For instance, not to go long back in the history, Pakistan army had vehemently opposed the Nawaz Sharif’s bold initiatives to move quickly
to normalize the relations with India after assuming Prime Minister Office in 2013 — often even going beyond state protocol and opening backdoor channels. Similarly, Sharif and Army were on the different page over issues of a method when it came to tackling
terrorist safe havens inside the country where Sharif was not interested in launching operations from inside the country against the Taliban and other extremist actors. The government instead began peace talks with the terrorist outfits despite repeated advice
from the Pakistan Army to the contrary.
Is Imran-Bajwa drifting away?
It is believed that Army is not very happy with Imran Khan on the handling of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issue. Army is of the opinion that it did not face FATF sanctions when
Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf was president, though a number of terrorist groups operated openly. Army also feels
that earlier there was less global criticism of peoples’ disappearances and treatment of religious minorities. Bajwa had directly interfered in the recent cabinet reshuffle and new Interior Minister, Brigadier Ijaz Shah, allegedly appointed at the behest
of the army chief. Shah is alleged to have run terrorist operations in Jammu & Kashmir when he served in the Inter-Services Intelligence. This is being seen as an attempt to shift power away from Khan towards nominees of the military.
Another controversial appointment is that of Nadeem Babar, who is not a member of parliament, one of 16 such persons in Khan’s 47-member cabinet.
On the other hand, insiders say that Khan now wants to send a signal to the outside world that he is not the military’s puppet and should not be treated as one.
It is learnt that Khan has started snubbing Army Chief in one form or the other, which is likely to worsen civil government-military relations in the coming days. In a recent incidence when Khan went to inaugurate the Mohmand dam on May 2, the army chief requested
Imran to accompany him on his military plane to Mohmand Agency, Imran apparently refused on the grounds that since he had multiple programmes, he would prefer to fly separately. Even after the ceremony, Bajwa again requested Khan to accompany him on his plane to Peshawar to discuss
important issues, but Imran again avoided it saying he had other engagements. Bajwa also requested Imran Khan to offer some conciliatory gestures to the political opposition. However, PM Imran Khan criticized the opposition and refused to announce any conciliatory
gestures to the opposition, drawing ire of Bajwa, insiders point out.