Pakistani lawmakers to get rare security briefing from spy chief
Pakistani lawmakers were set Wednesday to receive a rare briefing from the country's new military intelligence chief on threats posed by Taliban and al-Qaeda militants based in mountainous tribal regions and the spread of Islamic militancy to settled areas, reproted dpa.
Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who was appointed director general of the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) last week, was expected to brief the closed-door joint session of the parliament's upper and lower houses.
"It is part of our efforts to evolve a consensual national strategy on the fight against terrorism and extremism," said government spokeswoman and Information Minister Sherry Rehman.
The briefing was called as Islamic militants were intensifying suicide bombings against security troops, public places and the nation's political leaders.
In September, a suicide truck bomber hit Islamabad's Marriott hotel killing more than 53 people, including the Czech ambassador, two US marines and a Danish intelligence officer. Last week, the head of the ruling Awami National Party in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) survived a suicide attack.
Taliban militants claimed responsibility, saying the attacks intended to avenge ongoing security operations in tribal belt along the Afghan border and parts of NWFP launched after failed peace talks with Pakistan's new coalition government in March.
Pasha was expected to give a detailed presentation on all four operations in NWFP's Swat valley and three tribal districts as well as the security situation in four other tribal districts.
The areas are believed serve as sanctuaries for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants launching cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.
The United States has stepped up aerial attacks on suspected militants' hideouts inside Pakistan, fuelling public anger in the nuclear-armed country.
Pakistan stands divided on whether to continue or halt cooperation in the international fight against terrorism and operations against the Taliban.
The briefing is the third since 1974, when the then-prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arranged the first broadcast briefing for lawmakers.
In the second session in 1986, legislators discussed the situation in Afghanistan before signing the Geneva peace accord that led to the withdrawal of Soviet forces.
Seventeen non-parliamentarians, including the head of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, are invited to the session, which was scheduled to run for a few days.