In a stunning development, almost three weeks after terrorists attacked an Indian army camp in Kashmir, the Nawaz Sharif government has warned the military leadership of Pakistan that their country is facing global isolation if the security establishment fails to crackdown on terrorism.
Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan, which reported this development on Thursday, said that the civilian government had delivered a "blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning" to the military leadership in a "hushed but surprised room."
Dawn reported an extraordinary exchange between Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, and Lieutenant-General Rizwan Akhtar, chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence, in which the former told the latter than when civilian authorities have taken action against certain groups, then the security establishment has worked behind-the-scenes to set them free.
"Astounded onlookers describe a stunned room that was immediately aware of the extraordinary, unprecedented nature of the exchange," the report said.
The three major takeaways from the top-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday are that military-led intelligence agencies are not to interfere if law enforcement acts against militant groups, the conclusion of the Pathankot investigation, and restarting the Mumbai Attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi antiterrorism court.
This development comes almost three weeks after terrorists attacked an Indian army camp in Uri, Kashmir, which has claimed the lives of 19 soldiers. Since then, India has railed against Pakistan at the United Nations for sponsoring terrorism, and orchestrated an unprecedented boycott of its neighbor in the region, which has led to the postponement of the SAARC summit in Islamabad.
So far, Pakistan had responded by denying any involvement in the terrorist attack on 19 September in Kashmir, while accusing India of crushing civil liberties in the conflict-ridden region. After India conducted surgical strikes into terror bases across the Line of Control on September 29, Islamabad said that New Delhi was lying and no such operation was carried out by the Indian army.
Since the proliferation of terrorism in the region, India has asked Pakistan to stop terrorists from using its territory as a safe haven, and to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai Attacks in which 164 people were killed. New Delhi's longstanding demand has been for Pakistan to end its support for the militancy in Kashmir.
India also believes that the deadly attack on its air force base in Pathankot, which claimed the lives of six security personnel, was carried out by the Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-i-Mohammad.
At a top-level meeting on Monday, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told civilian and military leaders that Pakistan faces diplomatic isolation and that Islamabad's talking points are not having any impact, Dawn reported.
Relations with the United States would further deteriorate if swift action was not taken against the Haqqani network and China wanted a change in course as well, Chaudhry told the "hushed but surprised room," the newspaper reported. On India, Chaudhry underlined the need to complete the Pathankot investigation and for visible action to be taken against the Jaish-i-Mohammad terrorist group.
Beijing has conveyed its willingness to keep blocking India's bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar listed as a terrorist, but has questioned the logic for doing so, Chaudhry informed the meeting, Dawn reported.
Eyewitnesses believe that PM Sharif, who wants to counter any further isolation of Pakistan, was behind Chaudhry's presentation and the Punjab chief minister's confrontation of Akhtar.
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