ISLAMABADThe Cabinet Committee on National Security vowed to take all appropriate measures to improve internal security, which is vital for the economic and social development of the country, and decided to carry forward the strategy of engaging with those militants who are receptive to peace initiatives. The top civil and military leadership sat across the table on Thursday, under the chair of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and discussed the overall security situation in the country with a specific reference to the ongoing talks with militants in the backdrop of Taliban’s ending the ceasefire, Karachi operation and the country’s economic direction. The meeting had gained importance in the wake of the alleged differences between the military and the civilian leadership that have set off all kinds of rumours. Interestingly, no specific details of the meeting were made public and there was no public word about the civil-military tiff. The press statement released by the PM Office did not touch upon this issue, but government sources said that it was agreed in the meeting that heads of all institutions would refrain from issuing negative statements.It was the third meeting of the Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) since its inception where the top civil and military leadership gathered to formulate policies relating to the national security in the light of input from the leadership. The CCNS fully endorsed the government’s agenda of consolidating the economic gains for the collective good of the nation by providing enabling security environment for sustainable economic growth in the coming years. Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz, Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif, Chairman JCSC Gen Rashad Mahmood, PAF chief Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Asif Sandila, ISI Director-General Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam and IB DG Aftab Sultan were present at the meeting. Interior minister gave a briefing to the participants on the ongoing dialogue process with Taliban and their nominated committee members. Some of the participants expressed their concern over ending the ceasefire by the militants, but finally it was the consensus view of the participants to carry forward the peace process, a source in government informed The Nation. The military leadership in the past had made it clear to the government that they would observe restraint till the time the militants would follow suit, and in case of some disruptive activities on part of the militants, the Army would reserve the right to retaliate and they had done so in the past in the shape of surgical strikes when Taliban had slit the throats of 23 Frontier Constabulary personnel in their custody. It was decided that the same option of retaliation would be used if any militant group carries out a terror strike. The participants of the meeting also discussed the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi and expressed satisfaction over the targets achieved by law enforcement agencies. The Afghan presidential elections and its expected fallouts on ISAF drawdown from the war-torn country also came under review.Meanwhile, according to the handout issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier in his opening remarks said that the National Security Committee is an apex forum where every state institution gets an opportunity to provide input so that all national security-related decisions are taken through collective thinking. Interior Minister Ch Nisar in his briefing on the internal security situation also informed the participants about the situation in Balochistan and on the western border. The committee agreed that national security was of paramount importance for consolidating the economic gains that the government had achieved through sound macroeconomic policies and hard work of the economic team. The trust shown by the international community, especially the International Financial Institutions, or IFIs, in the government’s efforts to kick-start the economy, required an enabling security environment to achieve sustainable economic growth in the coming years. The committee was briefed on the prime minister’s recent visit to China, especially on Pakistan-China economic corridor and $35 billion worth of early harvest projects in energy, road infrastructure and railways. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar briefed the committee on improving economic indicators and Pakistan’s re-entry into the international bond market through successful launch of $2 billion Euro Bond.The committee reaffirmed the government’s resolve to improve relations with the neighbouring countries, making Pakistan an anchor of peace and stability in the region. The Pakistan-Afghanistan relations were discussed in the light of the recently held presidential elections in Afghanistan. The committee congratulated the Afghan people on successful elections and resolved to strengthen democratic institutions in Afghanistan. The Pakistan-India relations with special reference to the ongoing Indian elections were also discussed.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 18-Apr-2014 here.