Pakistan's top political leadership was on Friday briefed by Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the security situation in the country after suspected Taliban militants carried out a series of brazen attacks on military and police establishments.
Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha briefed the political leadership about threats and measures being taken to counter them, at a special meeting convened by the government to assess security issues and chart out a course of action to combat Taliban militants.
The meeting was convened by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani soon after he returned to Pakistan last night from an official visit to China, state-run APP news agency reported. The meeting comes in the wake of deadly suicide attacks and bombings targeting major cities including Rawalpindi, Lahore and Peshawar, claiming as many as 170 lives so far this month. Most of the attacks have been blamed on Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan.
The government has decided in principle to launch a military operation in South Waziristan, the main stronghold of the Taliban, and reports said Kayani briefed the political leadership on preparations for the campaign. Reports also said the situation in southern Punjab, where militant groups have consolidated their position and established close links with the Taliban, were discussed by the political leadership.
Some leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's Party have called for intelligence-driven operations to be launched by police in southern Punjab.
Over the past two weeks, Taliban militants carried out a series of suicide attacks, bomb blasts and guerrilla assaults that targeted public places like markets, military and security establishments including the army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and an office of the UN food agency in Islamabad.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has warned the militants could carry out more such attacks in a bid to pressure the government into abandoning its plans to launch a military operation in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Today's meeting was also attended by senior federal ministers, including Interior Minister Malik and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Governors and Chief Ministers of the four provinces, senior opposition leaders including Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of PML-Q and Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Fazlur Rehman were conspicuous by their absence.
Earlier, Gilani held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the national security situation, officials said.