PM Nawaz, Army Chief stress national interest

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday met with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif at the Prime Minister House to discuss the security situation in the country.

“There was a consensus on the need to resolve the ongoing issue expeditiously in the best national interest,” said a short statement issued from the PM House shortly after the meeting.

Matters pertaining to ongoing political protests in the federal capital were discussed, sources said. The issue of recent border skirmishes was also a subject of discussion in the meeting.

Sources said both the prime minister and the army chief agreed to immediately resolve the political cul-de-sac.

A political deadlock currently clouds the political horizon of the country as two political parties Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have been holding anti-government protests for more than two weeks.

The protesters holding sit-ins in the federal capital are demanding the ouster of the premier through his resignation, with PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri calling for an overhaul of the system altogether.

This is not the first time during the ongoing political turmoil that the army chief and the prime minister have met to discuss a possible a solution to end the deadlock. In recent weeks, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif have also met with the army chief.

The political confrontation has revived concerns about the conventional issue in Pakistani politics: competition for power between the military and civilian leaders.

Some officials have accused elements within the powerful military of orchestrating the protests to weaken the civilian government.

The military insists it does not meddle in politics. Most analysts doubt the military wants a coup, but a perception is widespread that it could exploit the protests to pressure the civilian government.

Despite those perceptions, Sharif is relying on the military for security in the face of the challenges. Recently, policies that the armed forces object to, such as the treason trial of former military leader Pervez Musharraf, have ground to a halt.