Amid growing political tensions in the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will chair an unprecedented meeting on national security today (Saturday), which will be attended by the military leadership, the four chief ministers and heads of all parliamentary parties.
The high-level meeting comes just days before Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is set to take out its ‘Azadi March’, which has already virtually dominated the political scene in the country.
The federal government, however, has tried to de-link the meeting with the ongoing political crisis. Talking to The Express Tribune, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqui said the agenda of the meeting will revolve around Operation Zarb-e-Azb currently being carried out in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA).
“The meeting is pre-planned and, therefore, has nothing to do with the prevailing political situation,” the premier’s adviser insisted. He added that the high-level huddle is part of Prime Minister Nawaz’s strategy to take the country’s political leadership into confidence regarding progress achieved against militants in NWA so far.
Sources said the military leadership, including army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General (DG) Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam, will brief participants of the meeting on the overall security situation in the country, including progress in the ongoing operation.
Political leaders invited to the huddle include PTI’s Imran Khan, ANP Asfandyar Wali Khan and Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Sirajul Haq. The PTI chief has refused to attend the meeting.
The timing of the meeting has triggered speculation that the civil-military leadership may discuss the ongoing political impasse between the federal government and PTI.
Insiders believe that PML-N wants to convey a message to its political rivals that the civil and military leadership are on the same page.
The army has until now stayed away from political crisis, although many political commentators are of the opinion that security establishment’s role will become crucial if the situation worsens during PTI’s protest on August 14.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2014.