ISLAMABAD - Defence Minister Kh Muhammad Asif has distanced himself from the affairs of the Ministry of Defence, following the civil-military conflict, what many believe emanated from his harsh and scathing statement against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf after his indictment in the high treason case and that too on the floor of the National Assembly.
Although Kh Asif had rarely visited his office in the Ministry of Defence located in Rawalpindi after getting the additional charge of the ministry, after the development of bad taste with the armed forces he further kept himself aloof from the ministerial affairs, a source in the ministry revealed.
He was so indifferent from the affairs of the Defence Ministry that the letter asking Pemra to initiate legal proceedings against Geo TV was sent to him in the federal capital for signatures as he had expressed his inability to visit his office in the ministry in Rawalpindi.
Well-placed sources in the Ministry of Defence disclosed that Kh Asif had distanced himself from the affairs of the ministry, following the strong reaction shown by the armed forces on his statement.
The sources further said Kh Asif, on the direction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, tried to mend fences with the military top brass, but the tempers in the military circles are still high.
It was in this backdrop that on the eve of the prime minister’s visit to Kakul Academy to see the passing-out parade of cadets, Kh Asif was ignored by the military leadership to the level of embarrassment, which further pushed him away from the additional charge.
Asif was given the additional charge of the Defence Ministry to avoid appearance of the prime minister, who was also holding the portfolio of defence with him, in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in missing persons’ case, which had called the defence minister to appear in person before the court. Since then the portfolio had been with Kh Asif and, interestingly, he had left his main Ministry of Water and Power at the disposal of State Minister Abid Sher Ali.
The people close to Kh Asif say he has turned all his focus and energies on the Ministry of Water and Power in the face of the looming challenge of loadshedding in the coming summer.
It is not clear whether the portfolio of the Ministry of Defence would remain with him, but at his private meetings with his close friends, he seemed thanking Allah Almighty for getting rid of the additional charge of this ministry.