In the endlessly eventful theater of politics in Pakistan, the relationship between the civilian government and the military establishment has been that of tacit compromise, occasional exchanges of thinly-veiled jabs and, as we have witnessed at least thrice, Martial Law. Therefore, the current attempt by Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan at comforting an increasingly cynical public with reassurances that all is well between the khaki uniform and the starch-stiff black vests, comes as no surprise. In fact, one begins to expect the standard clarification from the Interior Ministry shortly after yet another episode of indigination felt by the military. It is just that, this time, the claim that “there is no rift” isn’t exactly fooling anyone.

It’s a case of touchy egos. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s heated remarks against Musharraf were, at the end of the day, solely meant for Musharraf and the ongoing trial. COAS Raheel Sharif maintains every right to be wary of anti-military sentiments (after all, this is Pakistan where the botched narrative on the armed forces can be easily co-opted by extremist miscreants) but he ought to understand that the remarks were not aimed at the military institution itself. Ultimately, the time wasted on this trading-off of digs and then explanations comes at a high price, specifically involving our faltering security strategy.

The tension – if that’s what we can call it – is based on two frontiers: That of the army’s general annoyance with the incumbent government’s insistence on a legal process to run its course and, secondly, the same government’s dysfunctional effort to negotiate a peace deal with an inveterate Taliban. This is where, belying Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan’s statement on the apparent progress made with the Taliban, the contradiction becomes most evident. The most recent proof of it? The twenty citizens killed in a vegetable market in Islamabad.

This is to say, no one is really faultless in our bloodied spectacle of Pakistani politics. If we were to learn from history – as do sensible ones – we would take this time to leave behind this constantly-spoken-of “rift.” Now is the time to consolidate efforts in establishing a united civilian and military front in the face of a plethora of existential dangers to Pakistan. Given our rapidly worsening regional condition and with a NATO withdrawal in the pipeline, any fracture of trust in the civil-military relationship will only spell more carnage for the country.