ISLAMABAD: The government, on Tuesday, decided to respond with full force if the Taliban commit an act of terrorism. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has refused to approve air strikes in the tribal areas.
Heading a top-level meeting to discuss matters pertaining to national security and regional issues, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that national security was of paramount importance for the country and Pakistan wanted to improve relations with all neighbouring countries, especially India. Issues like dialogue with the Taliban and Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan, India and Iran were discussed during the meeting, which was attended by Adviser to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed and Director General Military Operations Major Gen Amir Riaz.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed were not present in the important meeting. Reviewing the dialogue with the Taliban in the wake of the militant organisation’s refusal to extend the ceasefire, the meeting decided that the process of talks should continue, but vowed a full-force response if the Taliban resorted to terrorist attacks. However, PM Nawaz Sharif refused to approve air strikes in the tribal areas even when the army’s top brass tried to convince him that air strikes were inevitable to wipe out militant sanctuaries in the North Waziristan Agency.
Prime Minister Nawaz, who looked rather oblivious to the gravity of the situation, kept repeating the political rhetoric that he wanted to give peace the maximum chance to tackle the issue of militancy. Sources in the Prime Minister’s House revealed that COAS General Raheel Sharif briefed the meeting regarding his talks with the NATO and ISAF commanders, and Afghan leadership in Kabul on Monday. A meeting was held at the Afghan Ministry of Defence in Kabul on Monday which was attended by COAS General Raheel Sharif, Afghan Chief of General Staff General Sher Muhammad Karimi and ISAF Commander General Joseph Dunford.
Sources added that the meeting was to review the security situation along the Pak-Afghan border and to ponder over the future strategy after the possible withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. The commanders also discussed the delegation of security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces in the wake of US/ISAF drawdown. The DG ISI briefed the meeting on the security situation in the country, while Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar gave a briefing focused on Balochistan, Karachi and the dialogue with the Taliban.
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