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Army slams media reports on rift in leadership

Follows news story based on leaks from a meeting

20:27 October 14, 2016

Islamabad: Pakistan army’s top brass on Friday slammed a newspaper report that suggested a rift between civil and military leadership over the issue of tackling militant groups.

A Corps Commanders Conference, presided over by Chief of Army staff General Raheel Sharif, took serious notice of the news story based on leaks from a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC).

“Participants expressed their serious concern over feeding of false and fabricated story of an important security meeting held at PM [prime minister’s] house and viewed it as breach of national security,” said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The interior ministry imposed a travel ban on reporter Cyril Almeida after his controversial article was published on October 6 in English language Dawn newspaper for which he works.

The report stated that civilian participants of the NSC meeting had told the military to act against militants or face international isolation.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday said the reporter’s name was put on the Exit Control List (ECL) because he was scheduled to leave the country and his presence was necessary for investigation.

But during a meeting with representatives of top media bodies on Friday, the interior minister decided to remove the reporter’s name from ECL, local news channels reported.

The army’s public expression of serious concern apparently gave a new twist to the controversy triggered by the report.

The opposition parties intensified their criticism of the government, claiming it had tried to malign the army.

According to the ISPR statement, the Corps Commander’s Conference, held today at GHQ in Rawalpindi, made a “comprehensive review of internal and external security situation.”

There was “particular focus” during the conference on the prevailing environment in the Line of Control in Kashmir — control line between the Indian and Pakistani administrated parts of the state — and operational preparedness of the Army.

The conference rejected the “absurd Indian claims of hoax surgical strikes as an attempt to divert [the] world’s attention away from brutalities being committed by [the] Indian Army against innocent Kashmiris.”

The forum resolved that “any attempt of misadventurism and irresponsible act will be met with the most befitting response.”

While expressing complete satisfaction over operational preparedness of the troops, the army chief reiterated the Pakistan Army’s resolve “to defend the motherland at any cost against full spectrum of threat.”

Gen Raheel Sharif recounted the successes of antiterrorism Operation Zarb-e-Azb so far and resultant stability achieved to propel Pakistan in to a new phase of development and prosperity.

The army chief “re-emphasised the need for sustained efforts on internal security to defeat all hostile attempts to reverse our gains.”

The participants resolved to continue sustained and focused combing and intelligence-based operations across the length and breadth of the country to uproot terrorism, harmonising it with implementation of National Action Plan to address extremism and other causes of terrorism.