Reconfiguring foreign policy: Opposition coalesces against US ties proposal

Published: March 25, 2012

Opposition leaders discuss the parliamentary proposals on foreign policy during a high-level huddle in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

Generous servings of fruit helped bring together an otherwise-divided opposition.

In what could prove to be a major setback for the government, the country’s key opposition parties huddled on Saturday and hinted at rejecting draft recommendations on foreign policy submitted by a parliamentary panel.

While the government, with its coalition partners, has a majority in Parliament and can have the recommendations approved, it might still attempt to win the opposition back for a joint ownership of key foreign policy recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) when the joint session of Parliament resumes on Monday, March 26.

The opposition’s rejection is likely to further delay normalisation of bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States.

The government would not risk irking the opposition in the election year, and subsequent street agitation, if it bulldozes the recommendations through Parliament, without taking the opposition on board, sources said.

Opposition coalesces

The main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has already decided to oppose the draft recommendations formulated by the PCNS with an aim to appease its right-wing vote bank.

Key recommendations include reopening of Nato supply lines, albeit with additional financial charges.

The PML-N has simultaneously been contacting other opposition parties to convince them to oppose the recommendations.

Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Aftab Khan Sherpao of Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao and Salim Saifullah Khan of the PML-Q (Likeminded group) met at the residence of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Saturday to discuss their future course of action.

Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that the opposition leaders decided to vote against the recommendations.

“The decision either to boycott the proceedings during the voting or voting against the resolution will be taken during a meeting scheduled for Monday,” sources said.  “It is my hunch that the opposition cannot converge [with the government] over this issue,” Salim Saifullah told The Express Tribune.

Citing non-implementation of pervious parliamentary resolutions and Supreme Court orders, he said: “What guarantee is there that the government will implement the parliamentary recommendations?”

The final decision regarding the opposition’s strategy will be taken on Monday, he said, adding, with a hint of skepticism, that “nothing is absolute in politics,” and that there could be last-minute changes.

The government will not be allowed to hijack Parliament for its personal gains, said Maulana Fazlur Rehman while addressing the media after the meeting.

“If the government gets the recommendations approved due to its numerical strength, it would be a policy of the government and not a collective stand of Parliament,” he added.

In an attempt to disown the proposed recommendations drafted by the all-party, bicameral PCNS, the maulana said that representatives of the opposition had expressed their reservations during the proceedings of the panel.

Chaudhry Nisar remained vague in his critique and said his strategy would be “to press the government to formulate a policy in accordance with the needs of national security.”

“We are least bothered if anyone gets annoyed with our strategy. We will keep our national interests in mind when we go to the session on Monday,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Mar 25, 2012 - 9:38AM

    Supplies must not be restored, Its the mistake we are gonna make again and will regret for it in future, Millions of innocent Afghan civilians are killed due to our support. They are coming for us now even if we open the supply routes or not.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:48AM

    Normalization of relations with US should not be linked with opening of NATO supply routes through Pakistan.

    Look at the Pakistan prior to 9/11 and after 9/11.

    We have no choice between protecting Pakistan and dragging Pakistan into more chaos.

    To please US, Pakistan and the nation have already paid a heavy price.

    On one hand we have accepted civil and military aid from US, but on the other hand we have lost foreign investments from other foreign countries resulting in multiplying unemployment in the country and in earning foreign exchange.

    Our exports have drastically came down due to law and order situation, non-fulfillment of export orders in time.

    The other side of the picture is that we have lost the soft image of Pakistan in the world.

    Due to increase in suicide attacks that are conducted against maintaining un-neutral relations with US, uncounted innocent people have dies all across the country and there is no estimate of losses of public and private properties.

    If we cannot maintain a balance in our relations with US, I am afraid that a time will come when people will come out on the streets demanding to break ties with US and let them live with peace in Pakistan.

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  • Mar 25, 2012 - 10:05AM

    Are they eating or discussing an important matter??Recommend

  • dv sikka
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:27AM

    How many pakistans are there. At least on matters relating to foreign affairs there must be consensus between various Pakistans.

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  • kmk
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:43AM

    NATO supply roures must not be retored again.

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  • MUNIB
    Mar 25, 2012 - 11:09AM

    NATO supplies should be open and PAK should stop playing double game with Inernational community. We ask for dollars on one hand and keep on supporting jihadi groups and TTP type groups on other hand. We are not willing to strike them but dont want the USA to strike them too and make too much noise on collateral damage. The international community is not a fool like our own nation. Not counting the exceptions the AFG are killed by TALIBAN not USA.

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  • Myvisiblepath
    Mar 25, 2012 - 11:25AM

    Mr. N S ur patron in chief zia had initiated to with league terrors and usa and. May be u forget that? Molana is crying needs desil but what u want? Usa had arranged to send u to ksa. Be thankful please.Recommend

  • Mar 25, 2012 - 11:39AM

    i would agree with restoration of supplies over a big taxation on them, or let the same be done via pakistan railways, and atleast that would profit..

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  • Azmat Ali
    Mar 25, 2012 - 12:14PM

    Its good to see opposition unite for the Recommendations on the National Security.

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  • Bilal Ahmed
    Mar 25, 2012 - 12:57PM

    LOL @ “Generous servings of fruit helped bring together an otherwise-divided opposition.”

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  • Mar 25, 2012 - 1:09PM

    no discuss country policy just eating

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  • MarkH
    Mar 25, 2012 - 2:55PM

    Comments severely overestimate Pakistan’s leverage and don’t take into consideration that they’re not the only ones who have the ability to react. Considering you’re home base to the terrorists, it’s not in your interest to no longer play a positive role. The whole with us or against us thing has no expiration date and though you seemingly like to forget, they’re NATO supplies. Not just US supplies. If you think it won’t hurt your already terrible relation with most of the world, you’re dreaming. People are being patient, not subservient and waiting for the divine word of Pakistan. Unlike the with us or against us statement, patience does have a limit.

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  • Tony C.
    Mar 25, 2012 - 7:35PM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dear Mohammad Ali Siddique,:
    You have given one of the more succinctly,accurate explanations of the social, economic, military problems facing Pakistan. You have described a situation most of the U.S./ Zionist puppet countries have become involved in. This senseless, prolonged military engagement, which is a type of war when you are not having a war, is bleeding everybody dry of wealth/security with very little in return, and unfortunately Pakistan, which is at the cutting edge , is suffering the most after Afghanistan. One could describe how this skirmish started, and who are the good people and who are the bad ones, but after ten years we have to face the fact that whatever the powers above are struggling to do do, it would be apparent to a sixth grader that it is not working. Unfortunately, the U.S have a problem in their own mind, and they are making it the problem of everybody else. I am sure that people such as the Taliban and the U.S. who have spent much treasure and lost many lives do not wish to give up, but somebody has to take the high ground and say “enough is enough”. It is my view that the Pakistan Government is well placed to take a leadership role in this conflict for a variety of reasons, but particularly the ethnic/religious aspects. I am not saying that it would be easy, but there must be somebody in Pakistan with the Leadership/Statesman qualifications to take on the role. It is up to the Pakistan Government to think about this long and hard, and come up with something. I think they are going through the thinking process now. It is absolutely certain that nobody, outside Pakistan has the qualifications, strength of purpose, ability, or wish to quickly bring this conflict to an end. I can only say to the various parties within the Pakistan Government, stop arguing among yourselves, speak with one voice, tell the American/NATO forces that you are large, powerful, a sovereign nation, and you want them out of their. Nobody else will do it.

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  • Tony C.
    Mar 25, 2012 - 8:15PM

    @MarkH:
    Dear Mark,
    One little point you might have missed is that the U.S. is driving itself further and further into a quagmire of senseless war and debt. That is OK, if they want to destroy themselves, but if they continue with the ridiculous statement “you are either with us or against us”, it is not OK. The statement was made about ten years ago by a war criminal who barely had enough brain to breath. I would like to think we have moved on since then, but if we have not everybody will be doomed to suffer the same fate as America. You know, failing health systems, failing education systems, collapsing infrastructure, failing democracy, growth of the police state, and failure of all the other aspects of a healthy civilized, contented and happy country.

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  • Harry Stone
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:14PM

    @Tony C.:

    For all it short comings that you like to point out the rest of the world is trying to play catch up. When you see Americans fighting to get into PAK and leave their nation then and only then will you be correct.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 25, 2012 - 9:28PM

    Of course the opposition is going to oppose a proposal put together by the majority — it’s why they call they the opposition. It’s an OBVIOUS reason why your don’t allow the Parliament to establish foreign policy – any proposal becomes a political football to be kicked around the field accomplishing nothing.

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  • Tony C.
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:15PM

    @Harry Stone:
    I am not sure what you mean by catch up, but the difference in America since the days before President Reagan and now are profound. The American economy is heading South at an alarming rate. The actual borrowing debt is about 16 trillion dollars, If you start thinking about unfunded debts, balance of trade with China and other countries the debt level climbs to well over 100 trillion dollars. Most of the current and future wars are, or will be, unfunded as are future pension payouts. I do not know what this means in terms of, what is the debt for every American, because my calculator just cannot handle the huge amounts, but I think I can safely say the average taxpaying citizen is in for a rough time. Oh, and by the way, the longer America rampages around South Asia dropping its low level nukes and generally damaging Pakistan, the less Americans will be trying to get into Pakistan. Has it ever occurred to you how much better off America would be if she would just bring the troops home? Do me a favor Harry and vote for Ron Paul. He maintains that he will bring the troops home if elected President. Let some other country do the fighting if they are dumb enough. Recommend

  • Tony C.
    Mar 25, 2012 - 10:20PM

    @Cautious:
    Dear Cautious,
    Of course you are correct. Let the Pakistan Government do what the Americans do. Let the Zionists establish foreign policy.

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  • Hamda imam
    Mar 26, 2012 - 4:48AM

    NATO is on our security duty their supply is better to restoreRecommend

  • Tony C.
    Mar 26, 2012 - 6:44AM

    @Harry Stone:
    Dear Harry.
    I just found a humongous calculator under my house. I hardly ever use it so store it under the house. By using it I have determined that all the incurred U.S. borrowings have created a debt of over $2,000,000 per American citizen, including every child which is born, and of course this monstrous debt is growing. I could spell out the incurred debts in detail, but I think you should seriously consider advising your children to consider living elsewhere.

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