Prime Minister to chair NEC meeting on 30th?

WEB DESK: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to return on May 28 from London to preside over a tentatively scheduled meeting of National Economic Council (NEC) on May 30 to approve development outlay and growth targets for the next fiscal year.

When contacted, an official of Prime Minister’s Office said that Prime Minister may return tomorrow (Friday) night. The government intends to celebrate May 28 to commemorate the nuclear tests undertaken in 1998 when Nawaz Sharif was Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister is also expected to attend a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) to take stock of the situation arising out of a US drone strike in Balochistan.

The last meeting of NSC was held in April 2016 after a 17-month gap, presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The agenda was to give a briefing on the steps being taken towards national security in the country and the members expressed satisfaction over counter-terrorism efforts of security institutions.

The overall perception is that during the tenure of the present government the NSC has not taken any major decision or focused on a detailed review of the internal or external security situation.

Muhammad Amir Rana, security and political analyst and Director of Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), said that the NSC, set up by the present government in 2013, is very important in the current situation as it can provide a platform for exchange of views between the civil government and the military leadership.

He added that first it was decided that the NSC would be headed by the Prime Minister and comprise all three service chiefs and chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, federal ministers for defence, foreign affairs, interior and finance, and the national security advisor, and would meet once in a month or after every three months.

“The government needs to hold NSC meetings regularly as it would help alleviate grievances between the civilian and military leadership,” he said.

Defence analyst Lieutenant General Talat Masood (Retd) concurred and emphasised that the government needs to hold NSC meetings regularly, every month.

“There should be continuation in holding NSC meetings which should be called immediately in a crisis situation like the killing of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike,” he said.

He warned that individual decisions must not be taken. “The culture of individual decision making should come to an end and due importance should be given to all institutions,”

he said, adding that Pakistan is facing a number of security challenges therefore a functioning NSC should be ensured. However, INP news agency adds: The stay of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has been extended in London after doctors’ advice and now he is expected to arrive back on Monday or Tuesday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is on a visit to London for treatment, underwent a check-up on Thursday and doctors advised him to take complete rest for 48 hours after his stay there has been extended.

Executive Director of Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) Major General Azhar Kiyani (Retd) was called to London for his check-up. –Business Recorder