Battling militancy: Govt revives National Security Council

Published: August 23, 2013
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Prime minister Nawaz Sharif chairing the meeting of Defence committee of cabinet. PHOTO: PID

Prime minister Nawaz Sharif chairing the meeting of Defence committee of cabinet. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: 

It took Nawaz Sharif 15 years, plus several twists of fate, to change his mind about the National Security Council (NSC), a body that has been largely inactive since 2008. Nawaz bitterly opposed its creation when the then army chief General Jehangir Karamat floated the idea in October 1998, nearly three decades after General Yahya Khan conceived the need for such a body.

Subsequently Karamat was forced out of the job as a result.  Pervez Musharraf, the general who replaced Karamat, announced the NSC’s formation when he deposed the government of Nawaz Sharif and re-created it in 2004.

On Thursday, Nawaz Sharif’s government decided to reconstitute the National Security Council (NSC) to improve coordination between the civil and military institutions in order to deal with a nagging insurgency that has killed and maimed thousands of Pakistanis over the last few years.

The reconstitution was ordered in a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) on Thursday. It was the first meeting of the DCC since the PML-N came to power following its victory in the May 11 elections. The committee discussed a four-point agenda, including matters relating to the security situation and counter-terrorism efforts.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will head the National Security Council which will include his cabinet members – ministers for foreign affairs, defence, interior and finance – three services chiefs and the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. The NSC will focus on the national security agenda with the aim of formulating a national security policy that will become the guiding framework for its subsidiary policies: defence policy, foreign policy, internal security policy, etc. In his opening remarks, the prime minister said that “Pakistan was facing formidable challenges domestically, while far-reaching developments were taking place in the region and the DCC provided the platform to deliberate on these issues and craft an appropriate response.”

In the context of regional peace and stability, the DCC discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan. The premier said that a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s vital interest and would contribute to the impetus of peace and prosperity in the region. “Pakistan will fully support the international community’s efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and it will also work to comprehensively upgrade its bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all dimensions,” he added.

The DCC decided that the government would not hold any dialogue with homegrown extremists, unless they renounced violence and surrendered their weapons. The government will fight those refusing to lay down their arms.

The committee also discussed escalating tensions with India triggered by ongoing skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC) and foreign policy matters. Director General Military Operations Major General Amir Riaz briefed the meeting on the latest situation at LoC. He said that Pakistani troops were exercising restraint despite repeated ceasefire violation by Indian forces.

“India has violated the ceasefire agreement 240 times this year. Eight soldiers, including two officers, have been martyred as a result. Continuous shelling has also destroyed numerous houses,” said Maj Gen Riaz.

The DCC strongly condemned  ceasefire violations by Indian troops but emphasised that Pakistan would maintain the truce in letter and spirit.  “The prime minister said all possible channels must be used to halt ceasefire violations. However, he insisted that Pakistan would prefer dialogue to settle all outstanding issues with India,” Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, told The Express Tribune.

Apart from the DGMO, Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani also briefed the meeting. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Information Minister Pervez Rashid, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatimi, three services chiefs, ISI and MI heads and chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee attended the meeting.

Analysts say that by reviving the NSC the prime minister wants to debunk the impression that the PML-N-military doctrine does not go well. “This move could be an attempt to preclude the mishaps of the past,” defence analyst Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood told The Express Tribune. “A man who had earlier resisted the establishment of the National Security Council has himself revived it – this is not an ordinary thing,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • sabi
    Aug 23, 2013 - 4:34AM

    ”Director General Military Operations Major General Amir Riaz briefed the meeting on the latest situation at LoC. He said that Pakistani troops were exercising restraint despite repeated ceasefire violation by Indian forces.”
    Which news is correct one that claim of silencing Indian guns or restraints even after 240 cease fire violations by India._ Anyway formation of NSC is a big move and shows seriousness of NS to combat terrorism.

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  • Asad Khan
    Aug 23, 2013 - 5:01AM

    Good move, should have been done earlier. And now it is no longer a committee of Cabinet, it is now a council so it should be expanded. Leader of opposition plus the Chief executives of Provinces and their respective Governors should also be part of the Council so that better counseling can be done on urgent national issues.

    regards,

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  • Saleem Hatoum
    Aug 23, 2013 - 5:27AM

    So the person sitting at the head of the table who happens to be the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the Defence Minister….what a joke!

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  • jibran
    Aug 23, 2013 - 6:05AM

    Like the picture. All civilians are sitting with their heads down, like a student sitting in front of a teacher. Please PMLN, have some courage to look into the eyes of the military men.

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  • Dr. Raja Zahid Khan
    Aug 23, 2013 - 6:57AM

    The revival of DCC could be a step forward to the formation of a homeland security councill lateron may be in the near future including all intelligence agencies heads as well as paliamentary political heads. A very good decision of the vigilant leadership of Pakistan.

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  • Maulana Diesel
    Aug 23, 2013 - 8:55AM

    We need policy to deal with disasters and not plans and strata.

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  • Rabbani
    Aug 23, 2013 - 2:53PM

    Formation of NSC is a great step in the right direction. However,

    The prime minister said all possible channels must be used to halt ceasefire violations. However, he insisted that Pakistan would prefer dialogue to settle all outstanding issues with India

    Pakistan has already used diplomatic channels with India, but they seem unable to comprehend language of peace. About time to make them taste their own medicine.

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  • aq
    Aug 23, 2013 - 4:13PM

    Keep mullahs out of this committee. Bring academics and impartial people in it. Devise strategies how could we stop funding of extremist and mullahs from saudia and other Arab countries. Committee should focuss on Pakistan and its people and try to provide security to all citizens including minorities. They should avoid pressures from saudis and others on rights of minorities and should curtail extremism being exported to us from these countries.

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  • Safder Lodi
    Aug 23, 2013 - 6:30PM

    Is it Constitutional ????

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  • sini
    Aug 24, 2013 - 7:08AM

    If a Country wishes to attain progress and recognition in the world, the so called Prime Minister should have under his command the three Vital Areas like Defence, Finance, and Foreign Affairs with members who will support his Agenda.
    Otherwise it will become a torn Leaf of the Country people tearing it and making it USELESS.

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