Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid on Saturday said “democracy was interlinked with the security, particularly in the present scenario.”
Talking to reporters in Islamabad, Rashid brushed aside speculation that the National Security Conference was held particularly to tackle Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) ‘Azadi March’, saying the decision to convene the huddle was made ‘a long time ago’.
“Many political parties had demanded a briefing by General Raheel Sharif on Operation Zarb-e-Azb,” he said. According to the minister, the conference could not be held earlier as the army chief was outside the country.
Replying to a question about the Azadi March, Rashid made it clear that the government was ready to negotiate for the sake of peace in the country. “Imran Khan had earlier demanded recount in four constituencies… now, he has raised his demand to ten constituencies,” he said.
The minister said that the demand for one of these constituencies was invalid since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate for the seat had come in third. Election tribunals have already ordered recounts in two constituencies while the case of one more constituency is pending with a high court, he added.
Rashid said demanding the government order recounts and a re-election was unconstitutional since it was the job of election tribunals.
The information minister called on the PTI chief to inform the Islamabad administration of his party’s plan for the march. “He should reveal when he and his supporters will arrive, how many of them would be coming and what spot are they planning to sit in… Only then can we decide whether to allow them into Islamabad.”
In response to another question, Rashid said while the government wanted to hoist the flag of independence on August 14, Imran wanted to hoist the ‘flag of agitation’.
Talking about the National Security Conference, he said it was ‘beyond his understanding’ as to why PTI did not attend it.
The conference, he said, was attended by representatives of all major political parties in the National Assembly and the military leadership. The minister added that Saturday’s meeting, which saw all political leaders sit together, had no parallel in Pakistan’s history.
Director General Military Operations Major General Aamir Riaz briefed the political leadership about the ongoing operation, Rashid said. Army chief Gen Raheel answered queries by the political leadership about the military operation, he added.
According to the minister, the participants of the conference were apprised about the areas in North Waziristan Agency cleared by the armed forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2014.
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