What are talking heads saying about the Imran, Gen Bajwa meeting?

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Political commentators and Twitter users were intrigued last night when the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) tweeted about Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa meeting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday to congratulate him on his promotion and appointment.

As no substantial details of the meeting have been revealed, several commentators have interpreted the news as having a ‘greater meaning’ while others say it was routine and should be seen as a positive development.

Kamran Khan, journalist at Dunya News: ‘Nothing unusual’

“The timing of this meeting is important given the issues Pakistan is currently facing, such as the situation on our western border with Afghanistan and our eastern border with India.

Pakistan has a looming terrorist threat so it makes sense that country’s defense forces want all critical stakeholders to be united in its approach to tackling the issue.

If the major political players are on the same page, it is better for the country.

Also, I don’t think this was an unusual meeting; national politicians have met military heads in the past as well. I see it as a positive development for the benefit of the country. If the leadership is united, so will the nation be.”

Sabir Shakir, journalist at ARY News: ‘Message to politicians’

“I think it as a very significant development as we haven’t seen it happen in the past.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa meeting PTI Chairman Imran Khan symbolizes that every politician is of equal importance for him. In the past, armed forces have been seen siding with one political player.

But this meeting was out of the ordinary. It’s a message to all politicians in the country that the establishment or the military is not favoring any one party over the other. It shows the liberal policies of the armed forces and the open-mindedness of the military leadership.”

Nasim Zehra, journalist at Channel 24: ‘A confidence building measure’

“This was a significant meeting as it was the first time Imran Khan met Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

It should also be noted that PTI has not released any detailed statement regarding the meeting. Reports suggest that it was a one-on-one meeting between the two so it is safe to assume the discussion must have been on a specific agenda.

I think over the years, the involvement of military leadership in political matters have decreased. But it is there.

This meeting can be seen as a confidence-building measure to strengthen civil-military leadership, specifically sending a message that the army chief is not teaming up with any one political party. His position remains neutral.”

Rauf Klasra, journalist, and Urdu columnist: ‘Imran discussed Fata reforms’

“From what I know through my sources, Imran Khan met the army chief to primarily discuss the Fata reforms, which PTI ardently wants to introduce.

The PTI leadership is aware that the establishment has reservations against the Fata reforms. It does not think it wise to merge Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the leadership doesn’t see KP as developed enough to support a people from an entirely different, mountainous region.

KP is already rattled with terrorism and does not have a strong infrastructure. There are also cultural differences between the people of the two regions ─ you can’t just uproot people from the mountains and expect them to assimilate into cities like Peshawar.

On the flip side, a merger will benefit PTI politically as there are reports some 33 seats will be introduced in Fata. If the federal government decides to merge Fata with KP, it would greatly benefit Imran Khan. However, the merger is not possible without the support of the establishment. And that is what I think Imran and Gen Bajwa must have discussed ─ the pros of having the merger and the cons of not having one.”

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