Pakistan army chief briefs top leaders on national security

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Islamabad, Apr 3 (UNI) Pakistan's Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani has briefed top political leadership, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, on national security matters, officials said today.

This was for the first time since 1999 Kargil crisis that an army chief briefed politicians on security matters.

Co-chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Ali Zardari, Chief of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Nawaz Sharif, some federal ministers and other coalition partners of the new government attended the briefing.

The Army team apprised the political top brass of efforts made by the military to stabilise the situation in restive tribal regions infested by al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives and bring normalcy in the turbulent Swat valley, where security forces have been engaged in tracking down Islamic militants headed by Maulana Fazalullah, also known as Mullah radio for running his own FM radio station.

Prime Minister thanked the Chief of the Army Staff for the presentation.

The Prime Minister decided to conduct a detailed evaluation of the situation, as presented by the Army in consultation with coalition partners.

He said a comprehensive strategy based on political engagement, economic development and backed by a creditable military element will be evoled to address the menace of terrorism and extremism.

In a related development, the army chief replaced President Pervez Musharraf's close confidant and chief of military intelligence Major General Nadeem Ejaz.

''The army chief has appointed Major General Muhammad Asif in Ejaz's place,'' military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told UNI. General Asif was serving as defence attache at Pakistan's embassy in Russia.

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