Senate of Pakistan

Minutes of the Meeting

September 28, 2012


The first public Hearing of the standing committee on Defence and Defence Production took place on 28th September, 2012 at the Parliament House, Committee room 1, at 10.30 am. Chairman of the standing committee on Defence, Senator Mushahid Hussain presided over the hearing. Following members were present:
1) Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed Chairman
2) Senator Farhatullah Babar Member     
3) Senator Faisal Raza Abidi Member    
4) Senator Col.®Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi Member    
5) Senator Haji Mohammad Adeel Khan Member    
6) Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq Member
7) Senator Seher Kamran Member

2. The meeting started with Tilawat from the Holy Quran.
3. The Chairman Mushahid Hussain introduced the panel of guest speakers:
1) Dr. Shireen Mazari
2) Mr. Tariq Khosa
3) Mr. Saleem Safi

4. Dr Shireen Mazari talked about nuclear deterrence. She mentioned the FMCT (Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty). This treaty aims to prohibit its signatories from further production of fissile material which helps in making nuclear bombs. Pakistan is being accused by other powers for a hold up. However Pakistan argues that first all countries need to cut down existing reservoirs of fissile material and then once a level playing field is attained, the FMCT should be signed. She added that when Pakistan began the development of its short range missiles, such as NASR, it was criticized over the fact that Pakistan will use it as a battlefield weapon. She said that one of our major mistakes was with regards IAEA. All our civilian reactors are subject to IAEA and initially our position was that we wanted India to follow the same terms. However later due to some form of external pressure, our own Ambassador wrote a letter in which he accepted that INDIA should have a special safeguards agreement which it can go back on anytime. Dr Shireen made a few recommendations. She proposed a reduction in Conventional Force and a number Crunching strategy with India as to how many missiles each country will deploy. She mentioned that the Pakistan’s nuclear button is under a Centralized Civilian Authority. It comes under the NCA (National Command Authority) which has a considerable civilian representation headed by the Prime Minister. She ended by saying that it is now essential to realize that for India and Pakistan there can be no zero sum game and both states need to move towards cooperation.  She concluded that nuclear deterrence should be our main focus.

5. Mr. Tariq Khosa talked about counter terrorism as a strategy. Mr. Khosa talked about a Special Investigation Group that was started when he was serving. This group was trained by the FBI and Scotland Yard. FIA could assist the police however did not have the mandate for investigation itself. He added that an important step however that was taken at the time was the Watch list system. A watch list system was set up on almost sixteen entry points into the country which was very helpful in investigation. Mr. Khosa applauded the hearings in 2008 after which a Parliamentary Consensus Resolution was reached. PM Gilani said that there was a need for a civilian national Anti Terrorism Authority following which NCTA (National Counter Terrorism Authority) came into being. Mr. Khosa suggested that NCTA should report directly to the PM and should be given a legal framework. The counter terrorism wing of ISI should be allowed to deal with Al Qaeda however it should also be given a legal framework.
Mr. Khosa added that Parliamentary Committees should also work through a legal framework. Banning of militant organizations is not the solution rather anti terrorism laws need to be under constant review. He concluded by saying that Counter Terrorism Strategy had to have a preventive and rehabilitative role and the issue of national Defence is both internal and external.

6. The final speaker Mr. Saleem Safi began by highlighting is area of expertise i.e. the Afghanistan issue. He argued that the US withdrawal or defeat in Afghanistan is not a victory for either Afghanistan or Pakistan; rather the two are facing even greater challenges. Safi mentioned two important consequences of the Afghan situation. Firstly he said that if the US continues its presence in Afghanistan and in fact gains control in the North leaving the East and other parts to be controlled by the Taliban, it will have disastrous results for Pakistan. Pakistan will be deprived of access to Central Asia; something that has been a dream for Pakistan since a while now. Following this, Safi talked about the difference in the approach towards civil and military. He said that cooperation was needed between institutions over the issue of counter terrorism. Pakistan needs to realize that peace in Afghanistan is immensely important for itself. Also it is essential to quit military solutions and the use of proxies to gain control of the situation. There is a dire need to build economic and cultural ties. Safi then highlighted the situation in FATA. He explained that the people of FATA are like a sandwich between the military and the militants. He said that most leaders of FATA had entered into a deal with the Taliban. The situation in FATA is in reality a fall out of the situation in Afghanistan and the TTP (Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan) is in fact an extension of the Afghan Taliban.

7. A brief question and answer session followed which was mainly dominated by the comments and remarks of the Parliamentarians present. Senator Farhat ullah Babar glossed briefly over the presentations of all three speakers. While talking about nuclear deterrence he said that gradually or position has evolved to become that of nuclear deterrence. But he also said that it is important for us to realize whether nuclear weapons are really an effective form of deterrence

8. Senator Raja Zaffar ul Haq said that the government while making policies should take into account the opinion of the intellectuals and experts on the field as well. He appreciated the remarks of all three speakers.

9. Senator Tahir Mashhadi agreed with the ideology of nuclear deterrence. He said that there needs to be a distinct difference between the law enforcers and the law breakers and it is also the responsibility of the courts to look into the matter of counter terrorism. He supported Saleem Safi’s suggestion of bringing FATA into the mainstream.

10. Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel talked about the issue of sectarian violence as mentioned by Mr Khosa. He said that it grew immensely after the Iranian Revolution as previously there were even many intermarriages among Shias and Sunnis and this issue was not one of the mainstream problems. About the situation in Afghanistan he questioned all the experts present that why do most circles in Pakistan support an end to US control in Afghanistan even though Pakistan itself is a strong ally of the US.
11. Senator Seher Kamran appreciated the public hearing held by the committee on Defence. She talked about the Baluchistan issue and said that the Bahrain police have many recruits from among the Baloch population and so their capabilities have been proven internationally. It is now time for us too to bring them into the mainstream. She also emphasized the importance of reforms for the mosques. She mentioned the example of Saudi Arabia where mosques were only opened during prayer times and were not used for other activities.

12. Senator Faisal Raza Abidi talked about sectarian violence and he emphasized at understanding the reasons behind these conflicts. He added that we need to respect and honor our Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies. He said that if courts will release terrorists then it is impossible to have rule of law in the country. He mentioned the Bannu Jail incident and criticized the courts for not taking any action against it.

13. A large number of media, NGOs and civil society representatives including a 13-member delegation of the faculty and students of the National Defence University (NDU), plus the Special Secretary of the Senate, Mr Amjed Pervez, who is Secretary of the Defence Committee, also attended. The meeting was followed by a lunch at the Parliament Cafeteria.


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