Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has said that it is “imperative to sit with the government on matters of national interest” – and that his party has asked the government to seek an end to drone strikes in return for reopening Nato supply routes.
Nawaz’s comments at a press conference on Wednesday came a few days after he met with US Ambassador Cameron Munter. The PML-N’s opposition is a key roadblock to the passing of a resolution by Parliament, which will ultimately lead to reopening of Nato supply routes through Pakistan that have been closed since November last year.
The recommendations by Parliamentary Committee on National Security were supposed to be debated and then passed by a joint sitting of Parliament, but the consensus pursued by the government on the sensitive matter has been elusive given the PML-N’s opposition. The matter has been pending for over three weeks now in the session – but there are reports of an impending breakthrough.
“We have informed the government about the policy of the party to seek guarantees for an end of drone strikes,” he said and clarified the party’s decision to re-join the Parliamentary Committee on National Security saying: “On matters of national interest, it is imperative to sit with the government.”
In an apparent retort to US President Barack Obama’s demand that the Pakistani government respect Washington’s security needs while reviewing its foreign policy, Nawaz said the world needed to be mindful of Islamabad’s concerns as well.
“We do not want to live in isolation… we have to live with the world. The world should take care of our concerns and respect our sovereignty and independence as well,” Sharif said. He added that the message had already been conveyed to US Ambassador Cameron Munter and British High Commissioner Adam Thomson.
He, however, suggested that Pakistan and the US should sit together to address each other’s concerns and find an amicable solution.
Call for Early Elections
Reiterating his demand for holding early elections, the PML-N chief said that the government has miserably failed to deliver and the only solution was early elections.
“The nation can no longer tolerate the incumbent rulers, who are known for their corruption,” he added.
Rejecting the notion that his party was a “friendly opposition”, he said, “If we were, then President Zardari would not have used harsh language against us (when in Lahore recently).”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.