Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interview to Times Now Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami seems to have created a flutter in Pakistani ranks. After the neighbours' Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz said in a reaction to Modi's sharp but balanced words on Pakistan saying that New Delhi was keeping a narrow concern in mind while engaging with Islamabad, the Foreign Office said on Thursday (June 30) that the Pakistani Army was not against against normalising relations with India. [Post Modi's interview to Times Now, are India and Pakistan hardening their stands?]
Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said at his weekly media briefing that "no amount of effort can create a wedge between the civil and military leadership of Pakistan"---leading Pakistani daily Dawn said.
Zakaria said this while responding to Modi's hinting at the civil-military imbalance in Pakistan which he said was obstructing his efforts to normalise the ties between the two neighbours. "who to talk to in Pakistan," the prime minister had asked while speaking to Goswami. [Why PM Modi's foreign policy looks attractive]
What Modi has said is nothing new. But since the Indian PM has said it, Pakistan is feeling a diplomatic pessure
What Modi said is nothing new. But since the prime minister, the chief executive of the country said it, it made a big difference and Pakistan was left to defend its position as a result. It is not unknown that the Pakistani Army has not been happy with the way the country's prime minister---Nawaz Sharif---has reciprocated to Modi's initiatives and wants him to just, as Christophe Jaffrelot has said--- "just government and not rule." The army there wants to grab the best of everything---like the nuclear programme and foreign affairs but leave the not-so-good domains for the prime minister, like for example, the economy.
Army will not want to come to the fore now like Musharraf had done in 1999
In fact, the Pakistani Army knows it very well that it is not possible to stage a 1999-like coup which had brought former army chief Pervez Musharraf to power, today. [Why Pakistan is not creating much noise over India's entry in MTCR]
For one, a political adventure could see Pakistan, already cornered on many fronts, suffering more as foreign aids could stop flowing in---seeing it trailing India further and secondly, the Pakistani democracy is somewhat better functioning today (the current Sharif regime will be the second one to complete a full term since Independence) where the citizens prefer a political stability to deal with the several internal challenges the country is facing today---be it economy, energy or terrorism. So the army will continue to play behind the scenes and continue with its veiled tug-of-war with PM Sharif.
Pak is experiencing a subtle tug-of-war now and that would keep it stable if not its politics certain
It is not that Sharif himself would want a power struggle with the army but at the same time, he would also have his democratic accountability to assert his authority ahead of the country's next general election in 2018.
The army, on the other hand, will also try to curb the Sharifs' influence in Punjab province of the country ahead of the polls [the army has already conducted security operations in that province in the wake of the Lahore blast in March which killed over 70, including women and children).
Pak army doesn't want perception kill its prospects
There is an equilibrium in Pakistani politics in the sense that both the civil and army establishments are engaged in a stalemate, trying covertly to outsmart each other. From India's perspective, it amounts to uncertainty but that neither the Pakistani Army nor Sharif are ready to go on the offensive now also provides a stabilising factor. The reaction from Pakistan that its army is not against the normalisation of relations with India proves that the outfit, which is otherwise known to be extremely hawkish on India, is giving its plans a second thought and trying hard to kill the perception about its anti-Indianism.
The pressure is clearly making Pakistan bending its own norms.