Pakistan parliament briefed on war on terror

October 8th, 2008 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz SharifIslamabad, Oct 8 (IANS) Pakistan’s parliament Wednesday evening met in-camera - only the third such meeting in its history - amid strict security as a military general briefed the MPs on the ongoing operations in the tribal areas of the country and the war on terror.Director General of Military Operations Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha briefed the parliamentarians from both houses - the National Assembly and the Senate.

The briefing started at 6 p.m. and continued for two-and-a-half hours before the session was adjourned to meet again at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif and other senior politicians who are not members of parliament were specially invited to the session.

National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza chaired the session, with visitors’ galleries remaining empty except for a few invitees like Sharif.

However, the chief of the rightwing Jamaat-e-Islami who is leading a train march against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government and Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan could not attend the session, saying they had other important engagements.

Journalists were also kept away from the parliament building for the first time in 20 years.

The MPs had taken an oath not to reveal the information provided in the in-camera session. Talking to reporters, they were mixed in their reactions to the session.

“I am not satisfied with the quality of the briefing,” PML-N MP Saad Rafique told IANS.

Refusing to give any details of the briefing, he said that much of the information was already being reported in the media.

Ayaz Amir, a columnist and PML-N MP, said it was “bit useful and we came to know the strategy but we failed to understand why and how it (the operation against tribals) started”.

He said: “We came to know the technical side of the operation.”

The PPP MPs appreciated the initiaitve, saying they now had a better understanding of why it was important to carry on the operations.

“I can’t give you the details but it was a detailed briefing and we are very satisfied,” Attorney General Senator Latif Khosa told IANS.

Khosa said the MPs will be able to raise questions in Thursday’s session. The joint session of parliament will continue for an in-camera debate for 10 days after that, he said.

Many MPs talking to IANS doubted if they were told the “whole truth” in the briefing.

The first such in-camera joint sitting of parliament was held 1974 to discuss the situation after anti-Qadiani riots, which led to a constitutional amendment that declared the Qadianis as non-Muslims.

A similar session was convened in 1988 by then prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo before signing the Geneva peace accord on Afghanistan. It earned him the ire of military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq, who sacked him.

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