Exclusive to The Nation
The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) will discuss key features of a proposed anti-terrorism strategy and formation of Cabinet Committee on National Security and Defence to institutionalise a policy oversight mechanism when it convenes here today (Thursday).
The Foreign Office and the country’s premier intelligence outfit will make presentations onIndiaandAfghanistanat the meeting that will be chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it is learnt.
“Two papers each onAfghanistanandIndiawill be presented separately by representatives of the Foreign Office and military establishment to give their respective perspectives to the DCC,” sources told this Correspondent. Giving their own assessment of the situation, both will suggest a way forward to end tensions that have souredPakistan’s relations with the two neighbouring countries.
This will be the first DCC meeting after the August 6 escalation of tension along the LoC with violations of the 2003 ceasefire agreement on both sides of the disputed territory. It will review key internal and external security challenges thatPakistanfaces at this juncture. Significantly, the meeting takes place just ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s important visit toPakistan. HenceKabul’s demand for release of Taliban leaders including Mullah Baradar is likely to figure in the meeting.
Contours of the proposed Cabinet Committee on National Security and Defence (CCNSD) include a two-tier structure with a planning committee and advisory board to assist it, sources told The Nation. According to the final draft of the proposal, the Committee will be headed by the Prime Minister. The defence, foreign, finance and interior ministers and the three services chiefs would be its members.
The planning committee of the CCNSD will be headed by PM’s Advisor on national security and foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, and have key cabinet ministers, intelligence representatives and federal secretaries as its members, sources said.
The advisory board too will be headed by the PM’s advisor. The board will have think-tanks and subject experts as its members. The secretariat of the CCNSD to be based in the PM’s Secretariat will be headed by a foreign policy expert, perhaps a former diplomat as its head.
The primary objective of the proposed CDNSD is to ensure that policy is not just made and announced but implemented in a coordinated manner with all the key stakeholders on board, sources said.
This will be the first attempt to have a comprehensive, all-inclusive institutionalised oversight mechanism organised at various critical levels of policy-making and policy-implementation.
The focus of the Committee that will have inputs from all relevant ministries and state institutions would be on effective implementation of the national security policy.
“The primary mandate of proposed Committee will be that of oversight body to monitor implementation of the national security policy,” a source said.
The idea of CCNSD was floated after Prime Minister’s visit to the Foreign Office earlier this month.
The Prime Minister on Monday called for a bold review of the country’s foreign policy in his first nationally televised address to the nation after assuming office. His thrust was on friendly ties with neighbouring countries, particularlyIndia. In a bid to end the wave of terrorism and spiralling violence in the country, the PM also reiterated his unconditional offer for dialogue to the Taliban militant leaders. However, he also warned the armed militants that his government was ready to use force if they did not give up violence.