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April 18, 2014

DG ISI had to face tough questions from all

April 18, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had to face tough questions during the cabinet’s National Security Council committee meeting here on Thursday, sources present in the meeting told The News requesting anonymity.
Background meetings with a couple of participants revealed the following information.At around 9:30am, Federal Ministers Khawaja Asif, Ishaq Dar and Pervez Rashid gathered at the Prime Minister’s House. Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan also joined them and they all started chatting with one another. Meanwhile, the air chief Tahir Rafiq Butt, along with Admiral Asif Sandeela, reached the PM House lobby located on the left side of the main entrance.
None of the ministers came with any of their staff officers; however, the federal secretaries of interior, defence, finance and Foreign Office were asked to sit in the lobby fixed for the staff officers of the chiefs of armed forces.
The army chief, General Raheel Sharif, along with Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, DGMO Major General Amir Riaz, also entered the same lobby where Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Gen Rashad Mahmood, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), were present along with others. The army chief shook hands with the defence minister and the others present in the room and immediately took leave to smoke a cigarette before the meeting. Hardly had he lit the cigarette when had to return to the lobby to greet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who appeared from the residential portion of the PM House. The sources claimed that the PM and COAS exchanged smiles while shaking hands.
In the conference room, the sources claimed, instead of starting with the formal three-point agenda, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared, “Let me inform you I was in China recently and it was really a successful visit where we had an early harvesting of $35 billion within three years.” The prime minister ordered his Additional Secretary Fawad Hassan to

read out the points of the agreements they made in China.
After this, the prime minister asked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to tell what he had brought from his latest trip to the UAE, the USA and London. Dar talked about the success of the Euro Bonds introduced by the government in the international market.
After Ishaq Dar’s briefing, the DG ISI gave a briefing on internal security and Pak-Iran relations. At one point, Zaheerul Islam claimed that some elements of Jundullah, a defunct organisation, were active in Balochistan upon which the prime minister gently asked the DG ISI whose job was this to inform the government about it. The prime minister at times asked questions directly from the DG ISI who, according to the law, came directly under his command.
During the briefing, the DG ISI mentioned Iran’s close relations with India on which Nawaz Sharif calmly reminded him of the government’s policy that they had nothing to do with the internal matter of any of the neighbours. Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam also discussed the internal security situation with regard to the Afghanistan situation.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing the participants, said that they needed peace and they didn’t want any kind of interference in any of the neighbouring countries. During the course of the meeting, the army chief, on a number of occasions, assured the prime minister that things would be done according to the directions of the prime minister. At no point there was any hint of any tiff between the civilian and the military leadership. Some participants, however, observed some unease between the army chief and DG ISI.
Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security, gave a briefing on the Afghan presidential elections. The sources claimed that the leadership showed satisfaction that the Afghan elections took place in a safe environment. It was agreed that whosoever became the new president of Afghanistan, good relations with this war-torn neighbouring country would be the top priority. At the end, Ch Nisar Ali Khan gave a briefing on the ongoing dialogue process with the Taliban and sounded optimistic despite the TTP’s refusal to extend the ceasefire.

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