Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had invited Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders for a meeting with Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, before his scheduled talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. Unhappy with the invite, the Narendra Modi administration asked Pakistan to choose between Aziz’s meeting with Doval and Hurriyat leaders.
Islamabad refused to accept the Indian dictates saying it would be inappropriate for India to impose the condition of changing Pakistani leaders’ longstanding practice of meeting Hurriyat leaders before any diplomatic engagements with New Delhi.
On Monday, Aziz briefed the federal cabinet on the deadlock in talks with India. Premier Nawaz said any dialogue with India would be futile if the Kashmir issue was off the table. “Kashmiri leaders are not the third party but an important party to this issue. Any decision on their future cannot be made without their opinion and consultation,” he added.
After a detailed presentation on the status of the National Action Plan (NAP) to the cabinet, the prime minister said his administration was committed to implementing the NAP in its essence as its benefits would reach each and every corner of the country.
“Those involved in sectarianism will be dealt with an iron hand and all those who disseminate hate, incite militancy and fuel terrorism will not be spared at any cost,” he added. “Terrorists are committing an unforgivable crime and they will not be spared.”
Premier Nawaz noted that the operation against criminals in Karachi was launched with the consensus of all stakeholders and its results were visible to all. “The citizens of Karachi want peace and the government will not allow political expediency to come in the way of restoring peace and reviving traditional tranquility of the city of the Quaid.”
“We cannot even think of taking any step back as far as the Karachi operation is concerned and those who have come in parliament with the people’s mandate should place their grievances and raise their issues on the floor of the house,” he added while referring to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement whose lawmakers have resigned en bloc in protest at the Karachi operation.
The prime minister assured his government would continue its efforts to provide peace and security to the people of the metropolitan city.
Premier Nawaz directed the interior ministry to prepare a strategy to de-weaponise the whole society as any democratic government could not allow armed groups to operate with impunity. He informed the cabinet that Operation Zarb-e-Azb was achieving its objectives and “our armed forces and civilian institutions deserve the credit for this”.
He added that even the international community has appreciated the successes achieved in Operation Zarb-e-Azb. In this regard, the prime minister lauded the efforts and determination of army chief General Raheel Sharif. He also commended the efforts of Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Sohail Aman for leading the operation from the front.
The prime minister said the security situation in Balochistan was improving day by day and “InshaAllah this process will continue till the time there is a dawn of peace and prosperity from Fata to Balochistan and the city of the Quaid.”
Earlier, the cabinet offered Fateha for the departed souls of all the victims of the Attock suicide attack and paid tribute to Shaheed Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada, the slain home minister of Punjab, for the sacrifice he rendered for the whole nation. The prime minister acknowledged the contribution of Shaheed Khanzada in golden words as member of the Punjab Assembly, as well as home minister for fighting militancy and extremism.
The prime minister also constituted a five-member cabinet committee to oversee implementation of the Supreme Court directions regarding use of Urdu language for official business in government and semi-government departments. The committee will propose concrete steps besides taking necessary measures for promotion of Urdu in official communication.
The cabinet also approved various agenda items placed before it which included MoUs with foreign countries in the field of aviation, climate change, commerce, defence, economic affairs, education, finance, foreign affairs, science & technology, water & power, Board of Investment, ports & shipping and information, broadcasting & national heritage, etc.