Pak commanders meet PM, Prez over security

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met the entire military leadership in the presidency yesterday to discuss the "security situation".

Islamabad: In what could be a prelude to a
possible operation in North Waziristan against the al Qaeda
militants holed up there, Pakistani military commanders have
met with the President as well as the Prime Minister, a move
termed by a leading daily here as "far from routine".

Pakistan`s armed forces has also sought the government`s
support on a number of issues during the meeting held against
the backdrop of increasing domestic and international
criticism of the military.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani met the entire military leadership, including
powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in the
presidency yesterday to discuss the "security situation", an
official statement said.

However, the meeting was "far from routine" and
discussed the political and security implications of a
possible military operation in North Waziristan tribal region
as is being demanded by the US, The Express Tribune newspaper
quoted its sources as saying.

The chiefs of the armed forces asked the civilian
leadership to take up the possible operation in parliament,
similar to the effort made when a campaign was launched in the
restive Swat valley two years ago.
The meeting also discussed the political, monetary and
security implications of such an operation, the report said.

Following the May 2 US raid that killed Osama bin
Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad, the US has pressured
Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan Agency,
described by Washington as a safe haven for Taliban and
al Qaeda elements that carry out cross-border attacks in

The Pakistani Army has said it will launch an
operation in North Waziristan at a time of its choosing but
analysts believe it will be unable to withstand the pressure
from the US for long.

CIA chief Leon Panetta`s brief visit to Pakistan over
the weekend resulted in another downturn in bilateral
relations after he reportedly shared evidence of suspected
collusion between elements in the Pakistani security
establishment and Taliban militants in the tribal areas.

Some security analysts believe Pakistan might opt for
a "targeted" operation in North Waziristan instead of an
all-out assault but only after the armed forces achieve
general consensus and get political backing from the civilian
leadership, the daily said.

Yesterday`s meeting also discussed measures to curtail
growing criticism of the armed forces by different quarters,
the report said.

Political forces, most prominently the PML-N and its
chief Nawaz Sharif, and civil society have launched scathing
attacks on the security forces inside and outside parliament.

An unusually detailed statement issued after an army
Corps Commanders meeting last week called for an end to the
criticism of the armed forces.

Those who attended yesterday`s meeting included Joint
Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne,
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir, Chief of Air Staff
Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and Secretary Defence Syed
Athar Ali.


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