ISLAMABAD - Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar yesterday skipped a scheduled meeting of the Senate’s Committee of Whole House where he was to appear for an in-camera briefing to the lawmakers on the recent Pak-India tensions.

The senators from the opposition and treasury benches were demanding a briefing from the ISI DG on the situation arsing out of the Uri attack, atrocities committed by Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir and the latest developments on Pak-India escalations.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani had especially called the Committee of Whole House meeting on Wednesday for the briefing following an assurance by the ISI DG that he would appear before the Senate body.

An in-camera meeting of the Committee of Whole House was held under the chair of Raza Rabbani. A lawmaker who attended the in-camera sitting said the chairman informed the house that the ISI DG would not be available at Wednesday’s meeting because of his other professional commitments, so another meeting would be fixed for his briefing. He said the ISI chief had informed him about reasons for his unavailability.

Meanwhile, sources in the Senate Secretariat said ISI DG Rizwan Akhtar earlier met with the Senate chairman and both the sides discussed the situation on Pakistan-India tensions. The ISI DG asked the Senate chairman as to what kind of briefing the committee wanted from him. He also informed the chairman of the latest situation with regard to the recent escalation along the Line of Control (LoC). Even modalities had been decided for the briefing, the official sources added. However, Lt-Gen Rizwan, later, conveyed to the chairman that he would not come because of his unavailability in the capital on Wednesday.

An opposition lawmaker, wishing anonymity, confirmed the Senate chairman, at a lunch after the meeting of the Committee of Whole House, affirmed the ISI DG had met him. “We generally believe top military brass is either reluctant to face questions of lawmakers or they don’t want to appear before the parliamentary committees,” he said.

Mian Raza Rabbani, however, made it clear that any inference drawn from the DG’s unavailability would be wrong as he had got a positive response from him. The chair also said the ISI chief could not appear for genuine reasons, the legislator said.

The Committee of Whole House yesterday discussed the report of the 13-member body on draft policy guidelines to the government for adopting a robust strategy on the latest situation developing between India and Pakistan. The report was presented before the meeting.

The report has proposed to the government to adopt an aggressive policy against India and leave its apologetic behaviour towards the neighbouring country. It has also asked the government to activate Pakistani missions abroad to tell the world about aggressive designs of India. It has also asked for a permanent appointment of foreign affairs minister because without it Kashmir issue could not be raised properly at international level.

Asking the government to activate its policy on Held Kashmir, the 13-member committee proposed to the government to form Kashmir desks at foreign missions. It has also asked the government to contact secular parties of India for border de-escalation and other issues.

In the meeting of the Whole House held last Thursday, it had been decided to form a committee to prepare draft policy guidelines. PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar, who is also one of the 13 members of the drafting committee, said the draft report had not so far been finalised and another meeting of the Whole Committee would be summoned next week.

Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs and the defence secretary had briefed the committee in the meeting held on September 29 on the latest developments between India and Pakistan and the steps taken by the government in this regard.

The Senate chairman had referred the matter of Pakistan-India tensions to the Whole Committee following the demand of the lawmakers who wanted a detailed briefing from the civilian and military leadership on the issue.