OF one meeting is not made a relationship, functional or otherwise, but Saturday’s three-hour tête-à-tête in Lahore between the incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Kayani suggests that both sides can at least be expected to try and work together in the months ahead. The army’s hands-off approach towards the elections, for the most part, will have gone some way in addressing the PML-N’s concerns that somehow the likelihood of another stint in Islamabad for the N-League was being undermined by the army — the complaints about a nexus between former ISI chief Gen Pasha and the PTI being the loudest and most toxic. Now that the PML-N has swept to unexpectedly large gains in its strongholds in an on-schedule election with minimal interference by the army-led establishment, the party may be more willing to look at the army leadership as a partner rather than a potential adversary.

On the army’s part, Mr Sharif’s suggestions in the days leading up to the election that a Sharif-led government will determine national security and foreign policies and the army will be expected to follow it will have raised some eyebrows but there was also enough in Mr Sharif’s comments to suggest that he is no way spoiling for a fight. More important will be how the incoming prime minister decides to try and influence two key relationships: with India and Afghanistan. On India, Mr Sharif’s intentions are well known and it can be inferred that the army would prefer a slower rate of progress than the PML-N supremo appears to want. On Afghanistan, Mr Sharif has said virtually nothing, meaning there is little clarity on whether he is in agreement with the preferred army option of creating the maximal space for Pakhtuns/ Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan post-2014. Internally, the PML-N has never seriously questioned military operations, but then, what is said from the luxury of sitting in the opposition can be very different from what is done with a hand on the levers of the state.


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

More From This Section

Apology and after

The PPP has only been reduced to a regional party, more or less confined to Sindh.

A broken system

In fact, the data collected by the Faisalabad police serves as an eye-opener to indicate just how rotten the system is.

Confident consumers

Investor confidence might be plummeting and the country’s savings rate may be the lowest in the region.

Comments (4) (Closed)


a.k.lal
May 20, 2013 12:48pm
why should army have any say at all.they have to be subservient to elected representatives
Assad
May 20, 2013 02:58pm
For as long as Sharif and company don't screw up the Country even more than it is.
gangadin
May 20, 2013 11:53am
IMHO, this meeting was nothing more than a sugar coated threat/agenda from a foreign third party conveyed to Sharif.
Rashid Sultan
May 20, 2013 09:17am
I wonder how long the Army will stick to non interference in government's policies?