'Old habits die hard': Pak army chief's US outreach sparks row

Islamabad [Pakistan], August 1 (ANI): Pakistan army Gen Qamar Bajwa has come under fire for the phone call he made to a senior US State Department for securing the disbursement of IMF funds to help the country’s ailing economy.

A Nikkei Asia report revealed how Pakistan’s most powerful man Bajwa made an appeal for the White House and Treasury Department to push the IMF to immediately supply nearly USD 1.2 million that Pakistan is due to receive under the resumed loan program.

Bajwa’s appeal to the US comes as he is putting efforts to pull Pakistan out of its economic mess.

Despite the supposed best intentions, the Pak army chief’s phone conversation last week with the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman once again shows the “ad nauseam” that the country’s military has “nothing to do with politics”.

In a Dawn editorial published on August 1, the Pakistani newspaper questioned the floundering of institutional boundaries that the Pakistani army claims to respect. It said the recent political developments in Pakistan have pivoted around this claim.

“But old habits die hard. And the urge to ‘shepherd’ matters that clearly belong in the civilian domain has once again manifested itself,” the newspaper says.

“The blurring of institutional boundaries over several years, not to mention outright military takeovers, has led to a regrettable situation in which civilian governments are perceived as perpetual underlings of the security establishment, unable to take independent decisions without the latter’s endorsement,” it added.

The editorial said the military has used its coercive power and a sense of entitlement that comes from having been in the driving seat for much of Pakistan’s history, to muscle its way into areas purely in the civilian domain.

According to the Pak newspaper, Gen Bajwa has waded even further into matters beyond the realm of security than did his predecessors.

The recently ousted former Prime Minister Imran Khan slammed Bajwa, saying that it was not the job of the army chief to deal with economic matters.

“If these reports are correct that [Chief of Army Staff] General Bajwa is seeking America’s help in getting IMF [loan] it means that the country is getting weaker,” The Express Tribune quoted him as saying in an interview.

“If America helps us in the current situation, what will it demand in return for help? I fear that the security of the country will be weakened,” Imran said.

Although the PTI chief appeared to have criticised Bajwa for contacting the US official, the Dawn editorial pointed out that it was Imran Khan who as prime minister happily let Gen Bajwa ‘mentor’ him on trips to Saudi Arabia and China to ask for financial assistance.

The newspaper said Bjawa’s foray into economic diplomacy may have been driven by concern but it underscores his institution’s outsize footprint in the country’s affairs. (ANI)

Disclaimer: This report is automatically generated from worldwide news services. NTN is not responsible for its content and does not moderate it.

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