LAHORE- PML-N government has not abandoned efforts to formulate a consensual national security policy despite PTI head Imran Khan’s refusal to participate in any such venture unless he is given an audience with the premier and the army chief.
However, the government has still not announced any date for the proposed All-Party Conference (APC). Previously, a tentative date of July 12 was given but on that date, the PTI chief went abroad.
Imran’s participation is important because his party is ruling the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders the long tribal areas, directly exposed to the CIA drone attacks which continually send ripples of fear and invoke wide-ranging resentment across the country. The province has also significant role to play in the safe exit of the US and other foreign forces and the military hardware from Afghanistan which has to be complete by July next year.
After Eid, the PML-N is embarking on a fresh drive to woo heads of different parties to attend the conference. A high level team of the N-League would also meet Imran Khan to address his reservations and if he responded positively, the government would go ahead with evolving agreement on a national policy on security.
The PTI is under the impression that PML-N government has bowed down to American pressure on drone attacks and therefore the APC would be a futile exercise. Since the PML-N government took over on July 7, four major drone attacks have been carried out in the North Waziristan claiming lives of 35 people, killing 17 in a single hit at a bazaar.
This has been carried out in the face of the strong protest by the government, which is set to take up the issue with US secretary of State of John Kerry on his upcoming visit to Pakistan. However, some press reports quoting the US authorities claim that the drone attacks are going on with the knowledge of Pakistan authorities which believe them to be helpful in countering the militants.
A highly placed source in the government ranks said that the government has a consistent stand on drone attacks – that they are counterproductive and foment terrorist activity, besides taking lives of the innocent citizens. On the APC, he said in fact it was a meeting of the party heads as part of the overall contacts which the government had planned to also hold with the parliamentarians and media and civil society to work out a consensus based, acceptable-to-all and viable national strategy on security wherein the foreign policy, outside intrusion and attacks, have to also be put on the new lines in accordance with the national interests. Imran’s boycott, he said is not the end of the matter.
When contacted, PML-N Senator Tariq Azeem said the option of the APC was still on the table as so far no time has been fixed for this exercise. He expressed the hope that after Eid, fresh efforts would be made in this regard. He said the purpose of APC is to obtain a security strategy after every party is on the same page on the question how to ward off threats and deal with the current wave of law and order situation in the country.
When asked why the issue is not being put to the parliament where now almost all the political parties have their representation, Azeem said previously the parliament carried two resolutions which failed to yield the desired results. And now when the matter would be put before the House after developing consensus of all and sundry outside the same would be more effective and practicable. He said it was desirable that all, including Imran Khan, take part in this exercise but if anyone did not join the efforts, the goal would continue to be pursued.