Pakistan tells its Army to crack down on militants

Primepost Bureau

What can be considered as music to ears of the Indian Government, Pakistan has told its powerful military establishment to act against militants/terrorists in all its four provinces.

Breaking this unprecedented development on its website, on Thursday, the influential Dawn newspaper said:  “In a blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning, the civilian government has informed the military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan and sought consensus on several key actions by the state.”

An all-party conference that was held on Monday –the details of which were not known earlier — two sets of actions had emerged, according to Dawn. First, General Rizwan Akhtar, Director General of powerful ISI, and National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, are to visit the four provinces and meet the provincial apex committees and ISI sector commanders.

The top men’s mission is to instruct military-led intelligence agencies not to interfere if law enforcement agencies act against militant groups that are banned or until now considered off-limits for civilian action, Dawn reported from Islamabad.

Second, Nawaz Sharif has directed that fresh attempts be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.

According to Dawn, these decisions were taken after an unusual altercation between Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (PM’s brother) and Rizvan Akhtar (ISI DG).

High stakes drama

Revealing some of the dramatic moments that led to the extraordinary decisions by the civilian government, Dawn has reconstructed what transpired at Monday meeting. The account was based on conversations with officials present at the all-party conference. Clarifying its position, the newspaper said, “all declined to speak on the record and none of the attributed statements were confirmed by the individuals mentioned.”

On Monday, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry gave a separate presentation in the PM’s Office to an exclusive group comprising civil and military officials. The gist of the briefing was how Pakistan was diplomatically isolated and how indifference had set in world capitals over Pak’s ‘talking points.’

What’s more relevant to India is, Chaudhry’s blunt talk about his assessment of Islamabad’s relations with New Delhi and Washington. The foreign secretary is said to have stated that the completion of the Pathankot investigation and some visible action against Jaish-i-Mohammad are (India’s) principal demands. On ties with the US, he had cautioned they were likely to deteriorate further because of the American demand for action against the Haqqani network.

Then Chaudhry dropped the bomb that must have shell-shocked the Pakistan’s top, including the PM. The all-weather friend China that has reiterated its support for Pakistan has indicated a preference for a change in course by Pakistan. More importantly, while Chinese authorities have conveyed their willingness “to keep putting on technical hold a UN ban on Jaish-i-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar” they have questioned the logic of doing so repeatedly.

Chaudhry’s ground reality readings appear to have woken up the civilian and military brass present in the room from their make-believe world. What followed later was the decision to crack down on militants without military interference.

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