ISLAMABAD: Last Thursday, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan maintained that the country was facing severe external threats and for thwarting the same, there was a need for cohesion between all state institutions.
He contended that only himself and three other individuals in the country — presumably the recently disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the ISI chief — were privy to these dangers confronting Pakistan.
But, the senior PML-N leader did not specify those ‘clear and present dangers.’
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It is believed that he was referring to efforts by certain international and regional players to corner Pakistan. These efforts are believed to be spearheaded by India along with other anti-Pakistan elements in the United States and in Afghanistan. Part of this strategy was to build an international narrative that Pakistan was the epic centre of terrorism.
On operational front, forces inimical to Pakistan are backing proxies inside the country in a bid to create instability. The larger objective was to undermine China’s ‘One belt, One Road’ initiative and as a consequence, stall Pakistan’s progress. As Nisar put it, this ‘grave situation’ demanded national cohesion and cooperation among all state institutions, including the civilian leaders and military command.
However, the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister might widen the gulf between the ruling party and security establishment, observers contend.
PML-N leaders, they said, were already alluding to the fact that Nawaz was ousted from power by way of a ‘well-crafted conspiracy’.
After his ouster by the Supreme Court, Nawaz Sharif spoke for the first time on Saturday, indicating that his party might adopt an aggressive posturing towards the judiciary and the military establishment.
Members of the military command have maintained low-key profiles over the past few weeks, especially just before the Panama case concluded. No official meeting took place between the former Prime Minister and the members of the military command since July 7.
The reason for this was that the military leadership, like the rest of the country, was waiting for final outcome of the Panama case. However, there was also unease between the government and military establishment over the role played by intelligence officials in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
In fact, Nawaz Sharif, through his lawyer, questioned credentials of the ISI official on the JIT, asking if he represented the prime intelligence agency. The military acknowledged that Brig Noman Saeed belonged to the ISI.
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“If the current trend continues, I am afraid civilian-military relationship will be severely tested,” cautioned political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi.
Shehbaz Sharif, who is now seen as the most likely replacement of Nawaz Sharif at the Centre, would actually determine the state of civilian-military ties, Rizvi said.
“Now we have to see how he (Shehbaz Sharif) behaved with the military after he becomes the prime minister,” Rizvi said.
Civilian-military relationship is considered critical because of the current national security challenges and key foreign policy matters.
Analysts believe that if this gulf widened, there would be instability and negative impact on foreign policy and national security issues.
But for Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qayum, a PML-N senator, Shehbaz’s elevation as Prime Minister would have a “positive impact on civilian-military ties”.
Gen Qayum told The Express Tribune that after being nominated for the top post during the Parliamentary party’s meeting on Saturday, Shehbaz told the gathering that his priority would be to have smooth relationship with all state institutions, including the military.
Source: Express Tribune