By Sardar Khan Niazi
The oft repeated ‘one page’ mantra sounds good to the ears but the current circumstances suggest something else. The ‘one page’ term is frequently used in Pakistan with regards to relations between the military and the civilian leadership. I will put forth my two cents on this issue later on but first things first. Daily The Patriot published a story on September 27, 2016 in which it said that Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday is the front–runner in the race to become the new Army Chief after a summary was sent to the defense ministry in this regard. I discussed the story in my program Sachi Baat on the same day, I had pointed out that Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif is the key decision maker with regards to the military’s top command. Why the younger Sharif is taking keen interest in the affairs of the military is something I won’t comment on.
In my program on October 03, 2016, I revealed that the military has recommended Lieutenant General Ishfaq Nadeem’s name for the post of Army Chief. Who eventually goes on to become the new Army Chief is anyone’s guess as the situation may change again in the coming days, after all it is the Prime Minister who has the ultimate say on the matter. I have said a number of times in my programs that anyone who gets promoted to the rank of Lt General and commands a corps is fully capable of performing duties as the Army Chief (if given the post).
As far as the ‘one page’ mantra goes the cat is finally out of the bag. Yesterday’s story in an English Daily said that a verbal altercation recently took place between Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and ISI DG Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar (government issued a rebuttal). The government spokesman rubbished the said story as ‘amalgamation of fiction and half truths’ but as the saying goes ‘there’s no smoke without fire’, I had already pointed out during my programs that the Punjab Chief Minister is taking keen interest in such matters.
Internal power struggle at such a crucial period when India is mounting pressure not just at the diplomatic level but at the borders is unadvised. As far as the case of the new Army Chief is concerned considering the current unusually tense situation the government could have tried to retain the services of General Raheel Sharif in some way. Whether the government made any effort or not in this regard or whether the Army Chief himself rejected such a proposal is yet unknown. General Raheel Sharif has led the war against terror in a fantastic manner and is seen as a key man for the fate of the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Prime Minister should now move quickly to quash speculation and name the new Army Chief be it Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat, Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday or Lt-Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. Uncertainty is the last thing the country needs at this moment.