In Rare Briefing, Pak General Says Army Supports Peace Talks With India

Pakistan's military heads met with the civilian leaders for four hours. Senate chairman Raza Rabbani criticised lawmakers for leaking details of the in-camera briefing by General Qamar Javed Bajwa

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In Rare Briefing, Pak General Says Army Supports Peace Talks With India

General Qamar Javed Bajwa briefed the Pakistani senate for the first time in six years

Islamabad:  The Pakistani military is willing to support the government if there's any chance of peace talks happening with India, the country's army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said in a rare briefing to the senate or the upper house of parliament on Tuesday. For the first time in six years, Pakistan's military heads came to parliament -- a civilian institution -- to brief lawmakers on the country's security situation.

The last time the Pakistani military leadership briefed a joint session of parliament was in May 2011 when former army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and former intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha came to speak on the killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces in Abbottabad, a cantonment city 110 kilometres north of capital Islamabad.

On Tuesday's briefing, General Bajwa said the Pakistani military wants good ties with all neighbours, including India and Afghanistan, the BBC Urdu reported. "We can resolve issues with India through talks instead of war. In this situation if the government decides to hold talks with India, then the army would back the government," he said.

The military heads met with the civilian leaders for four hours, according to local media. However, senate chairman Raza Rabbani criticised lawmakers for allegedly leaking details of the in-camera briefing by the army chief, saying they violated the sanctity of the upper house, news agency PTI reported.

"If we keep up with the same attitude, no one will be able to take the House into confidence," he said, adding senators should know that in-camera sessions should not be made public.

Gen. Bajwa was accompanied by Director General of Military Operations Maj. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI Naveed Mukhtar and Director of ISI Public Relations Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor.

Pakistan's army wields considerable influence over policy decisions in the country. The US has accused the Pakistani military of not being sincere in the fight against terrorism, as on the one hand the Pakistani military is considered an ally of the US in battling the Taliban and the ISIS, but on the other hand the military has been accused of sheltering terrorists who are fighting Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
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Pakistan also sees frequent attacks in Balochistan, a strategically important region bordering Iran as well as Afghanistan (Reuters)

The fact that Osama bin Laden, architect of the plane attacks that brought down the two World Trade Centre buildings in New York on September 11, 2001, was found hiding in a Pakistani city teeming with military personnel, and that Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, is living in Pakistan, puts the country in an extremely difficult spot to explain that it doesn't support terrorism.

India has time and again accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and using terrorism as a state policy. Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump unveiled a new National Security Strategy describing India as a "leading global power" and also asking Pakistan to take "decisive action" against terrorist groups operating from its soil.

Pakistan, however, also sees frequent attacks in Balochistan, a strategically important region bordering Iran as well as Afghanistan. The area is plagued by violence by Sunni sectarian groups linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and the ISIS. It also has an indigenous ethnic Baloch group fighting against the central government.

The Middle East-based ISIS has created an active branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent years mostly by recruiting among established terrorists, and its followers have claimed some of Pakistan's most deadly attacks in recent years, Reuters reported.

With inputs from PTI
 

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