High-level huddle: Nawaz, army chief discuss security challenges

RAW’s activities in Pakistan, expansion of Operation Zarb-e-Azb came under discussion


Abdul Manan May 26, 2015
PM Nawaz meets Gen Raheel at the PM House in Islamabad. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD:


Indian intelligence agency RAW’s new priorities and ability to stoke terror inside Pakistan was the major talking point as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif met on Monday to discuss the internal and external challenges being faced by the country.


Although an official handout issued by the PM house did not disclose details of the meeting, sources told The Express Tribune that the meeting devised a future strategy to address internal and external problems.

Insiders said that RAW’s increasing ability to create unrest in the country, political differences on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the expansion of Operation Zarb-e-Azb to Shawal Valley were the major topics under discussion.

The Indian agency’s involvement in terrorism was discussed when the Karachi situation came up, sources said. The COAS updated the PM about the latest investigations of two recent incidents, the Safoora tragedy and murder of rights activist Sabeen Mahmud. In both cases, RAW’s penetration and its priorities in guise of supporting various religious organisations, particularly the sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has shifted its terrorist activities from its objectives.

Premier Nawaz and Gen Sharif also discussed the significance of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s remarks on supporting terrorism to fight terrorism.

To keep in check RAW’s activities in the country, the paramilitary Rangers were constructing check posts on the outer periphery of Karachi. Sources said it was also decided to try the attackers of the two recent high-profile incidents in Karachi in military courts.

The meeting participants also expressed concerns over the increasing terrorist activities in Balochistan by Baloch insurgents, whose line of support from RAW has not yet been destroyed by Afghanistan. They also decided to take up this issue in the upcoming meetings with their Afghan counterparts.

Updating the PM about Pakistan Army’s latest moves in Shawal Valley to target the strongholds of the Taliban, the COAS said the military had started airstrikes in the strategic valley and preparations were under way to launch a ground offence in the mountainous region of North Waziristan, sources added.

Insiders said Gen Raheel briefed the PM about the latest developments after the cooperation agreement signed between the Pakistani and Afghan intelligence agencies.

Under the joint intelligence-sharing understanding, both sides have agreed on two points: First on sharing information about the Taliban leaders wanted by Pakistan living in Afghanistan and those wanted by Afghan authorities living in Pakistan; and second on neutralising the Taliban from carrying out their activities.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2015.

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