It was a marathon eight-hour meeting between the security chiefs of Pakistan and representatives from the government and opposition parties, with the intent to bringing the country’s fractured decision-making apparatus on the same page.
“To that extent the meeting was rare and is likely to be significant,” people following the developments told India Narrative. In a special in-camera session, the Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt General Faiz Hameed comprehensively briefed the parliamentarians on internal and external national security paradigm in the ever evolving geo-political and strategic environment. The briefing covered the core national interests including Afghanistan and Kashmir, reported the Pakistani daily, Dawn.
The daily reported that the political leadership was told in “clear” terms that in view of the situation, it was critical to maintain consensus on issues of national interest, while politics should be restricted to governance and related political matters. The participants were also told that Pakistan wanted to balance its relations with the United States and China.
“The army also wants that we should have good relations with the US and, particularly with China, which had supported Pakistan in the difficult times, but it did not mean that we put the country in isolation. Now our policy has changed. We will not give our bases, airports, navy, troops and any area to anyone,” Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid was quoted as saying.
The meeting was held to brief members of the Parliamentary Defence Committee on National Security and prominent opposition leaders including Shahbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and other parliamentarians. The Pakistani army chief told them that external forces had already started exerting pressure on Pakistan and despite implementing 26 of the 27 points of the action plan agreed with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the “goal post” was changed and now Pakistan has been told to additionally implement a separate six-point action plan given by the Asia Pacific Group, a regional affiliate of the FATF.
After the meeting, without giving any details, Sheikh Rashid told the media: “Today a message was given that the political and military leadership was on one page when it came to national security.”
The crux of the briefing was spelled out by the former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s statement. He said that “the military leadership has put forward its opinion and now the political leadership will make its decisions”.