WEB DESK: The government has reportedly activated backdoor channels with the powerful military establishment to find a solution to the Panama leaks through a possible extension in the tenure of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.
A ruling party member, who requested anonymity, told Business Recorder that the government wants to settle the issue of the extension in consultation with the establishment, but nothing is final yet.
“It’s premature to say if the government is going to grant extension in service to the army chief, but one thing is for sure that we want to settle the issue amicably,” he said. He said that some government functionaries have been in touch with the establishment on the issue as they have also been keeping an eye on the opposition party’s move to start agitation against the government over the Panama leaks.
The ruling party member said that some government ministers believe that if the issue of the extension is settled, then this would help them deal with the opposition parties on the Panama leaks issue. The three year term of the Chief of Army Staff is going to end in November this year, but some circles have been pushing the government to grant him extension in the service due to his outstanding work against terrorism and extremism.
He, however, said that if the extension is granted, then operations against militants including Karachi and Zarb-e-Azb would continue smoothly. According to a recent PILDAT report, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the CoAS met 76 times since the latter’s appointment in November 2013, equating to an average of 25 meetings per year, whereas the average of the meetings of the National Security Committee (NSC) stands at 1.67 per year.
“This reflects the unfortunate reality of lack of seriousness by the government in taking charge of institutionalisation of national security strategies and actions. Not only the dormancy of the NSC, but also of the federal cabinet, the Council of Common Interests, and other forums also reflect the government’s lack of priority for institutionalised decision-making,” the report said.
Pildat further contended that the crucially important committee met 5 times since its formation in August 2013, signalling its near dormancy. Defence analyst Talat Masood said the government would get no benefit from giving an extension to the army chief and if an extension is granted, it would negatively impact on the army hierarchy. “The government and the army can never be on the same page as the latter keeps trying to dominate the civilians’ space,” he said. According to him, the government must nominate the next army chief instead of indulging in the trap of granting an extension to Raheel Sharif.
Source: Business Recorder