'Shaken' Pak govt seeks to work out joint civil-military strategy on WikiLeaks expose

Islamabad, Dec 3 (ANI): Shaken by "Cablegate", the Pakistan government has convened a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) to deliberate on the crisis.

The DCC meeting will be held on Friday (today) under Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and attended by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the three services chiefs, the ministers of foreign affairs and defence and a couple of other ministers, the Dawn reported.

Although the WikiLeaks expose has not been cited as an item on the agenda, and officially meant to discuss Gilani's forthcoming visit to Kabul and other issues, sources insist that the meeting has been convened mainly because of the storm kicked up by the leaked diplomatic communiques, and the need to evolve a joint civil-military strategy.

The drama is yet to unfold completely but the cables released so far have already highlighted rapidly deteriorating civil-military relations, the growing clout of the US embassy in domestic politics and the international community's concerns over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

While trying to work out a damage-control plan, one of the dilemmas before the DCC would be that no one is sure what more revelations are expected.

But President Asif Ali Zardari and Gilani appear confident that nothing more toxic is likely to come down the pike, the paper said.

The DCC is likely to reiterate that the fears expressed in the leaked cables over the likelihood of Pakistan's nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists are unfounded and baseless, and that the leadership remains fully committed to maintaining foolproof security of the stockpile.

According to sources, little debate is likely on the issue of nuclear security because of a national consensus on the matter, but intense discussions are expected on the depiction of civil-military relations in the classified cables leaked by the whistleblower website. The civil-military equation is critical to national politics and the picture that emerges from the disclosures is that the relationship was at its lowest ebb, the paper said.

It is definitely worrisome that military and civilian leaders criticised each other in meetings with foreign diplomats, but more serious was the doubt expressed in another cable that both sides (the presidency and the military commanders) did not directly discuss their mistrust, the paper added.

"The leaders, both civilian and military, made a mockery of themselves by engaging extensively with the American, British and other western diplomats. They exploited proclivity of our leaders to meet them," a senior diplomat said. (ANI)

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