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Sharif's win leaves Pak army commanders worried

There is some unease among Pakistan's top military commanders over civil-military relations once Nawaz Sharif is sworn in as prime minister. Imtiaz Ahmed reports. Interview: Nawaz Sharif

india Updated: May 14, 2013 12:00 IST
Imtiaz Ahmed
Imtiaz Ahmed
Hindustan Times
Pakistan polls,Pakistan elections,Imtiaz Ahmed

There is some unease among Pakistan's top military commanders over civil-military relations once Mian Nawaz Sharif is sworn in as prime minister later this month.

Many of the appointees on the commanding positions of the army, including the corps commanders, were given promotions during the tenure of General Musharraf, including the current army chief, General Kayani.

Kayani also got an extension in service by President Zardari and at the time Nawaz Sharif was critical of the move, close aides of Sharif said.

More important, Sharif is keen that there is no repeat to what he faced when he was prime minister in 1999 and when General Musharraf, then army chief, authorised the military operation in Kargil.

Sharif is keen on having men he trusts in key positions of the army, and this possibly will start with the choice of army chief, when General Kayani is up for retirement later this year. In Pakistan, the prime minister now chooses all service chiefs from options presented to him by the defence ministry. Interview: Nawaz Sharif

What everybody looks for is who Sharif appoints as his minister for defence. His former interior minister and then leader of opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is tipped for this position.

Nisar, whose brother was a senior military commander who was sidelined by Musharraf, may have the required understanding of who the new government can work with in the coming days.

Sharif is keen to bring the army under absolute civilian control and has minced no words in saying so repeatedly over the past five years.

In some instances when the army could have helped him in creating trouble for the Zardari government, he did not play ball.

One prickly question is how Sharif will move on the question of General Musharraf. The army leadership has so far not interfered with the judicial process except possibly to insist that Musharraf stays in his farmhouse as against a jail, but now Sharif is pushing for Musharraf to be hanged for going against the constitution.

First Published: May 14, 2013 00:22 IST