National security meeting to be held tomorrow to discuss 'misleading media statement' on Mumbai attacks: ISPR
A meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) has been scheduled for Monday on the army's "suggestion" to discuss the "recent misleading media statement regarding Bombay incident", said Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Sunday.
In a message on Twitter, the DG ISPR said: "NSC meeting suggested to Prime Minister [Shahid Khaqan Abbasi] to discuss recent misleading media statement regarding Bombay incident. Being held tomorrow morning."
Maj Gen Ghafoor's statement — which does not name any media outlet or an individual — comes in the wake of the controversy created by former premier Nawaz Sharif's comments on the Mumbai attacks during an exclusive interview with Dawn on Friday.
“Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” Sharif had asked in the interview.
Criticising the country's foreign policy, Sharif had added: “We have isolated ourselves. Despite giving sacrifices, our narrative is not being accepted. Afghanistan’s narrative is being accepted, but ours is not. We must look into it.”
Across the border in India, Sharif's words are being regarded as a tacit admission of Pakistan's involvement in the 2008 attacks that left 166 people dead. Many mainstream Indian news outlets, since the interview was published on Saturday, have been playing up Sharif's statement on the attacks as a 'confession' of Pakistan's role.
Earlier in the day, former interior minister and disgruntled PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, without directly addressing Nawaz Sharif, answered the latter's question about the delay in trial, putting the blame on the Indian government's uncooperative attitude and stubbornness.
Nawaz's statement has been 'misinterpreted': PML-N
The PML-N in a statement defended Sharif's remarks regarding the Mumbai attacks, saying the party and its supreme leader "need no certificate from anybody on their commitment and capacity to preserve, protect and promote Pakistan’s national security".
"[The] statement of the Quaid [Nawaz] has been grossly misinterpreted by the Indian media," said a statement issued by an unnamed PML-N spokesperson.
"Unfortunately, a section of Pakistani electronic & social media has intentionally or unintentionally not only validated but has lent credence to the malicious propaganda of Indian media without going through the full facts of the statement," it added.
Rubbishing statements terming Sharif's remarks an attack on Pakistan's national security, the statement said it was Sharif who, "resisting all pressures, took the most important and most difficult decision on national security in Pakistan’s history by making the country a nuclear power in May 1998".
PPP condemns Sharif's statements
Meanwhile, Opposition leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman lashed out at Sharif over his remarks regarding the Mumbai attacks trial, and questioned the PML-N government's own performance in tackling extremism.
"We absolutely cannot allow anyone to compromise Pakistan's war against terrorism," she said while addressing a press conference in Karachi.
Referring to Sharif's questioning of action against militant groups, she asked who was responsible for not moving against militant organisations, and pointed to the PML-N government's failure to implement the National Action Plan (NAP).
Rehman questioned whether Sharif was an analyst or a think-thank who could make such remarks, and said that it was his government's duty to sit with the provinces and make NAP implementation a day-to-day reality.
Expressing the hope that Sharif will retract his statement and issue a clarification, she said the ousted prime minister's remarks have ridiculed the sacrifices of the Pakistani nation, the PPP and the armed forces.
She said Pakistan was currently fighting a war against non-state actors, and questioned how Sharif could talk about such groups when his party itself had strengthened such groups and "entered into political alliances with them".
'Nawaz has given Indian media reason to celebrate'
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Babar Awan while talking to reporters said Sharif had given the Indian media a reason to celebrate with his comments.
The PTI condemns such remarks, Awan said, adding that Sharif's comments were a crime under three different laws and Article 6 of the Constitution dealing with high treason.
Awan said his party is mulling legal action against the remarks "so that Nawaz Sharif has the chance to point out to the nation the hideouts from where the militants left [for Mumbai]" and name the terrorists involved in the attack.
He questioned why Sharif had not said a word against Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Indian atrocities in held Kashmir.
Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan in a series of tweets said Sharif was speaking "Modi's language" against the Pakistani state to protect his ill-gotten wealth. He asked why Sharif did not speak up during his four years as prime minister or take any action regarding his claims.