MPs’ briefing at GHQ

General KayaniAt a briefing for members of the Senate and National Assembly Standing Committees on Defence held at GHQ on Tuesday, military top brass, including the COAS, DG ISI and DG Military Operations, explained the army’s position on several points of Pakistan’s security concerns.

As the briefing was in-camera, no formal statement was issued, but press reports based on disclosures of parliamentarians in attendance, confirm that the army will be acting in line with the policies laid down by the political leadership on vital issues. This will, for the time being, assuage fears in some circles, against the backdrop of the country’s present situation, about the possibility of armed forces’ interference in politics. COAS General Kayani reaffirmed that the army would follow the guidelines given by the ruling political leadership, whether they pertained to the launching of an operation against terrorists or dealing with drone attacks.

The Standing Committee members were informed that it was the government’s responsibility to implement decisions made at the all parties’ conference about the troublesome Pak-US relationship and develop a consensus on the line of action to be taken against drones. As US drone attacks continue, unrelented, in our tribal areas, the total disregard of Pakistani pleas for stopping them is surely an embarrassment for the government and a violation of the sovereignty it and the army is sworn to defend in letter and spirit.

General Kayani has left it to the government to decide whether to hold talks with the Taliban. He reassured the meeting that Pakistan had no intention of launching an armed action in North Waziristan and there could be no question of a compromise on national honour in developing relations with the US. In reply to a question from an MNA, ISI chief Lt-Gen Pasha said that the army had repeatedly asked ISAF to act against militants, like Fazlullah (who is presently based in Afghanistan), but it had failed to respond positively. “We are not involved in Afghanistan, but we expect them to eliminate militants just like they expect us to,” he was quoted as saying.

This is yet another instance of the US-backed Karzai government’s duplicitous attitude towards Pakistan. General Kayani rejected the perception that Pakistan wanted to control Afghanistan; rather it was in favour of peace and stability there. He maintained at the meeting that the US had been informed that Pakistan did not require military aid. As yet, 20 percent of the amount promised under the Kerry-Lugar Act has been paid.The ball has now been hit to the government’s side of the court. After the army’s willingness to forego military aid, it is up to the government to chalk out a clear and unambiguous policy that is consistent with the demands of dignity and honour of a sovereign state.