Islamabad: Differences seem to have emerged among civilian government and military establishment in Pakistan. A report in Pakistani daily Dawn had suggested that there was a verbal duel between Pakistani Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and ISI chief Gen. Rizwan Akhtar during a high level meeting of top Pak ministers and military officials.
Shahbaz Sharif is the younger brother of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and holds immense power in overall running of administration in Pakistan.
There are reasons to believe that the civilian administration wants strict action against different militant groups active across Pakistan. Despite being a victim of terrorist herself, Pakistan has always differentiated between terrorists. They have bred pro military terrorists in different parts of Pakistan while taking action against the ones who defy them.
In the meantime under obvious pressure from world community, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has told the country’s all-powerful ISI to crack down on terrorists and end the Mumbai attack trial and the probe into the Pathankot strike — New Delhi’s two key conditions to resume peace talks with Islamabad. Sharif’s blunt demand came at a high-level meeting of civilian officials with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, Gen. Rizwan Akhtar.
Nonetheless Pakistani government has tried to play down the news. Dawn reported that Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told the meeting on Wednesday that Pakistan faced diplomatic isolation and its talking points had been met with indifference in major world capitals. Even China, Pakistan’s closest ally, had questioned the logic of repeatedly putting on technical hold a UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar, Chaudhry said, according to Dawn. Also, amid worsening India-Pakistan relations, a group of Senators asked Islamabad to resume its back-channel talks with New Delhi. And on Thursday, PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan denounced the government over its failure to curb non-state actors, leading to the country’s diplomatic isolation.
Reports suggest that the meeting — where there was an extraordinary verbal clash between the ISI chief and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister’s younger brother — came amid worsening ties with India. India called for Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation after the September 18 attack at an army camp in Kashmir that left 19 soldiers dead. India says the attackers came from Pakistan and belonged to the Jaish that was also blamed for the January 2016 Pathankot attack on an IAF base that killed seven security personnel. The Uri attack was followed by the Indian Army’s surgical strikes, dismantling at least seven terror launch pad and killing an unknown number of terrorists and their sympathisers across the de facto border in Kashmir.
It must be kept in mind that India’s diplomatic war on Pakistan led to the cancellation of the Saarc summit that Islamabad was to host in November. Major world countries have supported India’s demand to Pakistan to act against terrorist groups patronised by the ISI. Dawn reported that the government on Wednesday informed the ISI about the “growing international isolation of Pakistan and sought consensus on several key actions by the state” to reverse the situation. The daily said the government, in a “blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning”, asked military-led intelligence agencies “not to interfere if law enforcement acts against militant groups that are banned or until now considered off-limits for civilian action”.
Dawn said that Chaudhry informed the audience in the meeting that relations with the US had also deteriorated and may further deteriorate because of the American demand that action be taken against the Haqqani network, which is active in Afghanistan. The network has been blamed for attacks on Indian establishments in Afghanistan. Talking about worsening ties with New Delhi, the Foreign Secretary said India’s main demands were the completion of the investigation into the Pathankot attack and “some visible action” against the Jaish.
The daily adds, “To a hushed but surprised room, Chaudhry suggested that while China has reiterated its support for Pakistan, it too has indicated a preference for a change in course by Pakistan…The Foreign Secretary’s unexpectedly blunt conclusions triggered an astonishing and potentially ground-shifting exchange between the ISI chief and several civilian officials.”
It is being said that the official was asked to raise the question by none other than Nawaz sharif himself who wants some sort of action against terrorists. He is also an advocate on increased economic relations with India.