North India Times

Nawaz Sharif warns army not to shield militants

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After facing international isolation on the issue of terrorism, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in an unprecedented move has warned the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups.

Sharif has also directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trials. His orders came after a series of meetings between military and civilian leaders.

The paper quoted unnamed individuals as saying that the government delivered a “blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning” to the military leadership and sought consensus on several key actions, including action against banned militant groups, who were involved in the meetings. At least two sets of actions have been agreed as a result of the most recent meeting, an undisclosed one on the day of the All Parties’ Conference, which took place on Monday.

ISI Director General Rizwan Akhtar, accompanied by National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, will travel to all provinces with a message that military-led intelligence agencies should not interfere if law enforcement agencies act against militant groups that are banned.

Nawaz Sharif directed that fresh attempts be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.

The newspaper writes those decisions, taken after an extraordinary verbal confrontation between Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the ISI DG, appear to indicate a high-stakes new approach by the PML-N government.

Separately, on Monday Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry made an exclusive presentation in the Prime Minister’s Office to a small group of civil and military officials. The paper added that the presentation by the Foreign Secretary summarised the results of the recent diplomatic outreach by Pakistan, the crux being that Pakistan faces diplomatic isolation and that the government’s talking points have been met with indifference in major world capitals.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Prime Minister’s office has rejected the story published in the Dawn newspaper regarding purported deliberations in a meeting on security issues. The spokesman has termed the contents of the story not only speculative but misleading and factually incorrect. The spokesperson added the story is an amalgamation of fiction and half truths which too are invariably reported out of context.

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