Pakistan will renegotiate two key agreements signed with the United States and its Western allies nine years ago as part of a wider policy review following last month’s deadly Nato air raids on Pakistani border posts.
The agreements – both signed in 2002 during former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s regime to allow transit of supplies and logistics support for the US-led Nato forces – were considered crucial for the decade-long battle against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The decision to reconfigure those arrangements was taken at the end of a two-day envoys’ conference convened to revisit the country’s foreign policy against the backdrop of a deadly Nato incursion.
The conference was attended by over two dozen ambassadors and high commissioners serving in key world capitals.
A senior foreign ministry official said that a set of recommendations had been finalised for the government to re-evaluate and review cooperation with the US and Nato.
Recommendations include fresh agreements for Nato supplies and logistics support to the US, minimising the ‘CIA footprint’ in the country, seeking an honourable return of Afghan refugees and pursuing efforts to stabilise Afghanistan irrespective of Washington’s approach, according to the official, who was part of the consultations.
The conference also decided to seek a formal public apology from the US over the November 26 incident and firm guarantees that there would be no violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty in the future, added the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
The envoys, according to the participant, were of the view that the US appears to be uninterested in the Afghan reconciliation process.
However, irrespective of Washington’s approach, Islamabad must redouble its efforts to facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, he added.
The conference recommended that the government reach out to Britain, Germany and other European countries, which have been making efforts to seek a peaceful end to the Afghan conflict.
The diplomats also urged the government to ensure that over 3.5 million Afghan refugees, still living in Pakistan, are repatriated to their homeland.
There are indications that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) may ask Pakistan to extend the repatriation of Afghan refugees’ beyond the 2012 deadline.
Delegates at the conference believe that the repatriation of Afghan refugees is necessary because, according to the government assessment 95 per cent terrorist attacks in Pakistan are traced back to the refugee camps.
The recommendations will now be presented before the parliamentary committee on national security, which has been mandated to redraft terms of engagements with the US. The concluding session of the conference was chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who described the Nato attack as a “huge setback to prospects of the much-needed cooperation among the important stakeholders.”
“Our cooperation with US/Nato/Isaf was based on respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under no circumstances, could we accept flagrant transgression of our territorial frontiers. This remains our baseline and there can be no compromise on sovereignty, dignity and national honour,” Gilani said.
“We expect the US/Nato/Isaf inquiry that is being undertaken to reveal all the facts and provide answers to questions that our own investigations have raised,” he said.
Gilani maintained that recommendations finalised by the foreign ministry will be considered by a joint sitting of parliament.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office said, Sherry Rehman, ambassador-designate to the US, presented the recommendations furnished by the envoys’ conference to the prime minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2011.