Military asks politicians to speak with one voice
Khawar Ghumman | Front Page | From the Newspaper
31st March, 2012
ISLAMABAD, March 30: In recent history, the night between Thursday and Friday turned out to be unique in that the countrys top military and civilian leadership (both from treasury and opposition benches) were in a huddle for eight hours to determine the contours of Pakistans future ties with the United States.
While the government and military officials wanted a speedy resolution of the Nato supply issue, the opposition parties dug their heels in and called for detailed explanations on all aspects ranging from drone attacks, footprint of foreign intelligence operatives and imposition of levy on future transportation of supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan.
According to insiders, on more than one occasions the opposition parties comprising the PML-N and JUI-F threatened to leave the meeting if they were not listened to carefully by the government and military authorities. They were of the opinion that every time when there was a crisis, politicians, particularly those belonging to opposition parties, were invited but their recommendations were never implemented in true letter and spirit. This time, they said, they wanted written assurances.
According to a participant of the meeting, the military authorities pushed hard for a collective stand by all political parties, particularly the PML-N, on the nature of future engagements the country wanted with the US and Nato.
At one point when Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan raised the issue of not taking parliament seriously by the powers that be, the military authorities argued that they always followed the government instructions.
In a nutshell, the participant said, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Director General Lt-Gen Zahirul Islam asked the government and opposition parties to take a united stand.
If you dont want drone attacks, you will have to decide it in so many words; we are there to follow your directions, a senior army official told the meeting.
The military top bosses also clarified to the politicians that they had not given any sort of assurances to their American counterparts in their recent meetings on the issue of restoration of Nato supplies.
According to the participant, Chaudhry Nisar alleged that decisions were taken during behind-the-scene meetings and that politicians were used only for cover-up purposes.
The meeting also consumed a good amount of time on the subject of sharing detailed information on intelligence operatives. The military authorities argued that no country in the world shared information on their intelligence networks.
One recommendation which all participants of the meeting agreed upon was to link reopening of Nato supply routes with the stoppage of drone attacks.
One of the participants suggested that an assurance should be sought from the US that it would not indulge in any kind of adventurism against Iran that could have disastrous repercussion for the country.
Finance and foreign ministers briefed the meeting on possible outcomes in case the country opted for a confrontational mode with the US.
About redrafting of the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, it was decided that the matter would be discussed during the joint sitting of parliament as well as informal meetings of the committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani.
Ahmad Hassan adds: A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security was held on Friday to revise its 16-point recommendations. A revised draft of the recommendations will be presented before a joint sitting of parliament.
PML-N secretary general Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who is a member of the committee, told Dawn that a formal meeting of the PCNS would be held on Saturday.
In order to remove reservations expressed by different political parties over the PCNS recommendations and to evolve a consensus on these in the joint sitting of parliament, the committee will hold its informal sittings and finalise a new draft, said an official statement.
Pakistan Airforce: The largest distributor of Indian airforce parts in Asia
8 F-86Fs of No 19 Squadron led by Squadron Leader Sajjad Haider struck Pathankot airfield. With carefully positioned dives and selecting each individual aircraft in their protected pens for their strafing attacks, the strike elements completed a textbook operation against Pathankot. Wing Commander M G Tawab, flying one of the two Sabres as tied escorts overhead, counted 14 wrecks burning on the airfield. Among the aircraft destroyed on the ground were nearly all of the IAFs Soviet-supplied Mig-21s till then received, none of which were seen again during the War.