The Deep State

(Photo by Thomas Hawk, CC License)
(Photo by Thomas Hawk, CC License)

Writing in the New York Times (NYT), Amanda Taub and Max Fisher talked about shadowy networks within government bureaucracies, referred to as “Deep States”, undermining and coercing elected governments very much like the spate of leaks bedeviling the Trump Administration. They compared the present situation in the US to countries like Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, unfortunately “deep state” exists in almost all countries.

Referred to as “a state within a state”, it can be described as elements within a country’s  internal organs such as the armed forces, intelligence agencies, police, bureaucracy, etc (in essence an “Establishment within the Establishment”) pursuing an agenda separate from the government’s and not responding to the civilian political leadership or political parties. Conspiratorial in nature it can also take the form of entrenched unelected civil servants acting in non-conspiratorial manner to further their own agendas in opposition to policies of elected officials by obstructing, resisting or subverting the directives and policies of elected officials. A U.K. newsletter provides greater clarity to the definition, “the embedded anti-democratic power structures within a government, something very few democracies can claim to be free from.” Those making up the “deep state” often remain hidden beneath layers of bureaucracy while having tangible control of key resources (whether human or financial). Most importantly, they remain independent of any political changes that may take place in a State.

The phrase ‘Derin Devlet’ in Turkish literally meaning “inner state” went on to become a staple part of everyday political discussion in Turkey in the 1990s where widespread belief prevails that “deep state” is behind the scenes of every democratic elections.  Talking about bugging devices found in his home and office in Dec 2012, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “Every state has its own deep state; it is like a virus; it reappears when conditions are suitable. We continue fighting these structures. We cannot of course argue that we have completely eliminated and destroyed it because as a politician, I do not believe that any state in the world has been able to do this completely.”

A telephone conversation between Trump’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Lt Gen (Retd) Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak in December 2016 after the elections was carried by The Washington Post (WP) and the NYT. The torrent of stories appeared to be a clear and coordinated campaign meant to precipitate Flynn’s fall. Muslim countries have no reason to be unhappy about Flynn’s unceremonious quick exit given his rabid anti-Muslim (and anti-Pakistan) stance. The “Russia connection” is turning into an epic battle between the combined forces of the media and intelligence community with Trump’s aides led by Steve Bannon, White House Strategic Advisor, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner Senior Advisor in the White House and de facto “Deputy President” for all appearances. So is the “tax” issue which seems to be snowballing!  Writing in the Los Angeles (LA) Times, Doyle McManus says that Trump’s problem is not the deep state but “the broad state”, with intelligence leaks more widespread.  Michael Barbaro in the NTY says an organized network called “Deep State” is trying to undermine the Trump Presidency.

Politicians and military governments may come and go but the “Deep State” serves all the regimes playing both sides, stoking the fires among them in turn, this time-honored formula cementing their own “indispensability” and ‘survival’. They (1) keep tabs on all internal developments, howsoever insignificant and (2) thereby tailor their vested interest about particular issues with the national agenda. Electronic and print is an invaluable tool for social media projections of their version of truth, etc. While more careful going after the military whenever they are governing, from within the Information Ministry particularly they can and do create problems given the opportunity for both civilian or military governments.

The deliberate anti-Pakistan Army agenda by the “deep state” is not only condemnable but a matter of concern. Those propagating Modi’s anti-Pakistan propaganda are committing (and have committed) treason and must be held accountable in a military court, whoever they are. Covering up treason is also treason. Holding a public office or being associated to an office holder compounds this felony. Deepening the misunderstanding between the government and the Army creates bad blood. The fake “Cyril Almeida” story was planted by an obnoxious cabal as part of a dirty campaign to create a rift between the civilian and military leadership. The planting of the false information by a willing pawn was not the work of any politician (or at least a mature one), but of someone with influence in the media. While bureaucrats are willing to fall on their swords, who was being protected when the Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid loyally became a convenient scapegoat? What was the motive for this blatantly treasonous propaganda coinciding with Modi’s virulent anti-Pakistan tirades? Consider the cryptic ISPR statement after the last Corps Commander’s Conference about the “Dawn Leaks” being discussed!

Why is the Commission’s report not being published? Where did the perfidy trying to defame the new COAS emanate from? Different style to his predecessor, Qamar Bajwa is more substance and quiet emphasis instead of being vocal! The new COAS may listen to advice but is not hostage to anyone’s counsel.   In less than 120 days Qamar Javed Bajwa has shown he is decisive and determined. Calling the Afghan diplomats to GHQ to hand over the list of terrorists being given sanctuary (and support thereof) in Afghanistan over the objections of the Foreign Office (FO) was a very deliberate show of seriousness of purpose in the language they understand.

Pakistan’s political leadership has learnt no lessons from the past, it continues to be ill-advised by sycophants who use their proximity to the powerful to create misunderstanding, using any means at their disposal i.e. spreading rumors, feeding leaks and false information, orchestrating events, feeding lies to their masters, etc. “Deep State” thrives in conditions where flatterers and hordes of ‘yes men’ lead the rulers astray. Proxies in the print, electronic and social media carry out their bidding without question. A cursory survey will show that our Information Ministry gives most of the government budget for advertisements to the anti-Army media. The corruption, nepotism and customary incompetence of these despicable public servants is a real scourge for Pakistan. This “deep state” further force-multiplies the myriad number of our problems. The influence of the “deep state” must be minimized, otherwise the State cannot provide services, administer justice, maintain law and order and bring about economic prosperity that our people desperately need.

The writer is a Pakistan-based defense and security analyst.

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