ISLAMABAD - The PML-led government has decided to shortly constitute a Cabinet Committee on National Security that would be chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s key aide on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

Apparently the idea of the cabinet committee came up in follow-up discussions after the prime minister’s August 8 visit to the foreign ministry where he was given a detailed briefing on key foreign policy issues including India and Afghanistan.

The proposal of the committee was made during a brainstorming session between Sartaj Aziz, PM’s special assistant on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi and senior officials of the foreign ministry, it is learnt. According to informed sources the PM has given the green signal for it and it is likely to be discussed at the Defence Committee of the Cabinet on August 24.

This proposed committee would be subservient to the highest policy-making forum on national security and foreign policy which is the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) that also has representation from the military establishment. The DCC is headed by the prime minister while this proposed committee would be captained by his adviser on national security and foreign policy.

On the proposed committee would be key federal cabinet members including ministers of interior and finance, sources said. This new committee would focus on major international and domestic security issues of strategic significance to Pakistan at a time when it is confronted with grave internal and external security challenges.

This is the first time that a peak ministerial cabinet-level policy oversight mechanism will be instituted in the country. In the parliament and the senate, however, multi-party oversight committees on foreign policy and national security already exist.

The primary mandate of proposed Committee, comprising democratically elected members, will be that of an oversight body. It would monitor quick and effective implementation of the national security policy vis a vis threats to Pakistan on the internal and external fronts.

The committee, however, will be chaired by a non-elected member, Sartaj Aziz, who is the PM’s nominee. Sartaj Aziz is Pakistan’s former finance minister and foreign minister who piloted the country through one of the worst Pak-Indo crisis in 1999.

On Tuesday Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali told the media that the proposed National Security Policy is in the works and that its draft would be presented to the prime minister within two weeks.

Cabinet Committee on National Security in the offing