After resorting to brinkmanship

The customary U-turn

The Prime Minister reacted strongly to the military establishment’s transfer of the DG ISI and his replacement by the Corps Commander Karachi.  For five days toing and froing continued between the PM House and GHQ. Finally, on Tuesday Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry conceded that there were sharp differences between the government and the establishment over the issue of Lt Gen Faiz Hamid’s transfer. PTI’s chief whip in the National Assembly, Amir Dogar, said the incumbent DG ISI was indispensable as the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating and he must retain the office for a number of months. It was also maintained that the new appointment was unlawful as the PM had not been properly consulted. The PM did not sign the DG ISI’s transfer orders even after the cabinet meeting where he maintained that he was not a “rubberstamp.”

Everything however changed on Wednesday when the Information Minister tweeted that the consultation between the COAS and the PM over the appointment of the new ISI Chief was finally complete and the process for new appointment had been initiated. Presumably the PM has blinked first in what appeared to be an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. There is little likelihood of the military establishment changing the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, as the decision was taken after detailed discussions in GHQ, and the ISPR had duly announced it on October 6. It can however agree to go through the ritual of presenting three names to the PM provided there is  a prior understanding that the PM would tick the name proposed by the Army.

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It is good for the county that the crisis has been resolved. Presumably the PTI leadership discovered that the confrontation with the establishment would spread despondency in the PTI’s rank and file, alienate its coalition partners and strengthen the opposition. With the masses reeling under the impact of ever-increasing prices, rising service charges and widespread unemployment, none would consider Mr Khan a martyr if he became a casualty  as a result of political adventurism. But if the PM was to finally to agree to the establishment’s terms, what was the need to issue veiled threats which, among other things, led the KSE-100 to plunge 661 points as political uncertainty took toll on sentiment.

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


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