Sharif has had a series of run-ins with the establishment over his three tenures that have led to removal from power twice
Dec 13, 2015
When Lt Gen Nasir Khan Janjua was appointed as national security adviser (NSA) in October, it signalled tightening of Pakistani military establishment’s control over the country’s security and foreign affairs.
The appointment had been in the works for months and was effected in particular to ensure the establishment had its man in the thick of engagements with India that restarted with Janjua’s meeting with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, in Bangkok on December 6. The need for someone like Janjua was felt after Sharif was seen to have given in again following his meeting with Indian PM Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia, in July.
The establishment was aghast to see its key concerns like Kashmir missing from the joint statement issued after the meeting and forced it to prevail upon Sharif to have Janjua replace his loyalist, Sartaj Aziz.
Aziz has been the odd one out as the only non-military NSA Pakistan has had so far.
Janjua fits the bill also because he retired as the chief of Pakistan army’s Quetta-based Southern Command, where he led anti-insurgency operations in Baluchistan.
His expertise is believed to be crucial as Islamabad seeks to counter allegations of fostering terror in India with accusations of India’s backing of Baluch insurgents.
Janjua was involved in Azm Nau (new resolve) war games as well. Azm Nau is a response to India’s Cold Start Doctrine that seeks to launch conventional strikes against Pakistan before the world comes to know about it without provoking a nuclear attack.
Janjua is seen to be the ideal person to keep Sharif on a tight leash vis-a-vis his India policy and deal effectively with his assertive Indian counterpart.
The establishment has long been suspicious of Sharif over his unilateral goodwill in defiance of its desire for parity with Delhi.
Janjua’s appointment is the latest compromise Sharif has made with the establishment since he faced third unceremonious removal from power when opposition leader Imran Khan led a campaign against him over “poll fraud” last year. Sharif has had a series of run-ins with the establishment over his three tenures that have led to removal from power twice.
He appeared to be once bitten twice shy when the army appeared to be the force behind the campaign to remove him in 2014. The army had booted Sharif first out of power in 1993 before he had his way briefly during his second stint.
Sharif forced army chief Jehangir Karamat to quit before the bid to sack his successor, Pervez Musharraf, boomeranged, leading to his exile.
He has acknowledged his India policy was partly responsible for his downfall in 1999 and his attempts to pick up the threads from where he had left then made things difficult for him in his current term. He backed good ties with India with calls for unilateral visa-free travel for Indians and Siachen demilitarization when he returned to Pakistan in 2007.
Sharif fought the 2013 election promising peace with India and declared his victory was a mandate for building bridges. He described peaceful relations with India as “the cardinal principle” of his foreign policy in his 2014 Independence Day speech.
Sharif earlier visited India to attend Modi’s inauguration defying hawks, whom he enraged further by defying the norm and not meeting Kashmiri separatists.
The alleged meeting gave grist to the rumour mill in Pakistan that Sharif ‘s steel business interests force him to bend over backwards to please India.
Courtesy: The Times of India