Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani on Sunday called a “special” meeting of his top commanders to discuss the security situation, the military said, as the war of words with the United States escalated.
The extraordinary meeting of the corps commanders came against the backdrop of sharp U.S. allegations that Pakistan army’s powerful spy agency supported the Haqqani militant group Washington blames for the recent attack on its embassy and other targets in Kabul.
In a terse two-line statement, the military said the commanders would “review (the) prevailing security situation.”
Kayani, who is departing for London later tonight to address the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Royal College of Defence Studies, is chairing the meeting.
“The meeting reflects the gravity of crisis,” retired general, turned security analyst, Talat Masood said.
“They will issue a statement to express solidarity (within the military) and to show that they all are on one page.”
The corps commanders meeting comes a day after Kayani met with U.S. CENTCOM commander General James N. Mattis in Pakistan, but military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said the two meetings were “unrelated.”
CONTACTS WITH HAQQANIS
In an interview with CNN, Abbas acknowledged that army’s Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) maintained contacts with the Haqqani network, but said that didn’t mean it supported it.
“Any intelligence agency would like to maintain contact with whatever opposition group, whatever terrorist organisation … for some positive outcome,” he told CNN in a telephone interview.
However, he said there was a huge difference between maintaining those contacts to facilitate peace and supporting it against an ally.
In the most blunt remarks by a U.S. official since Pakistan joined the U.S.-led war on militancy in 2001, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on Thursday testified before the U.S. Senate that the Haqqani militant network is a “veritable arm” of the ISI.
He also for the first time held Islamabad responsible for the Kabul attack, saying Pakistan provided support for that assault.
The Haqqani network is the most violent and effective faction among Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
On Saturday night, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani rejected U.S. allegations as a sign of American “confusion and policy disarray”.
“We strongly reject assertions of complicity with the Haqqanis or of proxy war,” Gilani said, breaking off from a speech to aid agencies and foreign diplomats on the country’s flood disaster.
Although Pakistan officially abandoned support for the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and allied itself with Washington’s “war on terror”, analysts say elements of the ISI refused to make the doctrinal shift.
Gilani’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told Washington on Friday that it risked losing an ally if it kept accusing Islamabad of playing a double game in the war against militancy, and escalating a crisis in ties triggered by U.S. forces’ killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in an unannounced raid in May.
Security analyst Masood said the sharpened rhetoric between Pakistan and the United States could lead to a “collision”.
One of the options for Pakistan, he said, could be to put pressure on Haqqani fighters to leave Pakistan to avert a confrontation.
“I think both Pakistan and the United States will step back to avoid making things worse.”
The military appears to be autonomous. It is for the civilian government to deal with the crisis emerging due to Haqqani group. Why should an emergency conference of Corps commanders be convened?. The military still thinks itself a sacrosanct organisation which is accountable to no one but to the Army Chief. Should military embark upon an action, which it has been doing from time to time ‘to save the nation’, then it might be an unmitigated disaster for the whole country. The generals should think many times to take any action which would be harmful for the fledgling democracy. The only party which will benefit from such action is MQM.
@Observer from UK……… I do not agree with you regarding the role of army in our national affairs. Pentagon and CIA make the defence policies for the White House and Raw and Indian GHQ plan these for New Delhi but the only difference that they do not come into the limelight and elected civilian faces carry out those policies. In Pakistan we did not have creditable civil governments so the army had to take the responsibility of National Defence Strategy.
Pakistan has done a lot in this war against terrorism with thousands of soldiers sacrificing their lives and a loss of billions of dollars during these last 10 years. Failure of America and NATO forces in Afghanistan is not the failure of Pakistan and so we are not responsible to protect the allied forces and their interests inside Afghanistan. The blame game by the US Government during last few months has taken both countries far apart and recent attack on NATO HQ and US embassy in Kabul is not a Pakistani backed operation as claimed by America. As the end of this war is approaching with American defeat insight, they are trying to come out of this grave situation by blaming Pakistan and the ISI. The recent meeting of Core Commanders under Army Chief an its press release thereafter has given a lot of confidence to Pakistani nation.
@khabeer ul Tanveer.
You missed the point. I am expressing apprehension that military may take an extra constitutional action on the pretext of security threat from within and without and I am justified to exhibit my distrust in the military as it has usurped power on many occasions and may be they are waiting for an opportune moment to strike back.
You mentioned that pentagon and CIA make policies for the government. Absolutely wrong. They pursue policies outlined by the administration, i.e., the supreme commander who is the President of the United States. Pentagon chief is the Defence Secretary not the Generals. You would have noticed that the Generals always sit or stand behind the the Defence Secretary when there is press briefings. Besides, the Defence Secretary has power to discipline his generals or even fire them. Tell me if you see the same precedence in Pakistan. Defence Minister Mukhtar Awan would not dare to summon Gen Kayani or Gen Pasha. Even the President of Pakistan would think twice to take any action against a general. The track record of Pakistani ISA is not that one which the nation could be proud of.
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