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ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday briefed the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) on draft of its forthcoming national security policy sans attendance of the joint opposition and senior government ministers.

The joint opposition in the parliament had already announced boycott of the PCNS’s in-camera session for a briefing by National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr Moeed Yusuf on the government’s future national security policy, which was chaired by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan left the briefing in the middle to attend another meeting at the PM House, while other senior government ministers including Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak who was busy in his constituency for the forthcoming local government elections, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who left for Belgium on official visit earlier in the day, and Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Railways Azam Swati, Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, Minister for Housing and Works belonging to PML-Q Tariq Bashir Cheema, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur, PM Adviser on Finance Shaukat Tarin did not attend the meeting despite invitations sent to all of them by the National Assembly Secretariat.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi and chief ministers of the provinces also did not attend the meeting. Sources said that Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) senator Anwarul Haq Kakar also exchanged heated arguments when the former raised issue of the missing persons.

Talking to reporters, Speaker Qaiser said that the opposition should have attended the session, adding that a comprehensive briefing was given to the committee by the NSA. When asked about the absence of many ministers in the meeting who were invited but did not attend the briefing, he said that many ministers were present initially who later went to attend another meeting at the PM House.

“The committee’s quorum was completed,” he added. Leader of the House in Senate Shehzad Waseem regretted the opposition’s boycott of the committee, saying that the briefing was arranged with the purpose to take the opposition into confidence on the national security policy.

“This is national security and not the PTI security committee. The opposition should have reviewed its decision of the boycott,” he added.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, the NSA presented details of the national security policy to the committee, saying that the policy is designed to leverage the symbiotic relationship between human security, economic security, and military security with the prosperity and safety of citizens as its principal focus.

Moeed Yusuf further informed that it endeavours to put economic security at the core of policy priorities to expand the national resource pie for greater investments in human and military security.

Yusuf told the committee that the process of consultations with stakeholders for the formulation of the national security policy was initiated in year 2014 after the establishment of the National Security Division.

In year 2018, he added that a drafting committee was established which built on earlier work, adding that several rounds of feedback consultations on multiple drafts were held with all state institutions, including provincial government and the governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

This was followed by consultations with over 600 academics, analysts, civil-society members, and students across Pakistan to make the policy process inclusive, he added.

The NSA further informed the participants that the policy is expected to be a dynamic document, which will be reviewed each year and on the transition of government to help keep the National Security Policy abreast with policy priorities in a fast changing global environment.

He said that the upcoming national security policy would be the first ever document that outlines the challenges and opportunities facing Pakistan in the coming years, while providing policy guidelines for mitigation and actualising opportunities through a whole-of-government approach.

In his remarks the NA speaker said that the formulation of a comprehensive national security policy by the incumbent government reflected its priority for realising the dream of a secure and prosperous country.

He also appreciated the fact that taking public representatives on board on national policies is vital for strengthening of democratic institutions in the country. He said that the upcoming policy would be a document that envisages challenges and prospects the country has in the coming years.

According to the statement, the participants of the meeting endorsed the National Security Division’s efforts in this regard and expressed their optimism that the policy would lead to an even more secure and prosperous Pakistan as the country was presently facing external as well as internal challenges.

It added that the meeting was attended by federal ministers, leader of the house in Senate, Members of the National Assembly and Senate, senior officers of the National Security, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Interior Divisions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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