ISLAMABAD – Rejecting the possibility of a coup, military’s top brass on Thursday decided to address the misgivings of political leadership at relevant parliamentary platforms while clinging to toughened stance on memogate issue, review of ties with US and Nato supplies blockade.
The decisions were purportedly arrived at during the Corps Commander Conference and military’s Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) meeting chaired by the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the General Headquarters (GHQ). The much-hyped event had raised speculations in the backdrop of rising military-government confrontation, which became more apparent on Wednesday following military’s taking on the prime minister, sacking of defence secretary by the PM, appointment of new commander of 111 Brigade and reports about army chief’s convening of emergency meetings of Corps Commanders and PSOs on Thursday.
However, contrary to the widely-circulated speculations that military was bracing to send the government packing, the Thursdays’ developments laid to rest the rumours that army could act instrumental in aiding the government to embrace “political martyrdom”. Apart from the prevailing domestic and external issues entailing Pakistan Army, a host of military subjects including Pak-Afghan border issues, Pak-China renewed military commitments and operational adjustment; troops deployment and re-deployments in the areas that see military operations against militants, were looked into.
According to informed intelligence sources, the military brass expressed surprise and concern over the repeated reports of military coup and decided to hold briefings from the platforms of parliamentary committees of National Assembly, Senate and special panels, which deal with national security and defence-related matters, to address the misgivings of the elected leadership.
However, the military leadership decided continuing with tough line on memogate issue through legal course of action. Earlier on Wednesday, a detailed clarification against the PM statement regarding bypassing the federal government by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general and army chief, had indicated the military’s intention not to backtrack from memogate issue.
Other major decisions reported to have taken during Thursday’s meeting largely entailed Pak-US relationship. The military brass was purportedly unanimous in deciding not to restart military cooperation with the US unless new terms of engagement came into force and to “strongly” recommending to the government not to resume Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) supplies.
In this context, General Kayani purportedly briefed the Corp Commanders and PSOs about his recent visit to China. The army chief was said to have discussed new proposed defence pacts on border liaison and surveillance with China that were previously overseen through Pakistan Army’s joint agreements with Nato-Russia Council (NRC).
The development suggests that army is all bent upon reviewing terms of military engagement with the US from curtailing intelligence cooperation with Nato and CIA to devising China-centric policies.
Reportedly, discussion on border defence at Pak-Afghan border mentioned CIA’s drone strike in Miranshah on Tuesday. Intelligence officials quoted military brass as saying that the internal differences could harbour grounds for the external elements to exploit the situation and stressed for forging internal unity. A parliamentary panel has recently recommended resumption of Nato supplies provided that certain condition are fulfilled. This move is strongly resented by the military.
Officials say that fresh operational adjustments in the military troops’ deployment would be made during the last week of this month in the wake of continuous attacks on security forces in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan where Frontier Corps and Frontier Constabulary men have been repeatedly targeted. In Fata, the operational adjustments would be initiated at the battalion and brigades levels in Aurakzai, Khyber, Kurram and Mohmand agencies where security forces are struggling against militants, it is learnt.
The military brass has expressed satisfaction over Pak-Afghan border security mechanism at Chitral, Upper Dir and North Waziristan region while the policy to take on aggression from Afghan side and Nato stays intact. The operationalised border liaison posts, full-scale defence system and surveillance at borderlands were also taken up in the commanders’ moot.
It is further learnt, delegations of officials belonging to Pakistan Army’s Northern Light Infantry (NLI) and People Liberation Army (PLA) would undergo joint trainings and exchange of expertise under Pak-China Strategic Programme for Gilgit-Baltistan that would come into force by June this year. The strategic programme, sources claim, would mark clear deviation from NRC to renewed commitments with China.