Tuesday Dec 19, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday briefed the Senate Committee of the Whole House on matters pertaining to national security and “to prepare policy guidelines in the light of emerging regional realities”.
The session was also called to deliberate upon the emerging national security paradigm for Pakistan especially with respect to the recent visits of the General Bajwa and other recent developments in this regard, said a statement released by the upper house of parliament.
The chairman of the Senate welcomed the army chief and in his opening remarks gave a brief insight into the role of the committee in regards to issues linked with foreign policy and national security.
"Today’s exercise, first of its kind, is being carried out to ensure that Pakistan’s National Security Policy is in line with the emerging regional realities and the incipient security paradigm for Pakistan," the statement quoted Rabbani.
The session, which lasted over four hours, was also attended by DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, DG ISI Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar and DG Military Operations Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza. Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani chaired the committee session.
A question and answer session, lasting almost three hours, was also held at the conclusion of the session.
During the session, COAS Bajwa briefed senators regarding the Islamic Military Alliance. According to sources, the COAS said the 41-member alliance was not against any country.
General Bajwa added Pakistan would not let a war take place between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The Army chief emphasised that people analysing events on television were retired officers and not spokespersons of the Pakistan Army.
After the session, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor held a brief news conference, stating that a more detailed news conference would be held in a few days.
DG ISPR told members of the press that the Army chief had briefed senators on Pakistan’s policy in the war against terrorism and the DG MO gave a detailed briefing on the security situation.
“Senators expressed their pleasure in meeting COAS and acknowledged the sacrifices of the Armed Forces,” he said, adding that “till we are united no one can defeat us.”
Ghafoor further said that the senators were more aware of the security situation of the country and praised the role played by the Pakistan Army and the armed forces.
"Our Honourable Senators were more aware of the security situation and appreciated the role played by the Pakistan Army and armed forces of Pakistan," said the ISPR director general.
Senators who spoke with the media termed General Bajwa's briefing a historic event.
“This is for the first time that such an open and detailed briefing was given. Everyone is very satisfied with the COAS briefing. This is a very good thing for civil-military relations. The confusion created by the current situation has been cleared,” said Senator Mushahid Hussain.
PPP leader, Senator Farook Naek said: “I believe that the discussions in the committee were held in a pleasant atmosphere. A lot of things were cleared.”
PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, commenting on General Bajwa’s briefing to the Senate, said that ‘both sides’ talked ‘very openly’, asked questions, and presented their stance.
“The best part about the Senate briefing was that a state institution believes it is answerable to the public’s elected representatives, and it responded to the questions that public representatives had,” Rasheed said.
PML-N Senator Asif Kirmani said that the ‘informative briefing’ was a very important step from both, the Senate and Army’s end.
“It was the first time in the Senate’s parliamentary history that the COAS gave a briefing [to the house],” Kirmani said. “The briefing has clearly made us more aware of matters and helped us with understanding matters [pertaining to national security].”
Senator Nehal Hashmi said General Bajwa, in his briefing to the Senate, said that the army is ‘subservient’ and ‘answerable to the public’, and the institution has to act according to the law.
“He [COAS] said that forming defence and foreign office policies are the job of lawmakers, and [when pertinent] implementation and accountability is the army's job,” Hashmi said.
According to Hashmi, the COAS said he would resign if it is proven that the army was supporting the Faizabad sit-in.
A Committee of the Whole (or Whole House) is formed when the entire membership of the House sits down as one committee constituted according to article 172A and 172B of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate.
The Committee of the Whole House was constituted ‘to prepare policy guidelines in light of the emerging regional realities and the role of the United States.’
Relations between Pakistan and the United States have suffered over the past few months, after US President Donald Trump, in a fiery speech back in August, accused Pakistan of offering a ‘safe haven’ to terrorists as he announced a revised policy towards the Afghan war.