Top government and military officials have voiced concerns over the role of hostile agencies days after an Indian intelligence agent, Kulbhushan Yadav, admitted in a video confession that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was stoking violence in Balochistan and Karachi.
According to his office, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired the fifth meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday to review measures taken for national security.
The committee met after a six-month hiatus. Attendees included cabinet ministers Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Asif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pervaiz Rashid, National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Rashad Mahmood, army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, naval chief Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar also attended the meeting.
“The participants were briefed on the measures adopted for national security that have drawn wide and broad appreciation from the international leadership,” the Prime Minister House said in a brief statement.
Sources, however, said Foreign Secretary Chaudhry gave a detailed briefing on the Nuclear Security Summit which he attended last week in Washington DC. The meeting expressed satisfaction over the international acknowledgement of the security standards of Pakistan’s nuclear program.
The committee voiced concern at the apparent involvement of hostile agencies in Pakistan. Sources said the participants discussed Yadav’s arrest and RAW’s attempts to stoke violence in the country. The military leadership apprised the prime minister of efforts to stop RAW’s activities in the country. Sources said the government would use Yadav’s arrest as a pressure tool against India.
The participants also discussed the armed forces development program, including procurement of F-16 jets from the United States. The Department of Defence announced on Tuesday that the US Navy has awarded a $170 million contract for the manufacture and delivery of nine AH-1Z helicopters and nine auxiliary fuel kits to Pakistan.
Why the meeting was called
According to sources, the prime minister convened the NSC meeting on the suggestion of his political aides to reassert his role as the chief executive in the wake of his recent disagreement with the security establishment over the Rangers-led operation against terrorists in Punjab.
After the March 27 deadly suicide bombing at Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal park, Gen Raheel had ordered intelligence-based operations in Punjab, ostensibly without taking the political government into confidence. However, sources said, the matter was sorted out after Chief Minister Shahbaz Shari and Interior Minister Nisar met with the army chief, who discussed the issue with the prime minister in a subsequent meeting.
Sources said the prime minister has refused to requisition the Rangers in the province with special policing powers while the military has agreed to launch operations in coordination with the Punjab police. In Wednesday’s meeting neither the Punjab operation nor the issue of Rangers’ special powers was taken up by either side, sources said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2016.