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Govt, army brief parliamentary leaders on Indian aggression at in-camera session

Updated February 27, 2019

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An in-camera meeting of opposition parties regarding Indian aggressions was scheduled to be held at 7 pm on Wednesday (today) at the Parliament House, according to sources. 
— AFP/File
An in-camera meeting of opposition parties regarding Indian aggressions was scheduled to be held at 7 pm on Wednesday (today) at the Parliament House, according to sources. — AFP/File

Parliamentary leaders were briefed by the country's top civil and military leadership on the situation on Pakistan's eastern border at an in-camera session held in Parliament House on Wednesday evening.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had today undertaken strikes across the LoC from Pakistani airspace and shot down two Indian aircraft in the ensuing action.

The strikes were carried out a day after India violated the Line of Control (LoC).

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the director general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) provided the military's input to the meeting participants.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was also in attendance, having accompanied NA Speaker Asad Qaiser and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to the meeting after the three separately discussed the national security situation.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also attended the meeting.— Video by Nadir Guramani.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefed the opposition on the government's foreign policy strategy. The participants were also briefed about the decisions taken during the National Command Authority meeting earlier in the day.

"The forum unanimously expressed that they stand united against any aggression against Pakistan and will support the Govt and it’s institutions unconditionally," said a statement issued by the National Assembly Secretariat after the meeting.

The participants "also expressed hope that those who want peace and stability will prevail as war is not an option but a failure of policy", the press release added.

Following the meeting, Qureshi told reporters that the gathering had been "very good" and all parliamentary leaders had been taken into confidence by the government regarding the steps it took to counter Indian aggression.

He said the parliamentary parties' leaders had expressed their solidarity with the armed forces and government.

He said the army chief briefed the participants about the "complete picture" of the prevailing situation, and about the armed forces' preparation to deal with any offensive.

All parliamentary leaders unanimously vowed to protect the national interests of Pakistan, the foreign minister said.

Qureshi said that he had contacted his Chinese counterpart again, and both ministers took each other into confidence about the existing situation.

"China has expressed its full cooperation and solidarity with Pakistan," the minister said.

He revealed that the Saudi foreign minister was also contacted during the briefing. "The Saudi foreign minister conveyed the message that the Saudi Crown Prince [Mohammad bin Salman] is standing with Pakistan," he added.

He said the Saudi crown prince wants to play a role in ending tensions in the region, an offered he said was welcomed by Pakistan.

'Actual story'

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak told reporters that today's in-camera briefing proved effective in ending the "propaganda" and made the political leadership aware of the "actual story" about the regional situation.

He said the PAF had shot down Indian aircraft in response to Indian's violation of the Pakistani air space, but despite this, Pakistan was open to dialogue and desired peace in the region. He warned India against "imposing a war" on Pakistan.

NA Speaker Asad Qaiser (L) and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani speak to reporters after the meeting. — DawnNewsTV
NA Speaker Asad Qaiser (L) and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani speak to reporters after the meeting. — DawnNewsTV

Asked to comment on reports that there was a threat of India carrying out military action again tonight, Khattak said: "When the situation worsens to this extent, the threat is always there. But we are making efforts to defuse it [threat] and we hope that it will be defused."

Opposition leader in NA Shahbaz Sharif said the PAF response to India had "raised the morale of the whole nation", and warned the Indian government against escalating the matter.

NA Speaker Asad Qaiser said today's meeting was a message that the entire nation was standing together "despite political differences".

On behalf of the government, Qureshi, Khattak, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood and others had participated in the meeting.

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, former defence minister Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Raja Mohammad Zafarul Haq and Senator Mushahidullah Khan represented the PML-N.

Senior leader Khursheed Shah, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Saleem Mandviwala, and former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani represented the PPP.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) was represented by Maulana Asad Mehmood, Maulana Wasay, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Maulana Ata-ur-Rehman. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was represented by Aminul Haque and Senator Saif. Balochistan National Party (BNP) was represented by Agha Hassan Baloch while the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) was represented by Anwarul Haq Kakar and Khalid Magsi. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) was represented by Tariq Bashir Cheema, according to reports.

Following an earlier meeting at the NA Speaker's chamber, Khursheed Shah had said that the PAF had conducted the attack for Pakistan's own safety and protection. He noted that it has been the full effort of the military to avoid aggression.

"The entire leadership of the nation is on one page regarding the well-being of the country," he had said.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the NA Secretariat said the president has called a joint session of the parliament at 3pm on February 28 (tomorrow).