It has now become apparent that no political party wants to own the decision of ending the four-month Nato supply blockade, an unpopular decision, to say the least.
A bipartisan parliamentary panel, which is redrafting a new framework for ties with the United States, has now hit a new roadblock after opposition parties refused to own the decision of lifting Nato supplies for coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Monday’s proceedings of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) were also marred by the boycott of the country’s main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), in protest against the recent hike in oil and gas prices by the government.
After a two-day gap, the committee headed by ruling Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Mian Raza Rabbani met here at the Parliament House in an effort to evolve a consensus on the revised terms of engagements with the US.
The committee decided to revisit its earlier recommendations after opposition groups, including the PML-N, voiced reservations on certain proposals. The major area of concern for the opposition is the implementation part, as they are skeptical of the parliamentary review.
One of the changes being contemplated in the original draft was linking the resumption of Nato supplies with the cessation of drone strikes inside the country’s tribal belt. However, it is not clear if the government agrees to such an idea, as Washington has conveyed to Islamabad in categorical terms that there can be no change in their drone policy.
A participant of the meeting told The Express Tribune that Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam (F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman suggested excluding the clause related to the resumption of Nato supplies from the revised terms of engagements.
“It is a decision that has to be taken by the executive authority,” Rehman was quoted as saying by a committee member.
“When the government shut down Nato supplies, it did not ask the Parliament. And now the government wants the Parliament to own an unpopular decision,” the JUI-F chief remarked.
The development is likely to set back the parliamentary review. Raza Rabbani, the committee chairman, acknowledged that the process of redrafting the new terms might go beyond April 5, when the joint session of Parliament was to resume the debate. He said only those proposals would be revisited where certain political parties had reservations.
“The committee is part of the Parliament and has nothing to do with the government,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.