Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was briefed on internal and external security issues at the Pakistan Army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi today.

In his first visit to the General Headquarters since he assumed office in June, Sharif laid a wreath at the memorial of martyrs and held a one-on-one meeting with outgoing army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The meeting was followed by a detailed briefing that was attended by Kayani. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar accompanied the premier.

Earlier in the day, media reports said several pressing issues, including talks with the outlawed Pakistani Taliban and appointment of a new army chief and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, would be discussed during Sharif’s meeting with the military leadership.

Kayani, who is set to step down at the end of this month, also currently holds the post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee after the retirement of Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne last month.

Sharif’s visit to the General Headquarters came against the backdrop of the death of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike and the subsequent appointment of hardliner Mullah Fazlullah, a sworn enemy of the army, as his successor.

Following the Taliban’s threat to attack military and government installations and functionaries to avenge Mehsud’s death, the government is in a bind over its proposed peace talks with the militants.

The powerful army was angered by the Jamaat-e-Islami chief’s description of Mehsud as a martyr and asked him to apologise. The Jamaat took on the military yesterday, saying it did not have the right to interfere in politics.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said Sharif’s visit to the General Headquarters was aimed at expressing solidarity with the martyrs of the army. He said the military had represented the sentiments of every patriotic Pakistani by criticising the Jamaat.

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Free Press Journal