Something is going on behind the scenes, said SAMAA TV talk show host Nadeem Malik, while commenting on an important press conference that the director-general of the army’s Inter-Services Public Relations wing, Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor, held on Wednesday afternoon.
He obliquely referred to a meeting in Rawalpindi with the prime minister, but he did not name those who met him. Nadeem Malik said that this key meeting was held a day before Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met Chief Justice Mian Saquib Nisar, which had led him to conclude that something was going on behind the scenes.
Malik referred to the DG’s remarks that the army has nothing to do with any National Reconciliation Ordinance or NRO, which is political short form for pardoning corrupt political parties. This sentence is a big headline for me, he added.
However, the ISPR DG did the right thing by declining to comment on about Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Abbasi and Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, which had led to great speculation that some NRO was in the offing. “It wasn’t his domain to speak on the issue,” Malik said, adding that Prime Minister House should have released details of what the two discussed as they were answerable to the public.
He added that he did not understand why the chief justice and the PM met, as the CJP was not hearing the Panama case anymore. It is now in an accountability court. “We have yet to get a response from anyone on what could be an NRO,” said Malik. “Similarly, how can the army deliver an NRO? So, in my opinion this is a strong statement that the army has nothing to do with any NRO.”
Nadeem Malik added that the army had reservations about the country’s economic management, an opinion it had aired through the DG ISPR publicly at a seminar in Karachi last year.
18th Amendment and the provinces
SAMAA TV Awaz host Shahzad Iqbal said that no discussion on the “reversal” of the 18th Constitutional Amendment had taken place in the meeting between the Army chief and anchorpersons.
COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa had met a group of journalists and TV anchorpersons to outline what came to be described as the “Bajwa doctrine” which anchorpersons called a template for peace and security for Pakistan and the region.
The meeting last month was stated to be off the record. Analyst Imtiaz Gul had written about the meeting in an article that appeared in Daily Times. He quoted the army chief as saying that, “indiscriminate application of laws is absolutely essential if Pakistan has to extricate itself from the vicious cycle of misgovernance and selective application of laws.”
SAMAA TV’s Shahzad Iqbal added: “There was a discussion on capacity building of the provinces. They think the provinces didn’t have enough capacity to deal with the challenges of security, health and education.”