Islamabad - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday visited the headquarters of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) where he received an eight-hour-long briefing from the army chief and the spymaster.

The premier chaired a meeting at the top spy agency’s office during which he was briefed in detail by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Director General Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar on various strategic intelligence and national security matters.

Khan lauded the contributions of the ISI for national security, especially in the ongoing counter-terrorism effort. “ISI is our first line of defence and stands out as one of the best intelligence agencies of the world,” he said.

The prime minister, who was accompanied by senior cabinet ministers during the visit, also laid a floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada and offered fateha.

Imran Khan had also visited the military General Headquarters in Rawalpindi a fortnight ago for a security briefing.

Talking in a private TV talk show, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the PM was briefed on all aspects of national security at the ISI headquarters.

He said Imran Khan made it clear that government and people of Pakistan “firmly stand behind their armed forces and intelligence agencies, and greatly acknowledge the unprecedented achievements of these institutions.”

The minister said there was total convergence of views between the civil and military leadership on all issues including counter terrorism and economic development in the country.

He said all state institutions were on same page on all issues of national interest and policies were being formulated with the input from the relevant institutions.

On foreign policy, Chaudhry said military leadership was fully supporting the prime minister for normalisation of ties with India, and he reiterated PM’s stance that ‘if India takes one step, Pakistan will take two’.

Commenting on Pakistan’s relations with the US, China and Saudi Arabia, the minister said that Pakistan’s interest comes first.

Fawad Chaudhry dismissed the notion that there was any difference over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. He asserted that all the institutions were working in unison and will continue working in the same spirit.

A day earlier, talking to Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had said on Tuesday that CPEC is economic future of Pakistan and its security shall never be compromised.

A statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that matters of mutual interest including regional security were discussed during that meeting.

The Chinese ambassador, who called on Gen Bajwa at the GHQ, appreciated conduct of successful visit of Chinese foreign minister to Islamabad and across the board support for CPEC in Pakistan.

The development came a day after a report in the London-based Financial Times newspaper quoted the prime minister’s commerce adviser Abdul Razak Dawood as saying that CPEC “unfairly benefits Chinese companies” through tax breaks and many other incentives that are unavailable to local counterparts.

The newspaper further quoted the adviser and other Pakistani officials as saying that the deals under CPEC would be reviewed. “We should put everything on hold for a year so we can get our act together,” the adviser was reported as saying.

But, both Pakistan and China reacted angrily to the report and reaffirmed their commitment to the mega project. The commerce ministry issued a public rebuttal to the report saying the news item was premised on “out of context” statements.

CABINET MEETING TODAY

The Federal Cabinet meeting under Prime Minister Imran Khan will be held today with several key decisions on the agenda.

The Cabinet is expected to give approval for formalising Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) announced by the government for retrieval of unlawful money stashed abroad.

Under the ToRs of the ARU, the body will be empowered to get any kind of information from any federal or provincial department and the relevant department will share the information within seven days.

The ARU through the law-enforcement agency (LEA) or any relevant department may seek such assistance and information but not limited to bank accounts, records of companies, revenue records, travel record or data from the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).

The Cabinet also has on agenda the approval for appointment of chairman Board of Investment.

It is also expected that the meeting will give the go-ahead for amendment into Pakistan Navy Act 1961. An amendment has also been proposed in the Income Tax bill, which will subsequently be presented in the National Assembly for passage.