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Opposition to Boycott In-Camera Briefing on National Security

by Newsweek Pakistan

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The National Assembly speaker had summoned the national security committee meeting for Dec. 6

Pakistan’s opposition parties on Thursday announced they will boycott next week’s in-camera briefing of the national security committee, maintaining that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government’s “dictatorial” behavior can no longer be tolerated.

According to a press release issued by the united opposition—the PPP, PMLN, JUIF, PkMAP, JI, ANP, BNP-Mengal, Qaumi Watan Party, National Party, and independent Mohsin Dawar—it had taken the decision to boycott the Dec. 6 session to protest the government’s “dictatorial” attitude and its recent “bulldozing” into law of several important bills through a joint session of Parliament.

The statement noted that it was disappointing that the government was trying to make Parliament into a “rubber stamp” institution, adding that rather than raising vital concerns through regular proceedings, it was trying to avoid the public glare through in-camera briefings. “In reality, it is the government that has practically boycotted Parliament, which is a constitutional and legal forum of the public,” it said.

Stressing that the united opposition held great respect for Pakistan’s Constitution, laws, and national security, the press release said that opposition parties and their leaders had attended several briefings in the past despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s refusal to do so. This behavior by the prime minister, it alleged, indicated that Khan did not believe in the democratic spirit of consultation and the importance of tolerating differing opinions.

Attending the in-camera briefing in this scenario, read the statement, would merely help the government “stage” a “drama” that did not tackle the critical issues facing the country.

Referring to National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf, who was due to brief lawmakers during the session, the opposition statement said it did not believe he had the authority that his position merited, adding that he was a “showpiece.”

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had earlier this week summoned a meeting of the national security committee for Dec. 6, with Yusuf scheduled to brief lawmakers on national security and other issues. In addition to all major parliamentarians, the speaker had also extended invitations to the chief ministers of all four provinces; the president and prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan.

This is the second meeting of the national security committee within a month; the last meeting was held on Nov. 8 during which parliamentary leaders were briefed by government and military officials on the ongoing talks with the militant Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

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