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Rift in Pak’s civil-military relations?

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Islamabad: The Pakistan army spokesman’s recent tweets and statements have hinted tensions between civil and military leadership of the country which has been struggling to contain terrorism and extremism, a leading Pakistani daily commented today.

“Military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa’s tweets and statements have exposed civil-military tensions at a time when the nation expects the best coordination and unison between the two sides in their fight against terrorism,” the News International said.

It said the civilian government might not be delivering as per the expectations of the military establishment, “but making such differences public will not benefit the cause of effectively fighting terrorism and extremism.”

In the post-Lahore attack scenario, there was a need to improve the coordination between all the state institutions to check terrorism but the army spokesman’s tweets did otherwise, the daily said.

“During a press conference jointly addressed by the information minister (Pervez Rashid) and the DG ISPR, the latter again said that furthered the rift between the two sides,” it said.

“Additionally, this situation tends to undermine the civilian supremacy as guaranteed by the Constitution and gives the impression as if the military is acting like a supra-governmental body over and above the country’s chief executive,” it said.

The daily opined that in case of any difference of opinion, the best course of action for both the sides should be to “discuss such matters behind closed doors”.

“It is encouraging to see that the federal as well as the Punjab governments are avoiding to publicly rebut the DG ISPR’s statement despite the embarrassment caused to them,” the daily said.

After the deadly Lahore attack, which killed more than 70 people, Bajwa in his tweet announced that the army chief had chaired a high-level security meeting, attended amongst others by the DG ISI and DG MI, and directed concerned commanders “to commence” operations as soon as possible.

“Following the tweet, the media took up the issue in its headlines and raised the question if the civilian government had authorised the same,” it said.

After the Lahore attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif have been holding meetings separately and have yet to sit together for a coordinated effort, the paper said.

PTI

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