ISLAMABAD: It’s come to an either-or situation. Either the US should define a role for Pakistan in the Afghanistan reconciliation process as Nato troop withdrawal draws closer – or continue to face a stalemate over the resumption of Nato supplies, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) asserted on Saturday.
The parliamentary committee had been urged by the government in recent days to link the resumption of supplies with the Afghan Endgame.
“Washington should ensure ‘Pakistan’s key and well-defined role’ in the Afghan reconciliation process,” suggested a member of the PCNS, reviewing recommendations on Pakistan-US relations as well as foreign policy in general.
Meanwhile, a senior lawmaker who attended the meeting of the 12-member parliamentary panel meeting told The Express Tribune that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had demanded two points be added to the proposals being reviewed. Firstly, Dr Aafia Siddiqui be released, and second, a solution to the Kashmir issue. The additional inputs are likely to be included in the final draft of these proposals, officials said.
Lawmakers from the ruling alliance –Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – recommended that, “the Nato supplies resumption should also be linked to suspension of drone strikes in Pakistan.” The largest opposition in the National Assembly, the PML-N, also appeared to concur with this demand. For its part, the PCNS is seriously considering it.
However, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman rejected such recommendations during the meeting saying, “Come what may, the Nato routes should not be reopened.” He (Fazl) will not attend PCNS meetings next time – if his recommendations are not entertained by the PCNS, one of participants quoting him as saying.
The committee also unanimously decided to amend three clauses, although these may be deleted from the final draft. The amended clauses concern US intelligence operators and security contractors in Pakistan, guarantees against US footprints on Pakistani soil and the use of military bases in Pakistan.
PML-Q Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed suggested that the committee amend proposals while keeping in mind the changing political scenario in the region. “We should stand united to promote our friendship with neighbours – ensuring the US that we want peace in the region. The Afghan endgame is inevitable, and this message should go to Washington now.”
PCNS Chairperson Senator Raza Rabbani said that members of the committee will meet on a day-to-day basis till April 5. “It’s our (lawmakers’) prime duty to bring about such recommendations which could write a new chapter in the history of state’s foreign policy,” Rabbani said while briefing reporters on Saturday.