A policy of reconciliation

Prime Minister Gilani has said that giving an extension to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani was “an administrative affair to which the government did not feel necessary to hold consultations with political parties”. The PML-N claims that it was not taken into confidence about the extension while Mr Gilani maintains that he “called Mr Nawaz Sharif two hours before” his address to the nation “but his [Nawaz Sharif’s] son told me that he was travelling”.

The prime minister is right when he says that he did not need to ‘consult’ other political parties on this matter but since the PPP government has adopted a policy of reconciliation, it would have been better had Mr Sharif and other political parties been taken into confidence. Mr Gilani laid stress on the continuity of the government’s tenure and said that the coalition partners have to “understand that in future no political party will be in a position to secure two-thirds majority” and now we would all have to live with coalition governments. He said that a policy of tolerance has to be adopted. In other words, Mr Gilani wants Mr Sharif to respect his government’s mandate and not create any trouble. When asked about General Kayani’s extension, Mr Sharif only said, “Aur bhi gham hain zamane mein mohabbat ke siwa” (there are other sorrows in life apart from love) and did not answer the question. Maybe the government had to take the decision in a hurry under the circumstances, but it is never too late to bring its coalition partners – both at the Centre and at provincial level – on board and explain the reasons behind the decision seemingly taken in haste. Giving extensions in the army is not a good policy per se. The government had to swallow the bitter pill for the reasons that were cited by Prime Minister Gilani in his short national address.

The US too looks to be on General Kayani’s side. Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has endorsed Kabul talking directly to Islamabad, especially the top military brass of Pakistan. The US is of course thinking of a post-withdrawal Afghanistan and wants President Karzai to be on good terms with General Kayani in view of the geo-political situation. It is hoped that this extension would prove its worth for the country.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Anonymous said…
hmmm ...

a1jnb :p

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