The top civil and military leaderships have reaffirmed their resolve that the targeted operation in Karachi will continue irrespective of its political fallouts, The Express Tribune has learnt from government sources. This came a day after PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari blamed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for ‘immobilising’ the Sindh government and warned him of ‘dire consequences’.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday called on Premier Nawaz and discussed matters relating to internal and external security with particular reference to the stalled peace process in Afghanistan, according to an official statement issued from the Prime Minister House.
However, sources said the meeting primarily discussed the Karachi operation and its possible fallouts in the wake of the recent political developments. The imminent critical phase of the operation was also discussed. They agreed to treat the two major parties of Sindh — the MQM and PPP – equally and not to show any tilt towards either, though the prime minister initially wanted to go soft on the PPP, particularly on its co-chairperson.
The civil and military leaders concurred that in a bid to pressure the government the MQM and the PPP might make a joint political move. The two parties might table a joint resolution in the Sindh Assembly against the federal government or issue another strong-worded statement.
According to sources, the prime minister said that the entire PPP was standing behind former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain whose chances of acquittal from the court were slim. The army chief told the premier that the paramilitary Rangers never arrested anyone on the basis of vague information or poor evidence. Other internal security-related issues, including Pur Aman Balochistan package and law and order situation in Punjab after the assassination of provincial home minister Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada, also came under discussion.
Afghan reconciliation process
During the meeting Pakistan-US relations in the backdrop of the Afghan reconciliation process were also discussed. Sources said Gen Raheel apprised the prime minister of his recent meetings with US Security Adviser Susan Rice and the US delegation led by US Special Assistant to President Obama for South Asian Affairs Dr Peter Lavoy and US Ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
They also discussed the country’s policy vis-à-vis Afghan reconciliation process and observed that after leakage of the news of Afghan Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Omar’s death, Pakistan-US relations had got strained, particularly in the context of Afghanistan reconciliation process.
Sources said the US wanted immediate resumption of talks between the Afghan Taliban and Kabul and wanted Pakistan to pressurise the Taliban through other modes or by taking action against the Haqqani Network.
Sources said the military leadership told the US dignitaries that although Pakistan and the US were on the same page in connection with the Afghan reconciliation process, the Afghan Taliban were not willing to return to the negotiating table until resolution of their internal rifts.
Pakistan has sought time for arranging another round of talks between the Afghan Taliban and Kabul, sources added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2015.