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ISLAMABAD: Joint opposition has refused to attend the in-camera Parliamentary Committee National Security (PCNS) meeting unless the briefing is by the relevant senior military officials instead of National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf.

This was the consensus in background interviews with members of the opposition by Business Recorder.

The PCNS meeting is to be held on Monday with NSA Moeed Yusuf scheduled to give a briefing with a focus on the recent agreement between the government and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), and a presentation on the national security policy.

Senior Pakistan Peoples’ Party Leader (PPP) Syed Naveed Qamar told Business Recorder that if the government wants to brief the PCNS on important national security issues, then it needs to arrange such a briefing by relevant military officials. Otherwise, he added that there are standing committees of both houses of defence where the NSA can brief the relevant committees.

He said that joint opposition had already stated that Prime Minister’s national security adviser “lacks” relevant information and has “no authority on decision-making and knowledge of behind-the-scenes facts”.

To a question about the Sialkot incident, he strongly condemned the barbaric incident, adding that it was an outcome of government policies that are “encouraging” extremist elements to take the law into their hands.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the joint parliamentary opposition has already decided to boycott the briefing to the PCNS, adding that the opposition is more committed to issues of national security than the government and it had never boycotted any meeting of the parliamentary security committee in the national interest in the past.

“The joint opposition vehemently participated in all such briefings in the past while ‘selected’ Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t even bother to attend a single session of these briefings,” she said, adding: “It’s pity that Imran Khan’s arrogance, ego and stubbornness prohibited him from participating in such important national consultation process.”

She maintained that Imran Khan is the first Prime Minister in Pakistan's history who had not taken issues of national security seriously, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It’s unfortunate that [PM] Imran Khan boycotted all such meetings, including on Covid-19 pandemic, the parliamentary sessions on Jammu and Kashmir, and the most important session on Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is regrettable. But the most unfortunate of all is the fact that Imran Khan was imposed as the Prime Minister on the country,” she further maintained.

A spokesperson for the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Hafiz Hamdullah said that the PDM fully endorsed the decision taken by the joint opposition in parliament to boycott the “meaningless” session.

He said that the government’s objective behind such briefings is not to evolve a consensus on national security issues, “but it may be considering staging another ‘drama’ on the pretext of national security.”

He further contended that the government bulldozed the controversial legislation from the joint session of parliament on November 17 without taking the opposition parties into confidence. “How can we expect anything good from this selected government for the betterment of the country?” he asked.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has convened a meeting of the PCNS on December 6 to be briefed by NSA Moeed Yusuf on national security and other important issues.

The National Assembly Secretariat sent invitations to leaders of all parliamentary parties in both houses of the parliament, Senate and National Assembly, including Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Maulana Asad Mehmood of the JUI-F, Tariq Bashir Cheema of PML-Q, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of the MQM-Pakistan, Khalid Magsi of BAP, Ghuos Buksh Mehar from GDA, Amir Haider Khan of the ANP, Sheikh Rasheed of Awami Muslim League, BNP chief Akhtar Mengal, Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti of JWP, parliamentary leader of the PPP in Senate Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Azam Tarar of PML-N and senators Anwarul Haq Kakar, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor, Faisal Ali Sabzwari, Tahir Bizanjo, Hidayatullah Khan, Shafiq Tareen, Kamil Ali Agha, Mushtaq Ahmed, Muzaffar Hussain, Muhammad Qasim, and Dilawar Khan. Federal ministers, including Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Shafqat Mehmood, Asad Umar, Syed Fakhar Imam, Hammad Azhar, Dr Shireen Mazari, Ali Amin Gandapur, Ali Muhammad Khan, Adviser to PM on Finance Shaukat Tarin, as well secretaries of the ministries of foreign affairs, interior, defence, finance, Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan and national security have also been invited as special invitees.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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