NEW DELHI: In an extraordinary development, the Pakistan government, rattled by its global isolation following the Uri terror attack, has told its all-powerful army in no uncertain terms to take “visible action” against Jaish-e-Mohammad and other terrorist groups, Dawn newspaper reported today, citing high-level confidential sources.Dawn reported that the civilian Nawaz Sharif government’s officials openly confronted army officials – in what it called an “extraordinary exchange” – at a secret meeting on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said at a presentation at the meeting that despite recent diplomatic outreach, Islamabad “faces diplomatic isolation and that the government’s talking points have been met with indifference in major world capitals.”
Following that presentation, the civilian government gave a clear message to the army – “Military-led intelligence agencies are not to interfere if law enforcement acts against militant groups that are banned or until now considered off-limits for civilian action… (and) fresh attempts be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court,” Dawn wrote.
Further, foreign secretary Chaudhry reportedly shocked those at the meeting by saying that “while China has reiterated its support for Pakistan, it too has indicated a preference for a change in course by Pakistan.”
Following the meeting, Pakistani spy agency ISI’s director general Rizwan Akhtar and National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, are set to travel to all four provinces, with the government’s message for provincial apex committees and ISI sector commanders.
Dawn further reported that there was “an extraordinary verbal confrontation between (Pakistan’s) Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the (Pakistan spy agency) ISI,” and that it appeared “to indicate a high-stakes new approach” by the Sharif government.
The Punjab CM’s “stunning and unexpectedly bold intervention” occurred when he complained that whenever action has been taken against certain groups by civilian authorities, the security establishment has worked behind the scenes to set the arrested free.
“Astounded onlookers describe a stunned room that was immediately aware of the extraordinary, unprecedented nature of the exchange,” Dawn wrote.
Dawn said that this secret meeting on Tuesday was chaired by Prime Minister Sharif and included senior cabinet and provincial officials. Pakistan’s foreign secretary Chaudhry gave an exclusive presentation at this meeting. On the military side, Pakistan spy agency ISI’s director general Rizwan Akhtar led the representatives.
On the US, Chaudhry reportedly said Pakistan’s relations have deteriorated and will likely further deteriorate because of the American demand that action be taken against the Haqqani network.