A National Security Council for Pakistan: another turn of the wheel

Ahmed Rashid, with an overview of Nawaz Sharif’s challenges, in the FT:

Mr Sharif realised he had to simultaneously construct a security strategy to counter the violence before he could get investment and the economy moving. The result has been intense daily discussions led by Mr Sharif with the powerful military, intelligence agencies, experts and others on how to create a civilian-led national security strategy and even the setting up of a national security council under the prime minister – a first for Pakistan […] The answer for Pakistan is a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy that brings together military operations, political initiatives, reconciliation and economic development – something that has never been tried and certainly not since the growth of violence after September 11 2001. For the first time there is also hope that such a strategy will be led by a permanently staffed national security council that brings together the military, intelligence, bureaucrats and civil society experts.

From Time magazine, in 1998:

Speaking at the Naval War College in Lahore on Oct. 5, [then Army chief, General Jehangir] Karamat fired several well-aimed salvos at [then Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif. He blamed the nation’s politicians for carrying out vendettas and insecurity-driven and expedient policies while Pakistan capsized. Karamat called for the creation of a three-tiered national security council that would include the military, credible advisers and a think tank of experts. Despite Karamat’s call for a larger military role, few Pakistanis believe he was trying to topple Nawaz Sharif’s elected government. This was a warning, says former army chief of staff Mirza Aslam Beg, not a plan to get rid of Sharif. The Prime Minister wasn’t so sure, fearing that the proposed council would impose itself over elected legislatures at both the federal and provincial levels. He ordered Karamat’s words to be deleted from reports on the state-run television and radio stations, the first time a Prime Minister has dared to censor the Pakistani military.With that, Pakistan’s leader was on a collision course with its army chief. Two days after the speech, Nawaz Sharif forced Karamat to resign […] To succeed Karamat, the Prime Minister elevated Lieut. General Parvez Musharraf, a corps commander who may be more supportive than his predecessor [!].

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