Riyadh helped thaw the frost in Islamabad

Monday, January 16th, 2012 6:00:08 by
Shah Abdullah 13827

 

ISLAMABAD: The road from Islamabad to Rawalpindi goes through Riyadh, especially in times of crisis.

Influential royals from the Middle East were once again at work last week, defusing the escalating standoff between the civilian dispensation and the military, say sources privy to last week’s dramatic developments. And the backdoor manoeuvres are already producing results, they add.

It was at a midnight-to-dawn meeting at the Saudi embassy on the night between Wednesday and Thursday last week that helped both the civilian and the military leadership to withdraw from their maximalist positions.

Hosted by Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz bin Ibrahim Saleh al Ghadeer, the reconciliatory huddle was attended by top civilian and military leadership, including individuals who had been at each other’s neck, insiders said.

The meeting took place after a charged day of barbed exchanges between the government and the military. The army publicly rebuked the prime minister for his remarks on the army and intelligence chief’s replies to the Supreme Court in the Memogate case; the premier sacked the defence secretary, a retired general purportedly close to the General Headquarters.

While there was no confirmation on who, on behalf of the military, attended the Saudi-backed gathering, at least one source said it was none other than Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Officials from the civilian intelligence agency deployed on the road leading to the compound of the Saudi embassy told The Express Tribune that they saw the protocol and security motorcade of a four-star general in the area.

The tinted glasses of the bulletproof Land Cruisers, however, made it impossible to see who was in the vehicle.

It was also not known who represented the government at the meeting but some officials said those in attendance were close aides of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. They might have been the same aides negotiating with the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on a political way out of the current crisis, sources add.

The latter half of the week bore testament to Riyadh’s assistance. The army chief had a one-on-one meeting with the president and the prime minister praised the military, reassuring that he respected it as an institution, but advised it to “work within its constitutional confines.”

Political observers say mediation between the civilian and military authorities of Pakistan by Saudi Arabia is not surprising because not only the kingdom, but also its monarch King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz holds great sway amongst Pakistan’s political and military elite.

Saudis, they add, have always played a significant role in civilian-military negotiations, citing the deal between former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, when the former went into exile in 2000, and returned to Pakistan in 2007.

When contacted, however, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan denied that such a meeting ever took place.

“We respect leaders from across the world for supporting democracy in Pakistan … but we can handle our internal issues ourselves,” the minister added.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2012.



Islamabad News Sources -2

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Posted by on Jan 16 2012. Filed under Breaking News, International, Latest News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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