in 2004, Prime minister Shaukat Aziz presented the National Security Council through an Act of Parliament and succeeded in constitutionally establishing the NSC for the first time in April 2004. Originally the NSC bill proposed that the NSC would also deal with the "matters relating to democracy, governance, and inter-provincial harmony."[2] This sentence was later controversially replaced by President Musharraf with "crisis management" without explaining its operational.[2] President and Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf created the office in Aiwan-e-Sadr, and appoint civil bureaucrat Tariq Aziz as the first National Security Advisor.[2] According to PILDT, since its reestablishment, Musharraf conveyed very few national security meetings, and most meetings were conducted to discuss political situations only.

He resigned from the post of NSC secretariat when Musharraf resigned from presidency on 18 August 2008. He was succeeded by Mahmud Ali Durrani as the second National Security Advisor, directly reporting to the Prime minister Secretariat. Durrani was notably deposed by the Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in January 2009 for "not consulting the Prime Minister while giving statements on foreign relation matters". The matter in question was the acceptance by the Government of Pakistan of the Pakistani nationality of the sole surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks and was in the custody of the Mumbai police.

Abolishing status: 2008-2009

After the incident, Prime minister Gillani vowed to abolish the National Security Council in February 2009.[2] The NSC remains to stay as statue on the constitution, however, the NSC secretariat is not active since 2008, but instead the Defence Committee of the Cabinet is re-activated in its place by the current government.[2] Since 2009, there has been no appointed new NSC adviser and no national security meetings have been conducted since then.[2] Its operations and mandate has been integrated to the DCC meeting, and there has been ninth DCC meeting taken place since 2009.[2]

Public debates and criticism

The concept and idea of NSC has been roundly and widely criticized by the influential civilians and leading political parties in the country. It is noted by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDT) that the NSC only employs the retired military officers and elite civilian bureaucrats, generally who are close to the military leadership.[1] The political parties argues that the military sphere should be formally inducted into the policy making structure because of the role it has acquired as internal policy making and security.[1] Most political parties and leaders takes a strong exception to the setting of an institution akin to NSC because it is viewed as expanding the constitutional role and legal cover for the military sphere in national affairs.[1] This streghthens the military science circles role in public policy rather than trimming them, the political parties argues.[1]

However, the political parties are in favor of strengthening and expanding the role of Defence Committee of Cabinet (DCC) and various parliamentary standing committees that deals with defense and security affairs.[1] The major political science circles bitterly oppose the idea of NSC ever since its inception in 1969, as they argue that the NSC created the legal base for the military science circle to expand its interference and involvement in state's public policy affairs.[1] Pakistan's political science circles maintains that NSC provides "such military dominated environment" that was not conductive to the development of autonomous civilian institutions and process.[1] Hence, the military science circle would continue to overshadow the democratic and political science circle in the process of making public policies.[1] Since its recreation in 2004, the NSC was bitterly criticised by the influential political science circles of the country.[1]

On May 2006, the Charter of Democracy called for the dissolving of NSC and disbandment of the idea of NSC in country's military science circles.[1] The Charter had several legal provisions regarding the NSC for reducing the expanded role of the military science circles and asserting the primacy of the political science circles in the public policy and decision-making processes.[1] The Charter notably called for abolishing the NSC and emphasized the importance and need to make DCC for focal point of defence and national security related policy-making.[1] Major political science circles and parties aligned with PPP and PML to deestablished the NSC in 2008.[1] During the 2008 general elections, the PPP pledged to replace the NSC with DCC.[1] After deposing the last National Security Adviser, the PPP government successfully dissolved the NSC Council and successfully replaced with more effective DCC Committee.[1]

See also


External links

  • National Security Council of Pakistan
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