ISLAMABAD: As political parties, both allies and those in the opposition, carefully followed the government’s reactions to American allegations, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced on Sunday that he will soon convene a conference of all parties to apprise them on the situation.
According to a statement issued by the prime minister’s office, Gilani met the heads of some political parties and telephoned others, telling them that Pakistan was facing a real threat and that the situation demanded all of them to unite. The statement, however, did not specify where these threats emanate from.
The statement also did not say when the conference could take place and officials said the schedule of the political parties’ meeting will be finalised later.
The move comes days after top administration officials in Washington accused Pakistan’s premier spy agency the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) of using the Haqqani network of Afghan militants as a ‘proxy’ to spread violence in Afghanistan and threatened to launch a unilateral strike in case of inaction.
(Read: Hitting back - Kayani scoffs, Khar cautions, Gilani muses)
According to the statement, Gilani had directed Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to cut short her US visit and reach Islamabad for the conference. But, hours later, a second statement said that Khar will return after she makes her UN General Assembly speech scheduled for September 27 and Gilani has asked her to forcefully present Pakistan’s viewpoint at the forum.
(Read: Gilani directs Khar to forcefully project Pakistan’s case at UNGA)
Officials also said that military and intelligence chiefs will also be asked to brief the political leadership on security in the context of fresh US allegations and threats.
Separately, the statement added that the premier was also in touch with President Asif Ali Zardari who was reaching Islamabad from Karachi, where he had been monitoring flood relief efforts by Sindh authorities.
The leaders that Gilani called on included Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and Awami National Party (ANP) leader Asfandyar Wali Khan.
Pakistan Muslim League-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman met the prime minister separately.
Other leaders whom the prime minister contacted were: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, PML-Functional head Pir Pagaro, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Munawwar Hassan, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, PPP-Sherpao chief Aftab Khan Sherpao, Tribal Leader Munir Khan Orakzai, former minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Senator Salim Saifullah Khan of PML-Likeminded group, Sarwat Ijaz Qadri of Sunni Tehreek and Maulana Muhammad Anas Noorani of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUI-P).
The statement said that both leaders had appreciated the premier’s initiative of gathering the entire political leadership of the country on a common point on this ‘most critical juncture’ of history.
“Political leaders expressed their willingness to attend the briefing and also endorsed the prime minister’s move of taking them into confidence on issues that are of paramount importance from the national point of view,” said the statement.
“The proposed meeting will send a strong message that the nation stands united when the defence and security of the country is at stake. Political differences in the domestic politics do not come in the way of national and foreign policy issues which are above party politics,” the statement read.
But most of the political parties, except the MQM, preferred not to come up with their response to the prime minister’s initiative.
“Altaf Hussain has welcomed the efforts of the prime minister for arriving at a national consensus in view of the present precarious situation of the country,” said a statement issued by the MQM on Sunday.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2011.