In a political culture where courtesy calls and photo-ops are standard news fare, a small single column news item in most national newspapers ought to have gone ignored – were it not for the slightly odd nature of the meeting. A serving interior minister, it was reported, called on an ex-Army Chief -- not yet two days out of office – ostensibly to “thank him for his service”. Interior Minister Nisar’s almost obsequious addiction to etiquette where the ex-Chief is concerned, is a cause for concern. Especially when the official line states that the minister charged with internal security paid the retired general a visit to “congratulate him on successfully completing his tenure”.

The fact remains that no matter how superb the performance, unless the good minister decides to make it a habit to call on each and every retired government employee to congratulate them on completing their tenure, one is not entirely sure why he felt it necessary to so ingratiate himself to the former Chief of Army Staff? Is it not already known that the nation is grateful to him for his services? Is it not enough that the Defence Minister was present at the change of command ceremony in Gen (r) Kayani’s honour? Is it in any way implied that Mr Nisar Ali Khan’s personal guarantees are thus required to assure the retired chief of the nation’s regard for him?

Our gratitude and respect towards those protecting our homeland can never be enough, however we are also finally at a point in history where the seeds of democracy have a chance to take root. Haunted by a past of civilian subservience to the armed forces, it is imperative that Mr Nisar Ali Khan demonstrate a measure of restraint and decorum when acting in his official capacity. The rules of conduct of yesteryear must no longer apply today. If Interior Minister Nisar is so taken with an ex-Chief, only recently out of office, one is compelled to ask how he will conduct himself when faced with the newly installed COAS Raheel Sharif. It might be best for Mr Nisar to pay courtesy calls in private, and leave the official business of the Army to the Defence Minister.