Nawaz-NSA meeting

Such meetings need space given to the opposition

PML(N) Supreme Leader Mian Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with the Afghan National Security Adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, has caused the government to go ballistic, with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry demanding that the government be given the audio recording of the meeting, and saying that the meeting was against the national doctrine of Pakistan. That last immediately raised the question of what exactly was the ‘doctrine’ (surely Mr Chaudhry meant policy?) for Afghanistan. Perhaps he should realise that with his government not clear about what to do with the evolving situation on its border, the Kabul government will do its best to find out Pakistan’s possible actions from whatever means it can. Though Mian Nawaz Sharif is out of office, he has been thrice Prime Minister of Pakistan. Also, to expect him to abjure political activity, even if it is as tangential as it is, is unrealistic.

It should be kept in mind that ascertaining the views of all political players is the job of diplomats, and if Mr Sharif was able to participate in politics at home, an Afghan diplomat would have contacted him. Afghan diplomats are not available, after being recalled following the abduction of the ambassador’s daughter. That spat may be behind some of Mr Chaudhry’s bitterness. The sort of minimum cooperation between former and present governments would have had a Foreign Office representative at the meeting, not necessarily a particularly senior official, to take notes and brief the government. But in an atmosphere of name-calling and itaunting that emanates from the very top, that would be too much to expect.

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Instead of focusing so much energy on the meeting, the government should focus on working out a response to the events on the ground in Afghanistan. Instead of raising the well-worn bogey of treason, the government should realize that its refusal to give the opposition the space it needs to function properly, which includes includes interactions with diplomats, ultimately is costly to it, any satisfaction it has got by driving it to the wall not just temporary but counter-productive.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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