Reconfiguring foreign policy: After showing intent, opposition defers debate

Published: March 28, 2012

PML-N and JUI-F lash out at govt; Raza Rabbani defends draft. PHOTO: APP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

A day after it was ignored, debate on proposals for reconfiguration of foreign policy showed up in Parliament on Tuesday – but momentarily.

Stiff resistance marked Tuesday’s proceedings of the joint session of Parliament where a belligerent opposition briefly voiced its first concerns before once again deferring debate on the matter.

The government, however, attempted to assuage the opposition’s concerns, saying it will not take any unilateral decisions in this regard.

The recommendations were drafted by an all-party, bicameral parliamentary panel in the wake of worsening relations between Pakistan and the United States.

“I assure [you] that whatever resolution is passed by this house would not be the decision of mere treasury benches,” said Senator Raza Rabbani, head of Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), which prepared the recommendations.

Opposition tirade

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan pointed out the opposition’s objections, clause by clause.  “These recommendations are not enforceable,” Nisar said, highlighting clauses referring to drone attacks, private security contractors and foreign intelligence operatives in Pakistan, overt or covert operations, and use of airbases by a foreign country.

Nisar also questioned the implementation of Parliament’s decisions.

Pointing out a clause that called for bringing to justice those responsible for the Salala attack, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, Nisar said the US has denied taking any action in this regard.

“What would be the worth of parliament if we pass these recommendations,” he said.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of the eponymous faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, also launched a tirade on the matter.

“I warn [the government], if you pass any such resolution unilaterally, we will not let you implement it,” he said.

Linking the resumption of Nato supply route to an apology from the US is the easy way out, he said, adding that the US would do whatever it takes to serve its purpose.

Responding to the oppositions’ objections, Senator Rabbani said these recommendations were not given by the government but by an all-party parliamentary panel.

“The government would not have blocked the Nato supply, [and] got Shamsi airbase vacated if it wanted to satisfy the US,” he said.

On implementation of previous parliamentary resolutions, Rabbani said he had reports of the foreign, defence and interior ministries and can share them with the house.

The opposition was not the only one that criticised the panel, though.

Senator Farhatullah Babar of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party said that the proceedings of the PCNS were “unwisely wrapped under a cloak of secrecy.”

“By doing so, the committee deprived itself of the wisdom of the people and civil society,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 28, 2012 - 10:38AM

    These proposals are not implementable, e.g., how is Parliament going to stop the drones?? Only IK will have the guts to shoot them down or bring them down like Iran. Without any material to fahrt this Parliament has been long the butt of jokes. “Go for God Sake Go”, said Cromwell to a Parliament that was good for nothing.

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  • Mar 28, 2012 - 11:59AM

    for the first time opposition doing the right the thing

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  • MarkH
    Mar 28, 2012 - 3:14PM

    Dragging it out too long is going to destroy any leverage in the present and the future and there wasn’t much to begin with.
    That’s also a very bad thing if you think a few steps ahead.
    Pakistan is more suspect than reliable as it is.
    People aren’t going to ignore the militants existing within Pakistan’s border even if ties are cut completely. Without contributing something positive, you’ll eventually end up with worse than drones as those contributions are the only thing allowing people to call Pakistan an ally. It’ll fall back to the often quoted “with us or against us” line eventually and if you think your sovereignty is violated right now… Just wait until you’re tagged as an enemy.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 28, 2012 - 9:12PM

    Turning over foreign policy to your Parliament was the death knell of any public deal with the American’s – you may not know it but the American’s are not totally stupid.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 29, 2012 - 12:02AM

    @Billoo Bhaya. How exactly is IK going to shoot down drones? Your civilian govt has no control over your military and your military leaders know the downside of shooting at American’s.

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  • Face the Truth
    Mar 31, 2012 - 3:16AM

    @MarkH:
    Why to be tagged as an enemy? PAK fought this war to bring justice to all the culprits and had to pay a heavy price, a lot of civilians losing their lives and far worst also to bear the US attitude especially incidents like the Salala Post attack and the recent act of US Army to poor children and their families in Afghanistan. Is any action taken against these people or was this act justified? Any apology issued by US President? Dont you think Pakis have feelings too or is it just the Americans? and do you guys even know the meaning of soverignity or soverign state after messing up so many states? cuz if you did things wouldnt have reached the point that they have today.

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