ISLAMABAD - To improve the civil military relationship, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has finally decided to appoint a full time defence minister and he is going to take back the acting portfolio from Khwaja Asif during the next phase of expansion of cabinet.

A senior cabinet member privy to the development disclosed to The Nation that the decision was taken in a five-hour long meeting of Nawaz Sharif with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan wherein the prime minister agreed with the point of view of the interior minister.

According to the source, Nisar convinced the PM to take immediate steps to resolve the issues with the military leadership and Nawaz assured him of taking measures to bridge the gap.

Sources are confident that Lieutenant General (r) Qadir Baloch will be the successor of Khwaja Asif. The main reason to appoint him is his military background, but more significant than that is the fact that General Raheel Sharif had served Qadir Baloch as staff officer when Qadir was Gujranwala Corps Commander.

Gen Raheel and Qadir Baloch have a good working relationship in the past and have pleasant personal relations. It was in fact Lt-Gen (r) Qadir Baksh Baloch who had strongly recommended General Raheel Sharif for the post of army chief and convinced Nawaz Sharif for his appointment as COAS.

Despite Khwaja Asif’s being the defence minister, it is Gen Qadir who mostly accompanies ISPR director general and Information Minister Pervez Rasheed during the media briefings on operation Zarb-e-Azb. PM Nawaz Sharif, who initially himself held the portfolio of defence minister, had to bring in Kh Asif as defence minister in haste when Supreme Court summoned the defence minister in the Missing Persons’ case. Sources have also claimed that the PM offered Ch Nisar the defence ministry but he refused.

Defence production minister holds meetings in Belarus

Federal Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain along with Additional Secretary Major General Raza Muhammad is on an official visit to Belarus to attend the International Exhibition of Arms and Military Machinery MILEX-2014 held in Minsk, Belarus.

The world’s biggest defence firms are showcasing their products. On the 1st day of the event, the Minister held key meetings with officials of Ministry of Defence Belarus and discussed areas of mutual cooperation.

He highlighted the strides Pakistan has made in the field of defence production and significantly talked about the aircraft JF-17 being built in Pakistan. He added that Pakistan is producing the best armament and heavy machinery.

Our APCs are of B6 protection and are also developing B7 protection vehicles. These are low cost and state of the art equipment and Pakistan is proud of such developments.

He said that Pakistan looks forward to exploring international markets and wants the world to support it in its endeavors.