Given the political realities of our country, it is clear the civilian and military leadership will need to work together to resolve the various problems we face. This is especially true given our own internal security situation, and the pressing need to tackle the militant threat, which poses such grave dangers to national stability. Quite naturally, given this background, the meeting in Lahore between army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif would seem to be a good omen for the future. This is especially true given the suggestions that Mr Sharif, ousted in a 1999 military coup, may have difficulty in cooperating with the institution.
Though little has officially been said about the meeting, an exclusive report in this publication offers us an insight into the nature of the dialogue. It is understood General Kayani was told there would be a “realignment” of national security policy and foreign policy, in keeping with the nation’s interests. The COAS is believed to have extended his support for this, and also for the PML-N government’s stated plans to take up the issue of drone strikes with the US administration once it has taken office. The army chief also clearly stated that the military had no “secret deal” with Washington on this matter. The unmanned strikes, as well as the broader militant threat will, of course, be key issues for the future. During what appears to have been a generally cordial and productive meeting, Mr Sharif was informed that his government would be given a full security briefing after being formally sworn in, while the prime minister-elect assured General Kayani he held no animosity towards the army as an institution. An exit for former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is also thought to have been decided during the detailed dialogue between the two men.
The coming five-year period will be crucial to our country in many ways. We need the winds of fortune to blow in our favour and the agreements reached between two key players are vital to this. The meeting is then to be welcomed as it promises smoother sailing ahead.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.
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