The proposed national security policy — expected to get approval from the federal cabinet on Monday — could not sail through as new cabinet members, from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Fata, came up with fresh suggestions. The prime minister deferred the approval until the next special cabinet meeting, according to an official statement.
The cabinet met at the Prime Minister Office to finalise the security policy, where members were briefed on the policy draft.
Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar said a high-tech mechanism would be put in place for the exchange of intelligence under the supervision of the National Counter Terrorism Authority. He also briefed the cabinet members on the process of dialogue with militants.
The prime minister, in his remarks, expressed his resolve to ensure the rule of law in the country and said political and religious parties would be consulted in this regard.
Referring to the all parties’ conference held in September, he said, “A number of developments have taken place thereafter and the government is closely following them. We will keep political parties informed of these developments and take them into confidence.”
“We would do whatever possible to restore peace, alleviate poverty and put the country on the road to progress,” he added.
The prime minister pointed out that illegal movement across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border needed to be curbed. He directed interior ministry officials to take up this matter with their Afghan counterparts and form a joint strategy. He also directed the ministry of law and provincial home ministries to implement the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance 2013 and strengthen the border.
Nawaz said the country would have to think of extraordinary steps to deal with these extraordinary circumstances. Anti-terrorism courts would be established across the country and prosecutors would be appointed, he said.
The cabinet meeting also paid tribute to the media, civilians and Pakistan Army for their endeavours and sacrifices in the war against militancy. The premier particularly appreciated the important role played by the media and expressed grief over the death of Express News staffers.
Separately, the cabinet gave its consent to the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with different countries and companies.
Consulting the army chief
Prior to the cabinet meeting, Nawaz and COAS General Raheel Sharif spoke over the phone and discussed the country’s security situation.
According to officials, the prime minister discussed the finalisation of the national security policy draft and its immediate implementation with the army chief.
Both agreed to finalise a counterterrorism strategy and convene a high-level meeting to discuss the security situation of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2014.