Terms of engagement: US favours early joint session on resetting ties

Published: February 27, 2012

Senate session is unlikely to be called before March 11. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVED/EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Acting US Ambassador Richard Hoagland said on Sunday that Washington is waiting for the Pakistani parliament to debate and approve the new terms of engagement between the two countries.

“We are waiting for the parliament’s decision regarding the relationship between the two countries,” Hoagland was quoted as saying by a news channel.

The US Charge d’ Affairs added that Washington was informed by Islamabad that the joint session of the parliament would be convened after the Senate elections.

The elections are scheduled for March 2, but the session is unlikely to be called before March 11 – the day half of the 100-member upper house of the parliament retires.

Sources say the government has deliberately delayed the joint session after a resolution tabled in the US Congress seeking ‘right of self-determination’ for Balochistan.

The session was originally scheduled on February 14 and 15, but it was postponed after Pakistan was outraged over the move by a US lawmaker on Balochistan.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also said last weekend that he would want the joint session to be convened after the Senate elections.

The US, however, is pushing Pakistan to complete its review at the earliest, as this will enable the resumption of Nato supplies suspended since last November.

The acting US Ambassador insisted that his country wants relations with Pakistan based on ‘mutual respect and interest.’

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2012.

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