Mukhtar: always wide of the mark


Things rarely seem to go according to whatever plan Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has when he makes statements that are almost immediately rejected by his colleagues in the government as well as other parties concerned.
Within hours of his statement on Wednesday that Pakistan had “told” the United States to vacate the Shamsi Airbase, a military installation known to be used by the CIA to launch drone attacks into Pakistan’s tribal areas, the US categorically rejected it. To add insult to injury, the US said it had no intention of abandoning the airbase even if it were told to do so.
Mukhtar’s statement also collided head-on with one made by the air force chief at the joint session of parliament in the wake of the May 2 US raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The PAF chief had said that the airbase in question was being used by the UAE.
The defence minister – who seems to be focusing most of his time on defending his own words rather than the country these days – was negated also by Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan on Friday, who denied outright Mukhtar’s claims regarding the Shamsi Airbase and said they were a “creation of the media”.
Not too long ago, Mukhtar also claimed that the Gwadar port had been handed over to China to manage, and the Chinese government had accepted. An outcry later in the day exposed that claim to be a castle in the air as well, with China stating it most certainly had not agreed to any such deal, and that the port remained under the management of the Port Authority of Singapore.