In times of confusion, old adages offer prescience. And this one will be particularly useful when it comes to Pakistan — ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t’. Before we rush in to rejoice over the apparent discord between Pakistan’s civil and military administration over its terror operatives, it would be useful to remember that when it comes to Pakistan, nothing is at it seems. File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The present conjecture has arisen out of a single source, a report from Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper that leaks details of an “extraordinary meeting” where Pakistan’s civil administration purportedly told the military chiefs that they should either rein their terror puppets or the country faces “diplomatic isolation”. According to Dawn, the meeting between Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a small but powerful coterie of government and military officials including ISI chief Rizwan Akhtar resulted in two decisions. One, military-led intelligence agencies won’t interfere if law enforcement acts against militant groups and two, fresh attempts will be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court. To assume that Pakistan’s civil administration has asked the Rawalpindi khakis to act against militants requires major suspension of disbelief. It would mean that going against Pakistan’s historical subversion of power and the civil administration’s total irrelevance, Nawaz Sharif has miraculously found a spine. We are talking about a country where the balance of power between elected government members and the army is so heavily skewed that nobody even in Pakistan believes that the Prime Minister enjoys any autonomy of power. There have been umpteen reports and even social media memes on how the speech read out by Nawaz Sharif at the UN General Assembly, where he praised a terrorist as a martyr and immeasurably weakened Pakistan’s case, was vetted by Rawalpindi GHQ. Also, professor C Christine Fair of the Georgetown University, author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War and a noted south Asia analyst, was quick to point out that the clever differentiation being attempted between Pakistan’s civil and military dispensation is false, because when it comes to rearing, nurturing and exporting terror, the Nawaz Sharif government is as culpable as the army or ISI.