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