Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday gave an in-camera briefing to parliamentary leaders on Indian aggression and Pakistan’s response to it.
The briefing, held at the Parliament House in Islamabad, also had Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa in presence.
Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari attended the session along with party delegations.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) delegation included Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Raja Zafarul Haq, Mushahidullah Khan, Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah and Marriyum Aurangzeb.
Sources said the PPP delegates included Khursheed Shah, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Saleem Mandviwala and Raza Rabbani.
“A special meeting of parliamentary leaders was convened at Parliament House today to brief national leadership on the ongoing security situation. The parliamentarians were briefed by FM (foreign minister), followed by DG ISPR,” read a press statement issued after the session. “COAS also interacted with the forum after the brief.”
It said the participants unanimously expressed that they stand united against any aggression against Pakistan and will support the government and its institutions unconditionally.
“They also expressed hope that those who want peace and stability will prevail, as war is not an option but a failure of policy,” the statement said. “National leaders of all political parties offered their services for the cause of peace and progress.”
In the end, the Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker thanked the leadership for their unequivocal support at the moment of crisis, the statement added.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said they took parliamentary leaders into confidence at the meeting.
“The meeting went well; I am thankful to all the parliamentary leaders,” he said, adding that the participants listened to the briefing with patience.
Qureshi said, the parliamentary leaders expressed complete solidarity with Pakistan, the government and armed forces of the country.
“Today, the parliamentary leadership of Pakistan was given an in-camera briefing. I informed the participants of our diplomatic efforts and Foreign Office activities, our engagements and strategy. The DG ISPR, while representing the military’s views, informed about the operations undertaken and the measures taken by Pakistan against [Indian] aggression,” he said.
“And then Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa took everyone into confidence on the overall situation, our alertness, measures taken by us and the way we have been proceeding.”
The foreign minister said he was pleased to tell the nation that there was complete consensus, adding, “All political parties, their leadership present there expressed solidarity with Pakistan, resolved to safeguard the interests of Pakistan, and announced complete solidarity with the government and armed forces of Pakistan”.
“I, on behalf of the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan, want to thank the entire parliamentary leadership,” he said.
Qureshi said during the briefing he also received calls from foreign ministers of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, who offered to play their role in de-escalation of tensions in the region.
“This is clear that PAF’s action boosted the morale of the nation, it was a remarkable action, which establishes the capability of the Pakistani armed forces. India and Modi should act sensibly and avoid further escalation, or else there will unrest in the region,” Shehbaz said.
Asked about the possibility of an attack from India and Pakistan’s capability to tackle it, the NA opposition leader maintained the armed forces of the country are fully prepared for every situation.
When asked about the session and participants’ morale, Zardari said, “The morale is high”.
“The briefing went well,” the DG ISPR said, in response to a question by a journalist after the session concluded.
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said, “Today’s briefing was very important as this was the demand of the opposition. It was also thought that we need to stand together. Whether it is the opposition or government this is Pakistan’s problem. We requested army chief to give a briefing and because of that briefing there was satisfaction and the actual story was understood and the propaganda was revealed.”
He said the prime minister did not have the programme to attend the meeting so why would the opposition object, as they were informed earlier that the premier would not be present.
“It was also not their [opposition] demand,” the minister said.
Regarding heightened tension with New Delhi, Khattak said, “We are working to defuse the situation and are hopeful it would be defused.”