None of the Pakistani civilian or military institutions ever considered the US or Afghanistan a direct threat to the country and thus, remained oblivious to the covert US operation in Abbottabad on May 2 that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
During the fourth meeting of the inquiry commission probing the incident, Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali provided a detailed statement explaining the salient features of Pakistan’s defence policy.
“He apprised the commission that none of the government departments including the ministry of defence, the Joint Staff Headquarters or any military service ever considered the US or Afghanistan a direct threat,” said an official handout issued after the meeting.
The secretary further said that the country’s defence policy is formulated on the basis of a policy approved by the defence committee of the cabinet, headed by the prime minister.
He explained that the defence policy directs the Joint Staff Headquarters (JSHQ) to formulate a Joint Strategic Directive (JSD). The JSD was issued in 2007 following an extensive debate within the armed forces and acts as the main document for everything, including composition, structuring, development plans, training, methodology, employment strategy, and so on. The JSD also issues specific instructions to the armed forces to prepare for countering an identified threat.
The secretary further apprised the commission that the May 2 incident has left a very deep imprint on the entire nation, the armed forces in particular. He said that the armed forces are now better prepared to respond to any such threat.
The defence secretary also explained that unlike an undefended civilian compound, our strategic assets are well protected and an elaborate defensive mechanism is in place.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.
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