LAHORE - Though it is not an extraordinary action on part of the prime minister to address the passing-out ceremony of the military academy, the premier’s visit to Kakul is seen as a leap to curtail the bitterness between the two state institutions amid the reports of ‘strained civil-military relations’.

The most talked-about Defence Minister Khawaja Asif was also present on this occasion, who, according to many in the political circles, became a source of escalating bitterness between the top civilian and military leadership.

The political circles close to the ruling party’s top leadership, talking to The Nation on Saturday, maintained that think tanks had advised the party high command to join the military academy ceremony to dispel the impression concerning the strained civil-military relations.

They were of the opinion that the government could not afford clash with the military establishment at least during the current term in office.

The sources close to the military establishment told this correspondent that the military leadership was showing patience on the somersault of the rulers on certain issues, while the current year would decide the true fate of the government ties with the military.

Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, believed to be close to the military establishment, when contacted, said, “I don’t see that the gap between the two institutions has been bridged by the ruling party top leadership, however, they are making desperate efforts in this direction.”

He added, “The undercurrents are conveying that tension between the two state institutions will grow.

The prime minister’s visit to the military academy along with the defence minister could be considered as a step to repair the damaged relations, but not in totality.”

Rashid said: “The prime minister made the first attempt to decrease the growing tensions with the military establishment during a national security meeting some days back, but the desired results could not be achieved.”

Senator Kamil Ali Agha of PML-Q, when contacted, said, “There is no doubt that the tension is growing between the two institutions, however, the prime minister’s visit to the military academy should be seen as a minor move in that direction.”

He remarked: “There is a long list of the issues which created differences between the two institutions and one should not expect that a visit to the military academy and the National Security meeting could permanently end the civil-military tension.”

PTI senior leader Arif Alvi, expressing his opinion, said, “Nawaz Sharif, instead of taking care of the problem when it starts, always runs for ‘damage control’.

He took action when the things had almost reached point of no return concerning the civilian government relations with the military establishment. In the recent episode, the ruling party chief first made an effort to reconcile with another state institution at National Security Council meeting while Kakul’s visit was the second round.”

He said, “The ruling party under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif first decided to take Pervez Musharraf to task and now it is confused whether he should be allowed to leave the country or not.”

Alvi added: “There are unconfirmed reports that the defence minister will be relieved of his responsibilities and if it happens the PML-N rule would give an impression to their electorate that the civilian rulers have failed to protect the independence of the elected government and democracy.”