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Nawaz and ISI

July 18, 2013

ONE fact that Nawaz Sharif rued during the days he was in exile or even after he returned was the manner in which he was sidelined by the security establishment during his earlier two stints as prime minister.

He still seems to be smarting from the Kargil episode and the fact that he was not suitably consulted by those responsible for the military operation. Perhaps it was this instinct that prompted him to pay a visit to the ISI and interior ministry offices recently and convey to the officers there that while he was a civilian, he took military matters equally to heart.

The prime minister’s visit may have come in response to the storm that has been kicked up by the ostensible leaking of the Abbottabad Commission Report. But it certainly appears to be a case of once bitten, twice shy.

The consultations that the PM has kick-started so early in his tenure point to the formulation of a new security policy that the government is treating with much more priority than was done before.

The military may have gone its own way in the past and pursued some kind of a parallel course. But this time around, Nawaz Sharif’s approach brings to the fore the role of the civilian government with much more impact both as a formulator and a custodian of the country’s national security policy.

Nawaz Sharif and his government are also aware of the fact that foreign investors, such as China and others, need some kind of better security for their men and materials to be able to operate in Pakistan than what has been provided to them earlier.