An awkward disconnect between civil and military authorities came to light on Monday, in relation to planned meetings in the US, with whom relations are just beginning to thaw.
Moments after Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi announced that the army chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani would visit the US as part of the strategic dialogue, military sources rubbished the defence secretary’s claim.
Talking to the media after attending a meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence, Sethi revealed that, even though the exact details of the army chief’s visit had yet to be finalised, a tentative agenda was being prepared in consultation with all the concerned ministries. However, military sources requesting anonymity, denied the report, saying Gen. Kayani had no plan to participate in the strategic dialogue in Washington.
In addition, Sethi said that two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) will be signed between the US and Pakistan, including one on the Nato supply routes, during the strategic dialogue, adding that the ministry of defence had been given authorisation to sign the MoUs.
In a bid to make anti-terrorism laws punitive enough to tackle terrorists, the ministry of defence, in collaboration with all the stakeholders, is preparing a draft to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act, Sethi said, adding that the draft would soon be presented in parliament and its concerned committees on defence and law.
Responding to a question, Sethi said was unaware of the release schedule of Coalition Support Fund (CSF) payments, but was hopeful that it would released soon after the resumption of bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan.
However, sources in the defence ministry said, “A legal deal to shape cooperation in the war against terror is on top of the agenda for the strategic dialogue, but the army chief would take up the issue of CSF forcefully, with the Americans subjecting it to further cooperation from the Pakistani side.”
Earlier, Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence met to discuss a range of issues pertaining to national security, strengthening civil and military relations and regional security.
Chairman of the committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed unveiled the future plan of action of the committee and said it would hold meetings with the three services of the armed forces to develop a national counter-terror strategy.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2012.
More in PakistanPakistan working towards Afghan transition: PM