Pak Army to brief
selected lawmakers
in-camera on Monday

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ISLAMABAD: In wake of existing some controversial and sensitive national security issues, it is decided that the Pakistan’s top military brass will brief an in-camera meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) on Monday November 8.

The meeting will be held at 11am at the main hall of the National Assembly for which invitations have been sent to more than selected 80 people, including MNAs, senators, members of the federal cabinet, four provincial chief ministers and Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister.

The members of the parliament are expected to raise the issue of recent controversial and secret agreement signed by the government with the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as the agenda issued by the National Assembly Secretariat says that the members can raise any item during the meeting with the permission of the chair.

The development comes days after violent protests by an outlawed religious group, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), choked parts of the country, killed at least six policemen and left scores wounded on both sides. 

TLP began a protest march last month calling for the release of its incarcerated chief, Saad Rizvi, and the expulsion of France’s ambassador over the publication of caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in a French satirical magazine last year. 

On Sunday, the group reached a deal with the government and ended more than a week of clashes, however, details of the pact have not been shared with the public by either side. 

Pak Parliament

The off-the-record briefing will be attended by members of opposition parties, chief ministers of all provinces, president and prime minister of Azad Kashmir, and members of the NA committee on defence. 

“During the meeting, the top military brass will brief about the overall affairs of national security,” the APP news agency reported. The meeting will be chaired by the NA Speaker at 11am, according to the report. 

Over the last two weeks, Pakistan has seen enough turbulence due to protests by the outlawed TLP. Despite an agreement with the group, the government has not shared any details about it and opposition lawmakers are likely to question officials about the pact in the November 8 meeting. 

The situation in Afghanistan also remains a key issue. Prime Minister Imran Khan this week underscored the importance of economic assistance by the international community to avert a humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan. 

A file picture shows TLP leader Saad Rizvi boarding a police van after arrest.

Military officials are expected to brief lawmakers on the latest situation in the war-torn country, though nothing has been stated about it officially. 

In July, Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and spy chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid briefed the parliamentary committee on national security on the situation in Afghanistan as US troops left the war-battered country. 

As the opposition Pakis­tan Peoples Party (PPP) hinted at participating in the meeting, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said a decision in this regard would be made after consultation within the party.

This will be third meeting of the PCNS. Its last meeting was held in September to discuss regional security situation in the wake of the developments that were taking place in Afghanistan. The meeting that had taken place only days before Taliban takeover of Kabul had been attended by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of the Inter-Service Intelligence Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed.

The top military officials had also responded to questions of the lawmaker during the meeting which was also attended by Opposition Leader and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

LAHORE: The activists of proscribed TLP demonstrating in Lahore demanding the immediate release of their leader Saad Rizvi but the government has refused to do so.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal head Maulana Asad Mehmood, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Tariq Bashir Cheema, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Akhtar Mengal, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Khalid Hussain Magsi have also been invited to attend the meeting.

The speaker has also invited Opposition Leader in the Senate Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman, former prime ministers Raja Pervez Ashraf and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PML-N parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly and the Senate Khawaja Asif and Azam Nazeer Tarar, respectively.

When contacted, PPP vice-president Sherry Rehman said as far she knew the party was considering to participate in the meeting. She, however, questioned the venue of the meeting, saying it should have been convened in a committee room, instead of the main hall of the National Assembly. The previous meeting of the PCNS had also been held at the main assembly hall.

On the other hand, in a statement, PML-N information secretary Maryum Aurangzeb said “any possibility of joining the National Security Committee meeting would be decided by the party leadership after thorough deliberations”.

Talking about the recent crisis created by the protests by the TLP, she said Prime Minister Imran Khan should muster up the courage to make his secret deal with the TLP public.