ISLAMABAD - Contrary to what the political government projected, the National Security Conference did not discuss the ongoing political crisis . Instead, the plight of North Waziristan IDPs was the centrepiece of the discussions of the participants with the army’s top brass, according to several politicians who attended the meeting.
The hurriedly convened high-level meeting on national security comes at a time when the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) seemingly feels besieged by the looming marches of opposition forces like Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI).
Insiders told The Nation that the army’s top command was showered with questions by politicians but the queries were related to the ongoing military offensive in volatile North Waziristan and the plight of people that have fled their native towns.
One of the participants said that Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif lent ears to those politicians who discussed the progress of army’s offensive or asked queries about the IDPs and ignored questions related to internal politics.
“I think interior minister has already made clear the imposition of article 245 in Islamabad,” a source quoted Gen Raheel Sharif as replying to a politician that sought the logic behind deployment of military in Islamabad.
Though Prime Minister Sharif while addressing participants of the conference talked about Imran Khan’s demands and Dr Qadri’s protest plans, sources said the military leadership was tight-lipped over discussing internal politics in country.
Instead the military’s top brass, sources said, briefed the meeting about the presence of foreign militants in North Waziristan, asking political forces and government to extend all-out help to the displaced people that have fled the tribal area.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman complained about arrest of his party workers and innocent civilians by security forces in North Waziristan. “Provide us names of people that have been arrested and they will be released if proven innocent,” a source quoted Gen Sharif as giving assurance to Fazl.
Senator Afrasiab Khattak told The Nation that the meeting discussed security situation in tribal areas, relations with Afghanistan, IDPs and cross-border terrorism, adding that internal politics seemed a trivial affair at a time when the country was on its toes to fight militancy.
“What I emphasised in the meeting was that we cannot purge our country of terrorism until we take Afghanistan in confidence. Both countries share porous border so there is greater need for greater coordination between the two sides,” Khattak said.
JI chief Sirajul Haq was quoted by a source to have told the military command to complete the ongoing assault in North Waziristan at the earliest. But Haq was told that the military could not give exact timeframe of concluding the operation, as there were still foreigners in certain pockets including Shawal area of North Waziristan that would be cleared soon.