Islamabad, May 19 (IANS) A Pakistani newspaper Sunday lauded army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for breaking convention and calling on incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“The meeting augurs well for a smooth and trouble-free transition within the country keeping the larger national security interests in view,” The News International said in an editorial.
The daily described Kayani’s gesture to call on Sharif at the latter’s Punjab residence as “unprecedented” in the history of Pakistan.
“This is a common enough occurrence in other countries but not so in Pakistan where army chiefs have always been seen – and many have behaved – as the real power-brokers who cannot be seen to be sucking up to the ‘bloody civilians’,” the editorial said.
It said Gen Kayani, “through his laid back and consistent display of restraint and patience during the last five years, has proved things could be different.
“His visit to Raiwind Saturday to meet Sharif will go down in our history as some sort of a first.
“The two men are the key players for the time being, especially in matters relating to the security situation within the country and the region,” it said.
Kayani and Sharif met for a few hours Saturday and also had lunch. Details of what they discussed have not been revealed.
The daily said Sharif needed to be in the picture on security issues and no one could have briefed him better than Gen Kayani, given that it was he who has met US Secretary of State John Kerry and top Nato commanders.
It said the main topic of their discussion would obviously have been “the smooth and timely withdrawal of the US-Nato troops from Afghanistan”.
“Gen Kayani’s commitments, or understandings with US-Nato leaders, if any, would thus be important and he would have conveyed them to the PM-in-waiting.”
The daily said the meeting would also be a key factor in another matter of national importance.
“Gen Kayani is to retire in a few months and, being a central player in the war on terror for the last many years, it would be for Sharif to decide whether he needs to keep on benefitting from his services.”
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has won a majority in the National Assembly and is set to form a new government, replacing the one led by the Pakistan Peoples Party.