The prime minister’s July 12 call for holding a consultative meeting for carving out a national security policy suffered a major blow on Monday following the departure of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to London, as well as an official statement by Interior Ministry that said July 12 had been proposed but it was yet to be finalised as the date for the meeting.
However, most of the in-house work has been completed.
A well-paced source told Pakistan Today that National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had formulated a draft of the national security policy and the government was sharing it with state institutions for feedback.
“However, the draft policy has yet not been shared with political parties. It would most likely be shared with politicians by the prime minister during the high-level consultatitive meeting,” the source added.
The controversy triggered with an official handout issued by the Interior Ministry, stating that July 12 was not the final date for the consultative meeting of national leaders, rather it was mere a “proposed date”.
A handout issued by the ministry said, “It has been clarified that so far the date of holding the consultative conference of the leaders of national political parties has not been finalised. Federal Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is still in the process of consulting all political leaders to be invited.”
“After these consultations are over, the interior minister will get in touch with the prime minister to indicate the likely schedule of the meeting later this evening. It is reemphasised that the date of July 12, which is constantly being quoted by the media, is actually a proposed date while the final date for the meeting will be decided after due deliberation and consensus keeping in view the availability of the entire political leadership of Pakistan,” the statement added.
In contrast, an official statement issued by Prime Minister’s House on July 3 had stated, “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has decided to convene a meeting of all heads of political parties represented in parliament on July 12, 2013.”
Meanwhile, Imran Khan dashed to United Kingdom on Monday on a two-week visit for medical check-up and to see his two sons, Suleman and Qasim, who are living with their mother Jemima Khan.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PTI’s Secretary Information Dr Shireen Mazari confirmed official contacts between the government and her party, stating that the Punjab chief minister had contacted Khan about four days ago and contours of the meeting had been discussed.
“Khan had informed Shahbaz about his trip which had been planned ahead of the government’s announced date for the meeting. Later, Nisar Ali Khan also called on late Sunday night but Khan had went to bed and was asleep by the time,” she said.
Mazari added that Khan returned Nisar’s call on Monday morning, but the interior minister was busy somewhere else.
Khan later flew to London.
She said Khan’s absence would not have any bad effect on the significance of the moot, as the party had already devised its strategy.
“We think that rhetoric and mere speeches (by politicians) would not serve the purpose. The country actually needs drafting of a policy to deal with the issue of (terrorism). No communication has been conveyed to the PTI about draft of the security policy,” she added.
She said the PTI was clear in its proposal for the strategy.
“If the APC is to be held, the PTI will place four demands. We are prepared for it,” she said, adding that the government would have to act upon the strategy as in the past, the government did not implement resolutions of the parliament.
However, noted political analyst Dr Rasool Bakhsh Rais said dates did not matter in carving out national security policy.
“A broader national consultation process is needed to evolve a national security policy which may take some time. Time and dates are not important in this regard,” he said, adding that the resolutions passed by parliament were only an expression of intent and not a policy.
“The final document on security policy would be an outcome of sustained efforts and civil, military and intelligence institution would have to deliberate upon detailed policy and the modus operandi,” he added.
Rais said all organs of the state would have to converge on the policy and no single institution could do it in isolation.
“I think that the government is on the right path. It is thinking and evolving a mechanism,” he added.
Rais added that a single meeting would also not be able to finalise the policy and rather more meetings would be needed to fianlise the operational details by professionals.
Imran Khan was the first to demand a meeting involving the prime minister, army chief, and chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to evolve a national counterterrorism policy and holding dialogue with the militants.
“The prime minister, army chief and chief ministers of KP should sit together and form a policy on halting drone attacks and restoring peace. We would have to tell the US that we all are on the same page. We have to make this war our war, and it cannot become our own war unless we stop drone attacks,” Khan had said during his maiden speech after taking oath as a member of the National Assembly and had added that the PTI would fully back the government’s move in the nation’s interest.