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Parliament's special session tomorrow

Rattled by a string of suicide bombings, Pakistani lawmakers will receive a rare briefing by top military and intelligence brass on the security situation during a special joint session of Parliament on Wednesday .

world Updated: Oct 07, 2008 20:01 IST

Rattled by a string of suicide bombings, Pakistani lawmakers will receive a rare briefing by top military and intelligence brass on the security situation during a special joint session of Parliament on Wednesday as part of government's efforts to evolve a "home-grown" anti-terror policy to take the militancy "head-on".

The move is the latest step by the PPP-led government to combat terrorism following a wave of terror attacks across the country that have claimed hundreds of lives and battered the economy. President Asif Ali Zardari convened the session after consultations with Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the Director General-designate of the ISI, will brief members of the National Assembly and Senate during the in-camera joint session that will get underway at 5 pm on Wednesday.

Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other top military and security officials are also expected to attend the session.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the session has been convened at a time when Pakistan is facing a "critical situation".

"The basic purpose of this meeting is to take all the parliamentarians and political parties on board with a view to formulating a home-grown anti-terror policy because we really have reached a point where the fight (against terrorism) has to be fought by the whole nation, by all political parties and all elements of civil society.

"The war is now too serious to be left alone to the security apparatus or the intelligence agencies," Babar said.
parliamentarians will be provided a comprehensive briefing on internal and external security threats and the progress of operations against the Taliban in the restive tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. The briefing will be followed by a debate on security threats to Pakistan.

The army is expected to explain the need for anti-militancy operations in the tribal areas and how long they will take to conclude. It will also apprise the parliamentarians of steps being taken to reduce civilian casualties and to win the hearts and minds of people.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the joint session of parliament would be a step forward in "taking parliamentarians into confidence on all important issues confronting Pakistan" and it would augur well for the future.

Main opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who will also attend the session as a special invitee though he is not a parliamentarian, cautioned that no individual party could effectively tackle terror on its own. He said the government should evolve a national policy to combat terrorism after taking all political parties into confidence.

There will be no media coverage of the session and no passes will be issued to visitors, guests or journalists. The session is likely to continue for more than one day in view of the importance of the issue being discussed.

The briefing is being held days after suicide bombers unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, a key member of the ruling coalition, and a parliamentarian of the opposition PML-N.

Official sources said the government had decided to "tackle the issue of militancy head-on" and wanted to take elected representatives into confidence during the joint session of parliament.