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Mumbai’s Pakistan Fall Out : PPP Confronts the Army
|by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle|
An unintended fall out of the Mumbai Terror Strikes 26/11 has been the confrontation between the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Army. The power games between the Army and the Government in Islamabad began with consolidation by the PPP through political maneuverings. President Asif Ali Zardari swore in 40 new members to the federal cabinet, including 22 federal ministers and 18 state ministers. While this created a gigantic cabinet at the Centre, it has accommodated a large number of possible dissidents including Fahim who was one of the Prime Ministerial candidates of the PPP. However elements of the MQM and the JUI F remain unhappy with distribution of portfolios.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared on 28 November that the National Security Council (NSC) constituted during former president Pervez Musharraf's regime has been dissolved. The decision was supported by the President and in principle by the key opposition leader, Mian Nawaz Sharif. However it was not clear if the okay of the Army brass had been obtained or the government would have to retract the order in the same manner as placing the ISI under the interior ministry earlier. The NSC is seen as an instrument used by President Musharraf to impose Emergency from time to time and its abolishing would ensure that the military cannot dominate the political leadership but this remains a small victory.
The Mumbai terror attacks on 26 November also ironically brought into focus the divide between the army and the government. Indian authorities demanded that the chief of the ISI should visit India to share intelligence as a number of clues indicated complicity of the agency. Pakistan's Prime Minister, Mr Yousaf Raza Gillani agreed to send the Director General (DG). Pak Army spokesman, Maj. General Athar Abbas however indicated that there was no consensus on this decision and said that there is a need to avoid the blame game. Gradually Pakistani authorities have diluted the requirement from the DG ISI to a Director and finally come down to sending a Director only if there was a credible case made by the Indian government.
It is apparent that while the government was willing to send the ISI Chief, the invisible hand of the Army under whom the ISI functions has finally had its say. With the army and the government speaking in two voices, there is little hope that the situation would be resolved and this may only increase the cleavage between the two. Abolition of the NSC at this time may also raise many differences. Thus civil military relations would suffer another road block in the process of transformation in Pakistan, probably an unintended consequence of terror attack on Mumbai.
Ironically this has removed the very basis for intervention of a special envoy in Kashmir proposed by some of Obama's advisers for the key issue between India and Pakistan remains sponsored terrorism.
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