MABAD - The political and military elite of the country gathered here under the head of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to review the progress made on the war on terror in the backdrop of the recent surge in the violence in the Tribal Areas and to plug the loopholes creating hurdles in the proper management of these restive areas bordering Afghanistan.
Besides reassigning of the responsibilities to avoid the mistakes committed due to lack of interaction between the government functionaries in the past it was decided in the meeting to enhance the role of tribal elders in the management of the affairs.
Through another major shift the Chief of Army Staff would be made the principal authority for application of the military effort, and the other law enforcement agencies including Frontier Corps NWFP, which used to be the instrument of the Governor and Chief Minister in their respective jurisdiction for law and order, would be placed under the command of COAS for military operations.
The meeting which was held under the chair of Premier Gilani was attended by Governor NWFP Owais Ahmed Ghani, Chief Minister NWFP Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Environment Hameedullah Jan Afridi, Minister for SAFRON Najamuddin Khan, Advisor to PM on National Security Mahmud Ali Durrani, Advisor to PM on Interior Rehman Malik, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani and DG ISI.
The sources privy to the deliberations informed that the resurgence of violence in Tribal Areas was taken very seriously by the participants and it was agreed upon that the loopholes in the management of the affairs should be removed so that the episode of conflicting reports from Federal Government and NWFP should not be repeated.
Sources further disclosed that Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani stressed the need of engaging the militants in dialogue process without compromising the principled stand of the state against terrorism and extremism.
These sources further disclosed that the growing United States concern over the inking of peace accords with Tribal militants also figured in the meeting and it was decided that the key partner on war on terror would be taken into confidence on each and every move taken by Pakistani authorities to root out this menace.
According to the details issued by the Prime Minister Secretariat the meeting unanimously agreed that elimination of terrorism and extremism was the gravest challenge to Pakistan's national security and to fight this menace a multi-pronged strategy would be followed.
The main thrust of Pakistan's policy to counter this challenge would be political engagement of the people through their elected representatives, tribal elders and local influentials. It was also agreed that in addition to the political instrument, large-scale development, economic, empowerment and selective use of military force will be the other prongs of the strategy.
It was decided that the broad objective of this strategy would be to bring about peace, reconciliation and normalcy of life in the country and marginalizing the hard core terrorist, militants and criminal elements, so that Pakistan's national interest reigns supreme.
The meeting decided to ensure that local Tribal customs, traditions and Rivaj(culture and norms) would be respected by all representatives of the government including the military and law enforcement agencies and it would be ensured that all foreign fighters would be expelled from Pakistan's territory.
The meeting decided that Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used against other countries, especially Afghanistan and under no circumstances would allow foreign troops to operate inside Pakistan.
It was decided that while the Provincial Governments would be responsible for their jurisdictions, the Governor NWFP would be the Chief Coordinator for all activity in FATA and maintain intimate liaison with the Federal Government, Provincial Government, important political leaders and the local Military commander.
The meeting decided that the Governor in consultation with the Federal and Provincial Governments, would remain responsible for planning, execution and coordination of a well thought out, comprehensive development plan in FATA. All agreements with the tribes in FATA would be backed by a robust enforcement mechanism. It was decided in case of non-compliance and violation of the agreement, the Government would reserve the right to use force.
The meeting decided that the Governor would also lead all reconciliatory efforts, making sure that the political agreements made with the tribes were based on mutual respect and trust drawing strength from the Rivaj; expulsion of foreign fighters would be the responsibility of tribes and they would be held accountable for the presence as well as actions of all foreign fighters.
The tribes would also be responsible for stopping cross-border movement for militancy across the border from their areas. However, this would require intimate coordination between the political and the military-security prongs of the effort. It was decided that tribes would not fight or target the Army, Frontier Crops and other law enforcing agencies in their areas. They would be made to understand that the use of the force by the military would be justified if the tribes act contrary to their obligations.
It was decided that all agreements with the tribes in FATA would be backed by a robust enforcement mechanism. It was decided that in case of non-compliance and violation of the agreement, the Government would reserve the right to use force
It was agreed that the Army Chief would have the authority to decide on the quantum, composition and positioning of military effort. It was agreed that the principle of use of minimum force and avoidance of collateral damage would be kept in focus; initiate swift operations based on actionable intelligence to eliminate terrorists and to stop hostile movement across the border for operations against Coalition Forces in Afghanistan; decide on the level of liaison, contact and cooperation with ISAF in Afghanistan and keep the Government appropriately informed; and keep the Prime Minister, the Governor NWFP, Defence Minister and Adviser Interior informed about the operations.