A meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), the country’s top civil-military body, was held on Monday to discuss the situation arising out of the recent remarks of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif about the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
"The meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of Mumbai attacks, as it appeared in the Daily Dawn of 12th May 2018, and unanimously termed this statement as incorrect and misleading," said a press release issued after the 22nd NSC meeting held at Prime Minister’s House.
"The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions."
It is pertinent to mention that the statement by the NSC did not name Nawaz while addressing the controversy around the 'misleading' comments about Mumbai attack.
According to the handout, it was recalled during the meeting that the delay in conclusion of Mumbai attack case was caused by India, not Pakistan.
"Besides many other refusals during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Qasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalisation of the trial."
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Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to await cooperation from India regarding the arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and the Samjhota Express attack, the statement said.
"The National Security Committee resolved that Pakistan shall continue to play its due role in fighting the war against terrorism at all fronts," it concluded.
Presided over by Prime Minister Abbasi, the NSC meeting was attended by Defence and Foreign Minister Khurram Dastgir, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, National Security Adviser Retired Lt General Nasser Khan Janjua, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Hayat, the director generals of Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, and the three services chiefs.
PM Abbasi conveys military's concerns to Nawaz
Following the meeting, Prime Minister Abbasi met Sharif, who earlier in the day during a chat with reporters read excerpts from his interview to Dawn and dispelled the notion that the comments were falsely attributed to him. "Will speak the truth come what may," he said. "What did I say that was wrong in the interview?"
During the meeting that lasted nearly 30 minutes, Abbasi briefed Sharif about the discussions held during the NSC meeting and conveyed to him the concerns of the military leadership regarding the Mumbai attacks, sources told DawnNewsTV.
According to sources, Sharif reiterated his stance and questioned if anyone could explain what was wrong with his comments.
The prime minister and his predecessor also discussed the future plan of action.
Controversy over remarks
The convening of the meeting was announced by the military's media wing on Sunday evening.
“(The) NSC meeting suggested to (the) prime minister to discuss recent misleading media statement regarding Bombay (Mumbai) incident. Being held tomorrow (Monday) morning,” Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had shared through his official account on Twitter.
Political analysts believe that these latest developments indicate further aggravation in the already tense civil-military relationship at a time when elections are just a couple of months away, Dawn reported. They believe that the announcement by the ISPR chief through social media indicates that the military authorities have decided to seriously take up the issue and that they want Prime Minister Abbasi’s stance over the matter.
In an exclusive interview to Dawn published on Saturday, Sharif while speaking on matters related to the country’s foreign policy had stated: “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?” He was referring to the Mumbai attacks-related trial proceedings which have stalled in the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable. This is exactly what we are struggling for. President Putin has said it. President Xi has said it,” Sharif had said.
Soon after the publication of Sharif's interview, the Indian media blew up his remarks, terming it an admission on part of the former prime minister that non-state actors from Pakistan were involved in the Mumbai attacks in which terrorists had killed more than 150 people and injured over 300 others in about a dozen shooting and bombing attacks in different localities.