ISLAMABAD - The army commanders on Thursday officially met for the first time in the ongoing year to exchange professional notes on a number of crucial issues concerning the military.

Conspicuously, the event coincided with the scheduled hearing of an all important case in a special court against General (r) Pervez Musharraf on the charges of high-treason that saw quite a high drama following the ex-dictator’s sudden ‘heart ailment’ that resulted in his admittance at a military hospital in Rawalpindi.   

The Musharraf issue, continued targeted offensive in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), the revived peace measures between Pak-Indian militaries at the eastern border, Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary and the conduct of this year’s upcoming annual meeting of the Army Promotion Board for granting promotions to the brigadier-rank officers were the subjects of discussion in the 168th Corps Commanders Conference, intelligence insiders said.

There was no word from the army’s mouthpiece Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the issues discussed in the meet-up, which raised speculations about the possible agenda of the meeting. A ceremonial photograph of the event was issued instead.

This is the second commanders moot with incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif in chair. The meeting saw the participation of the two newly-appointed corps commanders Lieutenant Generals Obaidullah Khattak (Commander Army Strategic Force Command) and Zahid Latif Mirza (Commander Army Air Defence Command), who were recently promoted to the three-star general rank along with Lt-Gen Ikram-ul-Haq (Inspector General Training and Evaluation IG T&E).

The intelligence sources said the commanders in the Thursday meeting discussed the army’s perspective vis-à-vis Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf. On this count, the two options are already under reported consideration, either to issue a formal press release to be attributed with the COAS or Pakistan Army on the military’s stance about Musharraf’s trial or to conduct an unofficial briefing for the media men to be given either by chief of general staff (CGS) or director general ISPR or the intelligence officials concerned.

The conduct of commanders meeting Thursday on the heels of the dramatic turns of events involving Pervez Musharraf had got some reports do rounds in the privy circles that the possibility of giving ‘safe passage’ to the ex-army chief under the camouflage of a health condition was discussed by the military men. A pertinent explanation cited on this count was the foreign office’s conspicuous confirmation on Thursday on the arrival of Saudi foreign minister on Monday.

A senior intelligence source, however, dispelled that any possibility as paving way for Musharraf’s safe exit was taken up in the commanders meeting. Notes were exchanged with regard to the army’s perspective on the former-COAS issue, he said.

“Professional, not political matters were discussed,” he claimed.

Another important issue, according to sources, discussed in the commander’s meeting involved reviewing progress on the ongoing military offensive in NWA. The operation, the intelligence officials said, would continue for several weeks in Miranshah and Mirali subdivisions while it would not be stretched to Razmak subdivision.

“Most area has been secured from the foreign militants. The operation is still at combatant stage. The combing and clearing phases would follow in the coming weeks,” the intelligence men informed.

On eastern front, the security situation at the border, LoC and Working Boundary in the aftermath of the recent meeting between the DG military operations (MOs) of Pakistan and Indian armies was reviewed for enhancing contacts at the division, brigade, regimental and battalion levels through border coordinates and hotline communication, the sources further informed.

In addition, the generals’ meet-up is said to have discussed the specifications for the upcoming Army Promotion Board’s meeting for brigadier-to-major general officers promotions. The meeting, which is expected by March, would take up the cases of the senior-most army brigadiers for the elevation of 19 to 29 officers to the two-star general rank.