‘Ready to pay any price but won’t base US forces in Pakistan’
ISI chief briefs parliamentarians on national security, US ties, Afghanistan, Kashmir: Slim chances of peace agreement in Afghanistan after US exit: COAS says Afghan govt sabotaging Pakistan’s sincere efforts; looks like Afghan Taliban want to capture Afghanistan: Huddle deliberates on economic impact after turning down US request: Afghan refugees to be kept in camps near border areas
The leaders evolved a consensus: “We are ready to pay any price but would not allow the use of our military bases against a brother Islamic country.”
The closed-door meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security was held at the National Assembly that lasted for over eight hours. Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt-Gen. Faiz Hameed briefed the parliamentarians for over two hours with a focus on Afghanistan and the regional security scenario.
The sources revealed that it was decided in the meeting to keep the future counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. The Afghan refugees will not be allowed to move in the entire length and breadth of the country as was permitted previously. The huddle also took into account the economic hardships that would entail with the possible influx of Afghan refugees.
The meeting decided to prepare a compact policy on the Afghan refugees. It also discussed the Iranian model on the refugees’ issue. The meeting agreed to provide food, education and other facilities to the Afghan refugees in their camps.
The meeting was informed that around 0.5 to 0.7 million Afghan refugees could come to Pakistan for whom the shelters would be established near the border area. The military leadership said that Pakistan government would have to complete all the arrangements before the influx of the Afghan refugees.
It said that the refugees would be provided facilities according to UN Charter in war conditions.
The sources said that the military leadership was of the view that Pakistan would be more affected by the Afghanistan situation than any other country of the region. The military leadership told the participants that Pakistan did not want to become a part of any war.
Sources told 24NewsHD that the high-level meeting also deplored the fact that America once again was pulling out of the region without completing its agenda which would leave a bad impact on the region. Due to America’s unfinished business here, the economic growth of the countries of the region will be impacted, the meeting deliberated.
There was consensus in the meeting that Pakistan was in favour of peace agreement in Afghanistan and was ready to play its part for its achievement. The summit participants were apprehensive that after the US withdrawal, there were very chances that President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban would be able to reach a peace agreement. But the Islamabad huddle showed a resolve that Pakistan would not let its turf to be used against Afghanistan.
The marathon meeting, jointly chaired by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, was attended by 29 members of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and 16 other parliamentarians, including federal ministers and parliamentary leaders.
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousuf and the four chief ministers also attended the meeting. Speaker Asad Qaiser hosted a dinner for the participants after it ended at around 11.15 pm.
Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa while answering questions of the participants of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security meeting said that Pakistan was trying its hard to bring a peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan but the Afghan government was sabotaging our sincere efforts. He said that the Afghan government through a proper planning was levelling allegations against Pakistan.
The Army Chief further told the participants of in-camera session that an agreement of giving air bases to the US was made in 2001 and America wanted to renew it. According to the then agreement, America was allowed to use Pakistani soil to send its military equipment to Afghanistan.
The participants were told that America sought at least one air base to conduct its future drone-driven counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. However, the US has been told that Pakistan would not provide its bases to it at any cost, COAS Bajwa said adding that they rather had advised the US to transfer drone technology to Pakistan.
The COAS was of the view if anarchy took hold in Afghanistan, the defunct Tehreek-e-Taliban could be reorganized in Pakistan.
Next security briefing likely on July 15
The sources informed that it was decided in the meeting that the next session of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security would be held on July 15 and the participants would be briefed on Afghanistan and Kashmir in the next huddle.
Sources said that Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser would call the session after the consultation with parliamentary leadership before Eidul Azha. There will be more sittings of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security after the Eid, sources added.
Shehbaz terms briefing satisfactory
When Shehbaz came out of the opposition chamber, the media persons surrounded him and bombarded him with questions regarding the military briefing. He dubbed the briefing on the regional situation satisfactory. He said that Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa also answered the questions after the briefing. He, however, stated that he could not reveal much as it was an in-camera session.
Former prime minister and PML-N senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan should have attended the summit. He said neither anybody asked for bases, nor we were going to give bases to anybody. When asked about smile on Army chief’s face, Abbasi said the seat of Army chief was far away from his seat, so he couldn’t see him.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out in his speech that the PM’s absence from such an important meeting was not a good gesture.
Reporters Ibrahim Raja, Usman Javed and Awais Kiyani