Millennium Post

Tensions rise in Pak

All is apparently not well between the Pakistani military and the civilian administration once again. Reports indicate that tensions rose on Saturday following a public rejection of the civilian government's findings of Dawn newspaper report probe by the military. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday sacked his Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi and sought action against Principal information officer Rao Tehsin of the Ministry of Information following the Inquiry Committee's recommendations.

In a story published last year, Dawn claimed that the government had told the military to act against militants or face international isolation. The report caused a friction between the civilian administration and the military prompting the government to set up a probe committee. Islamabad had also decided to bar senior journalist Cyril Almeida from leaving his country after writing that exclusive report. Speculation suggests that Islamabad had wanted the story to go public.

The aim was to tell the world that Islamabad is doing its part to defang home-grown militancy and embarrass the military establishment. But the use of "non-state" by the Pakistani military establishment has been institutionalised. Some commentators in India have even suggested that the report was part of Islamabad's strategy to regain some control over national security.

But the civilian leadership was seemingly unable to follow through on its gambit. There is speculation that Sharif administration has thrown senior officials and the newspaper under the bus to save itself from the military's wrath. One can only conclude that the civilian leadership exercises little power, especially in matters of foreign policy and national security. The Panama Papers leak has already rendered Sharif vulnerable. In the past, he has offered little resistance to the military as it has steadily encroached on his authority. How will Sharif react to the military's latest rebuff? We don't have the answers yet.

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