ISLAMABAD Putting its weight behind the decision of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security endorsed all major DCC decisions, including ban on the Nato supplies and vacation of Shamsi airbase and boycott of Bonn conference.
Military Operations Director General Maj Gen Ishfaq Nadeem briefed the committee’s extra-ordinary session, which was chaired by Senator Mian Raza Rabbani and was also attended by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a number of federal ministers. The general presented details of the Nato attack on Pakistani border checkposts in Mohmand Agency and informed about the steps being taken by the army to avoid such incursions in future.
Sources aware of the meeting deliberations informed that the members were informed by the Military Operations DG that the Pakistan Army officials deployed along the Pak-Afghan border have been instructed to strike back the intruders in such an eventuality in future and that they need not wait for security permission from the top military commanders for any retaliatory action. The committee members expressed satisfaction over the measures taken by both the political and military leadership of the country and made it loud and clear that government would not tolerate such hostility in future, the sources added.
To a question in a briefing to the media about the deliberations, Federal Minister for Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Friday’s session of the committee dealt with a single-point agenda the Nato attacks on Salala checkposts in Mohmand Agency and the government’s steps in response to the incursion.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also gave a detailed briefing to the committee members on the incident and the responsive measures taken by the top military and political leadership of the country. In his opening remarks, the prime minister thanked Chairman Raza Rabbani and members of the committee for convening the meeting to consider the Nov 26 Nato attacks, which caused the loss of precious lives of ‘our brave soldiers’.
Gilani said these dastardly attacks in the dead of night cannot but be construed as a grave infringement of Pakistan’s territorial frontiers by Nato/Isaf and definitely compel us to revisit our national security paradigm. These attacks also have serious implications for regional peace and security, he said, adding, “I, therefore, deemed it important that this committee undertake an in-depth examination of the situation arising from these attacks.
The prime minister briefly recounted the salient developments in the post-Nato attack scenario and Pakistani leaderships response to it. He then called for a holistic review of the whole situation in view of national security and Pakistan’s future engagement with the US and Nato/Isaf.
The prime minister declared that Pakistan does not seek aid or economic assistance from the United States. “What we seek, in fact demand, is respect for our sovereignty and territorial integrity; a firm and categorical commitment on inviolability of Pakistan’s borders and on non-recurrence of such incidents.”
The notion to give Pakistan a ‘to do’ list and the mantra of ‘do more’ have caused immense resentment, the prime minister said. In recent months, there has been a tendency to project Pakistan not as a ‘partner’ but as the ‘problem’, he added. “Our enormous sacrifices and contribution in the campaign against militancy and terror have not been adequately acknowledged. What is worse is the tendency to make Pakistan into a scapegoat for failings of international policies in Afghanistan.”
He said: Our security and counter-terrorism policy needs to be pursued in a manner that suits Pakistan’s national interests. The only effective way forward is to have complete unity in our ranks and total support of the people of Pakistan. I regret to note that our willingness to cooperate with the international community on counter-terrorism has not been understood in its proper perspective.
While Pakistan continued to protest against the drone attacks, which are clearly illegal and counter-productive, we have also been subjected to numerous cross-border attacks by militants from sanctuaries and safe havens in Afghanistan. Our efforts to improve our relations with Afghanistan and support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned efforts for reconciliation and peace have been misconstrued and actively subverted by certain quarters. ‘Clearly, there is a limit to our patience. Cooperation cannot be a one-way street’.
The terms of our engagement with the United States and Nato/Isaf have to be revisited on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual interest and mutual respect, Gilani maintained. Under these most challenging and difficult circumstances, Pakistan has maintained a principled approach and exercised utmost restraint. However, it would be a grave miscalculation for any one to believe that stability and peace in Afghanistan can be restored or maintained by destabilising Pakistan.
Under no circumstances, will we allow Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to be jeopardised by ill-considered and rash actions such as the attacks on our territory by NATO/ISAF. Our patriotic people and valiant armed forces will spare no sacrifice in the defence of their motherland. Instructions have been issued to all units of the Pakistan armed forces to respond, with full force, to any act of aggression and infringement of Pakistan’s territorial frontiers.