Islamabad, May 14 (Express Tribune/GeoTV): Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) meeting on Monday termed former Premier Nawaz Sharif’s comments regarding the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks as “incorrect and misleading”, said a statement released by the government.
In a one-point agenda meeting pertaining to the remarks made by Nawaz, representatives of the three branches of the armed forces, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser (NSA) Nasser Khan Janjua, Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Naveed Mukhtar and other senior cabinet officials were present.
“The meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of Mumbai attacks, as it appeared in the Daily Dawn of 12th May 2018, and unanimously termed this statement as incorrect and misleading,” said the statement.
The high-level huddle further observed that it was ” very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities”.
Participants of the meeting further rejected the allegations and condemned assertions based on false beliefs.
In a rare occurrence, Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah, was also summoned to the meeting in a special request by the army chief, as opposition leader isn’t part of the official NSC panel.
The meeting lasted approximately for two and half hours. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi presided over the meeting. The PM took Nawaz into confidence before issuing the official NSC presser.
Abbasi Meets Nawaz
After the NSC meeting Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called on former premier and party supremo Nawaz Sharif on Monday.
Sources said the two leaders, who met at the residence of Chaudhry Muneer, discussed the NSC meeting.
Three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz has been in the limelight for months, but for all the wrong reasons. On Sunday, he was once again making the headlines, and this time for stirring a new controversy on Pakistan’s role in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” Sharif asked in an interview to Dawn.
“We have isolated ourselves. Despite giving sacrifices, our narrative is not being accepted. Afghanistan’s narrative is being accepted, but ours is not. We must look into it,” he added.
His remarks were immediately picked up by Indian media, which termed the former prime minister’s statement as a confession of Pakistan’s role in the Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead.
Back home, opposition parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) launched a broadside against Sharif, calling him a security threat.
Even Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the former interior minister, did not endorse Sharif’s statement. He held India responsible for the delay in the trial of the Mumbai attack suspects.
The meeting was being convened on the suggestion of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Major-General Asif Ghafoor.
The Prime Minister’s Office usually issues statements on the NSC. However, it remained tight-lipped on the issue.
Although Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and his cabinet members did not offer any statement, the ruling party did issue a statement clarifying that Sharif’s statement was misquoted and blown out of proportion by Indian channels and a section of the Pakistani media.
The NSC meeting was attended by Defense Minister and acting foreign minister Khurram Dastgir, the top brass of military leadership, including Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Lt Gen Naveed Mukhta.
Nawaz Sharif, in a recent interview to Dawn newspaper, had said, “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”
His remarks were played up by the Indian media as an admission of Pakistan’s involvement in the terrorist attacks, even though similar questions and statements have been raised from civilian and security officials in Pakistan earlier.
Following the backlash on international and local media, army spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had announced that they had “suggested” that the NSC meeting be called to clarify the country’s stance on the statement.
Nawaz Misinterpreted Says PML-N
Nawaz sharif’s party the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz),issued a clarification on Sunday stating that Nawaz’s remarks were “grossly misinterpreted by Indian media”.
“Unfortunately, a section of Pakistani electronic and social media has intentionally or unintentionally not only validated but has lent credence to the malicious propaganda of Indian media without going through the full facts of the statement,” a party spokesperson said.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a series of tweets posted later in the day, said the PML-N “rejects all assertions, direct or implied” in the media reports. “We strongly believe that interests of Pakistan [are] supreme to all personal & political interests,” he added.
India used Mumbai attacks to malign Pakistan: Nisar
Former Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, weighing on the recent wave of discussion on the 2008 Mumbai attacks, remarked earlier today that the incident was used by India to malign Pakistan.
“Pakistan was heavily criticized over the Mumbai attacks,” he shared in a statement while referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s remarks on the Mumbai attacks.
“India used the Mumbai attacks for its own despicable plans,” said Nisar, who has swayed away from Nawaz since his ouster last year.
(The featured image at the top shows Pakistan’s National Security Council meeting to discuss Nawaz Sharif’s statement on Mumbai attacks. Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi is in the chair)