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May 19, 2013

Army explains Kayani-Nawaz meeting

Pakistan

WD
Web Desk
May 19, 2013

DUBAI: The Nawaz-Kayani meeting will go a long way to ensure a smooth functioning of the democratic system, with complete focus on the domestic and regional security situation, a top military official said on Saturday night.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the meeting was basically arranged to prevent any suspicions and doubts in any quarter that there was any threat to democracy or the newly elected leadership.
General Kayani broke new ground and became the first army chief to call on a prime minister-elect. The visit to Nawaz Sharif, who has not even been sworn in as the country’s prime minister, can be seen as CBM to ensure that there was no tensions and clash of institutions, as some analysts had feared, specially after the statements by the PML-N chief about the retirement of General Kayani and relations with India.
Nawaz Sharif had before the elections spoken to an Indian channel and stated categorically that General Kayani was not expected to come to him for another extension and the senior-most general of the army will become the new army chief. He had also made some surprisingly positive statements about India which many thought may not have gone down well with the Army.
But the Saturday meeting dealt with all these issues and for more than three hours the two leaders tried to read each other’s lips and minds, the senior official said.
It is understood that General Kayani did not raise the issue of his extension at all, as he was obviously not supposed to, but there was a lingering feeling in the meeting that the vast experience and hands-on knowledge of handling critical matters for years must be put to some use.
When I asked a senior military official if this impression was correct, he said the culture of using the knowledge and experience of our talented people was growing but in Pakistan the reality has been that once a person is out of a job he is out of mind and sight.
Yet the official quoted some

names of senior diplomats who were experts in foreign affairs and whose private views and suggestions had been sought and used by the defence establishment, off and on.
“This is a good trend which is catching up and this can be relevant for the military officers as well,” the official said, without even hinting that he was making any suggestion or comment about General Kayani’s role after he retires.
Analysts, however, said the Kayani-Nawaz meeting was a good sign that the army and the political class were now coming on the same page on national security issues and “there was an institutional thinking” behind what General Kayani stands for.
When I asked the senior official how the army will make up for the invaluable experience and expertise of General Kayani in handling sensitive issues, he said the institutions are always on the same page as their leaders and there should be no problems in a smooth transfer of batons within the institution while maintaining the same policies and strategies.
The army side is also aware of the criticism coming from some media and political quarters that General Kayani may have crossed some kind of a red line by offering such a major CBM to Nawaz Sharif.
“We want that there should be no fears in the political set-up about threats to the political system, as we saw in the last five years.”