ISLAMABAD: The army said on Thursday Pakistan did not become part of NATO’s enquiry into its deadly air strike in Mohmand Agency last month because it did not expect any tangible results from the probe and doubted it would be transparent, as the Parliamentary Committee on National Security sought from the government details of the agreements and assurances, verbal or written, made with the US and NATO so as to formulate its recommendations for parliament vis-à-vis new terms of engagement on cooperation in the war on terror.
Military sources told Pakistan Today no tangible results were expected from the NATO probe into the strikes since nothing of consequence had emerged from earlier investigations into such cross-border attacks by US and allied forces. They said Pakistan had also decided to increase the number of border posts that coordinated activities with the US and allied forces in Afghanistan. “The number of border coordination posts jointly operated by Pakistani, Afghan and NATO forces along the border with Afghanistan will be increased from four to five,” a source said.
STRIKE PRE-PLANNED: Meanwhile, Director General Military Operations Major General Ashfaq Nadeem said the NATO air strike was pre-planned. Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Defence, which met with Senator Javed Ashraf Qazi in the chair on Thursday, Gen Nadeem said after the attack on Salala checkpost it was wrongly conveyed to the Pakistani side that the Volcano checkpost had been attacked. “When the company commander rushed to the checkpost, he saw that NATO helicopters had returned after destroying the two checkposts,” he said.
The bunkers were specifically targeted and destroyed, he added. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security headed by Senator Raza Rabbani told the government to provide details of the agreements and assurances, either verbal or written, made with the United States and NATO for it to formulate recommendations for parliament with regards to new terms of engagement on counter-terrorism cooperation.
“The committee has decided to summon the officials of the Foreign Office and Defence Ministry in its next meeting to be held on December 13 so as to apprise it about the agreements and assurances given to the US and NATO, either verbal or written, before it formulates recommendations for parliament,” Rabbani told reporters as the committee met here at Parliament House. He said the Defence Ministry would also be asked to give its input on the agreements and assurances.
Rabbani said the committee took up two issues in the meeting, the NATO attack on Pakistani checkposts and the memo issue. He said the committee had decided to summon all concerned who, in any way, could help the committee in reaching the facts. “After the committee discusses all the facts in light of the agreements and assurances given by the Pakistani government to US and NATO, it would formulate its recommendations for parliament to be discussed in the joint session,” he said.
However, he added that parliament could discuss and review the recommendations. He said the basic direction in the recommendations would remain the same as was provided in the parliamentary resolutions on the subject. To a question, Rabbani said it was up to the government whether to table the recommendations in the joint session to be addressed by the president or to summon a separate session for the purpose.
On the memo issue, Rabbani said the committee had chalked out a work plan on how to proceed in this regard. A committee member, on condition of anonymity, told Pakistan Today that the committee had decided to take up the NATO attack first and the issue of the memo would be taken up later. The committee decided that all the evidence on the memogate scandal would be collected first and then all the witnesses would be summoned, said the member.
RABBANI BRIEFS: Senator Rabbani also called on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani here at PM’s House on Thursday and briefed him and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the decisions taken by the committee. Rabbani briefed the prime minister about the cooperation required from various ministries of the federal government. A source said Rabbani also discussed how the committee would deal with the memo controversy, since the Supreme Court had already taken up the matter.Pakistan’s Ambassador-designate to the US Sherry Rehman was also present at the meeting. – PT