Cigarettes help Kayani survive Parliament ordeal


Pakistan Army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, had to make do with cigarettes and biscuits rousted up from staff and security personnel of Parliament during the in-camera session last week to discuss the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US raid.

Kayani, a heavy smoker, went into the corridors of Parliament House many times during Friday’s session for smoke and finished his stock of favourite cigarettes.

He could not find more of his brand as no one was allowed to take items like mobile phones and cigarette packets inside Parliament due to strict security arrangements.

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani,

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani,

Capstan cigarettes were taken from security guards manning the gates and served to Kayani, which he smoked after having some biscuits, sources were quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

The three service chiefs attended the stormy marathon session that was briefed by top military officials, including Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, on the May 2 operation by US special forces against bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad.

The limited quantity of food available in Parliament cafeteria ran out within an hour.

When Kayani asked the head of the National Assembly Secretariat’s media cell, Anjum Mughal, for some food, the official arranged some biscuits from the office of the Speaker’s secretary and served them to the army chief and his colleagues.

Many Parliamentarians and other participants in the joint session remained hungry during the 11-hour joint session that ended after 2 am on Saturday.

At the start of the session, the Prime Minister presented a resolution for adoption. The resolution, reportedly prepared by the Foreign Office, was rejected by the lawmakers.

The three service chiefs sat in the Senators box and witnessed the proceedings.

Mehboob Gurmani, a senior official of the secretariat, said no one had expected the session would stretch for almost 12 hours and thus, no special arrangements were made for food.

The doors of Parliament House were closed to everyone till the end of the session and all irrelevant staff of the Senate and National Assembly left the building.

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