Pak Army chief, DGMO brief senators on national security

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and other senior army officers briefed the Senate Committee of the Whole House on national security in an extraordinary in-camera session on Tuesday.

The session is being presided over by Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, reports the Dawn.

"It is a matter of honour for me to address an important parliamentary committee," the daily quoted the army chief, as saying, as he began briefing the Senate.

According to sources, the army chief added that trips to certain countries are an important aspect of military diplomacy and that the military is paying close attention to the geostrategic situation in the region.

The Senate was told that the army chief's visits to neighbouring countries had proved to help better Pakistan's relations with them.

"We cannot ignore the changes that are taking place in Afghanistan. Border management is necessary to protect the Pak-Afghan border," the army chief was quoted, as saying.

During the session, the military leadership told the lawmakers present that since their inception in 2015, military courts have decided 274 cases and awarded 161 death sentences.

According to sources, the military leadership further said that 56 convicts had been executed in that time - 13 before the launch of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad and 46 since the launch of the operation.

The lawmakers were told that since General Bajwa was appointed army chief, the military courts had received 160 cases, sources said.

Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza reportedly briefed the lawmakers on the action taken by security forces under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, which was launched in February.

Sources said that the DGMO told the Senate that since the launch of the operation, 1,249 combing and intelligence-based operations have been conducted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He added that 31 major operations have been undertaken in the region.

The DGMO reportedly told the Senate that 13,011 operations have been conducted in punjab - including seven major operations - whereas 1,410 - including 29 major operations - have been undertaken in Balochistan, sources said. The DGMO added that 2015 operations were conducted in Sindh, including seven major operations.

The DGMO said that 18,001 operations were conducted based on intelligence information. He added that 4,983 search-based operations were conducted and 19,993 weapons were recovered.

According to sources, the DGMO also reportedly informed lawmakers that since the launch of the Rangers operation in Karachi in 2013, 8,780 suspects have been handed over to the police, 12,105 weapons have been seized and 1,948 terrorists have been apprehended.

The DGMO reportedly said 154 abductees have been freed from captivity and 154 kidnappers have been apprehended in that time.

Further, sources said that the DGMO reportedly told legislators that since the launch of the operation, 24 soldiers have been martyred.

The army chief, DGMO, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Naveed Mukhtar and Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Maj General Asif Ghafoor arrived at the Parliament House amid strict security arrangements.

The army chief arrived at Parliament House via a helicopter and was welcomed by Deputy Chairman of the Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. He held a meeting with Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani in the latter's chambers before the two proceeded to the Senate hall.

After the in-camera session, DG ISI will brief the media on its proceedings, the Senate Secretariat has said.

This is the first time in six years that the military leadership has come to the Parliament House to brief lawmakers on the security situation.

Last time it was in May 2011 when then army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and then ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha had briefed a joint session of parliament about the Abbottabad operation in which Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden had been killed by US forces.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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