ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday called on newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for the first time since he took over after Imran Khan's ouster, ending speculation about his failure to greet the new premier.
The Prime Minister's Office tweeted a short video clip of the meeting along with a brief statement. "Professional matters pertaining to national security were discussed during the meeting," according to the statement.
The meeting was much-awaited because General Bajwa was not present at the oath-taking ceremony of the prime minister, setting rumor mills to work overtime about the absence. However, military spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar clarified later on that General Bajwa could not attend the oath-taking ceremony of the premier on April 11 as he was sick.
Unlike his brother Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz enjoys cordial relations with the powerful Army, according to experts. The military has a history of dabbling in Pakistani politics and so far at least four military rulers have collectively ruled for about half of the history of the country.
However, Major General Babar Iftikhar, in his latest press conference, announced that the Army had taken a decision to stay away from politics. Khan was ousted after he lost a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly earlier this month, becoming the first prime minister in Pakistan to be removed unceremoniously from power.
The powerful Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. Khan, who was ousted from power last week, had apparently lost support of the Army after he refused to endorse the appointment of the ISI spy agency chief last year.
Finally he agreed but it soured his ties with the Army.