Nawaz Sharif… will he be able to clear the mis­trust?

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK - Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

The re­turn of Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Min­is­ter of trou­bled state Pak­istan is seen by po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts as a good sign for the re­gion. Even be­fore he was sworn in as the Prime Min­is­ter for the third time in his che­quered po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, Sharif has reached out to In­dia, stat­ing that he wants to end the mis­trust which has been dog­ging In­dia-Pak­istan re­la­tions. That is in­deed a good be­gin­ning.

But that is the po­lit­i­cal side of Pak­istan. And Pak­istan’s polity, how­ever, demo­crat­i­cally elected it may be, seem­ingly has never been free of mil­i­tary in­flu­ence, if not dom­i­na­tion.

While Sharif may want to iron out the is­sues be­tween Pak­istan and In­dia, the mil­i­tary and also the non-state play­ers, will not go along with his line of think­ing and that seems to be clear. The fact that Sharif’s party gar­nered 118 of his 126 seats from the Pun­jab prov­ince and that the Pak­istan Peo­ple’s Party with 31 seats has been termed as a ‘Sindhi’ party. And Imran Khan’s 29 seats come from pock­ets of Khy­ber-Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and north­ern Pun­jab. The re­sults re­flect a frac­tured Pak­istani so­ci­ety. And do­ing a bal­anc­ing act for Sharif is not go­ing to be easy.

Ex­plain­ing the de­vel­op­ments are two of our dis­tin­guished ex­perts. First, in his anal­y­sis, Air Mar­shal (Retd) Anil Cho­pra traces the na­ture of Pak­istan’s po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary struc­tures and how the lat­ter over­rides most in­sti­tu­tions. He has rightly pointed out that Sharif’s im­me­di­ate con­cern should be to re­cover Pak­istan from a debt-rid­den econ­omy and take de­ci­sive calls on ter­ror­ism. For that he has to strengthen civil supremacy over the Army. He has to pos­i­tively en­gage with In­dia.

In his forth­right col­umn, Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch states if Sharif has the power and wants to truly have good re­la­tions with In­dia, he should make the In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­lignce (ISI) an­swer­able to the Pak­istani Par­lia­ment, con­trol his mil­i­tary and dis­man­tle the anti-In­dia ter­ror­ist in­fra­struc­ture in Pak­istan. He could sig­nal his sin­cer­ity by re­leas­ing all In­dian mil­i­tary pris­on­ers con­sid­er­ing that In­dia re­turned 93,000 Pak­istan pris­on­ers post 1971 War. In­deed, it is a tall or­der.

Mov­ing away from Pak­istan, we note that there is some head­way in the con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with re­gard to the medium-multi role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) deal with the Das­sault Avi­a­tion. That the Min­istry of De­fence is hop­ing to wrap up ne­go­ti­a­tions and be­gin work on a draft agree­ment by Au­gust-Septem­ber is wel­come.

Con­tin­u­ing on ac­qui­si­tions, the In­dian Navy re­ceived the first of the eight Boe­ing P-8I long-range mar­itime re­con­nais­sance and an­tisub­ma­rine war­fare air­craft which is ex­pected to greatly en­hance In­dia’s mar­itime sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity in the In­dian Ocean re­gion.

In this is­sue, we have an ar­ti­cle on how mil­i­tary helicopters dom­i­nate the world he­li­copter mar­ket and what the top global man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer and how they are strate­gis­ing to ex­pand their reach.

We so­licit feed­back from our val­ued read­ers on SP’s M.A.I., our con­tin­u­ous ef­fort to up­date you on the lat­est in the de­fence, aero­space and se­cu­rity world, ev­ery 15 days.

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