The opposition has moved quickly to pick up a parliamentary resolution passed earlier this year and grill the government on the perceived ignoring of ‘pre-conditions’ set by the joint sitting for the reopening of Nato supply routes through Pakistan.
With many of its top leaders not in the country, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) wasn’t as direct in its lambasting of the move to reopen routes and is more interested in a parliamentary debate on what ‘pre-conditions’ were not met by the United States. Inside sources say that the party chief has given instructions from Germany that a neutral, wait-and-see approach should be adopted.
The sources maintained that the instructions were to first monitor the protests of other parties such as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and pressure groups such as the Difa-e-Paksitan Council (DPC). They claimed that Sharif has strictly forbidden the party from any demonstration or protest outside Parliament.
When approached with this information, PML-N’s Deputy General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal said that the party only wanted the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led coalition to bring the issue into parliament and inform the nation which Parliamentary conditions had been approved.
Nato supply routes had been shut following cross-border airstrikes by US-led forces on Pakistani troops, claiming the lives of some 24 soldiers. After a protracted process, Parliament had then passed legislation that set parameters for the reopening of routes in April this year.
Senator Pervaiz Rashid stated that the PML-N will support the restoration of NATO supplies, if it is done in accordance with the parliamentary resolution. Parliamentary supremacy was also the theme of Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s press statement issued from London.
“It is extremely insulting for Pakistan that supply lines have been reopened even without the acceptance (by the US) of any of parliamentary resolution’s demands. Our national honour has been hurt,” said the statement. He added that the US had only regretted and not apologised for the air raids. “What was the point in stopping Nato supplies if they (rulers) have to bend on their knees in front of Americans … and then the question is why they asked the parliament to take decisions.”
PTI’s chairman Imran Khan also stressed that parliament’s trust had been violated because ‘not a single pre-condition’ had been met by the US.
Talking at a press conference on Wednesday, Imran said that there was a ‘vast difference’ between regret and an apology – and the US had not apologised.
The PTI chairman, flanked by senior leaders, including former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jehangir Tareen, Shafqat Mehmood and Asad Umar, said: “The rulers owe an answer to those who were killed by the Nato strike.”
“I met a widow of a captain who was martyred at Salala and she pleaded that she would not tolerate any compromise on Nato supply routes,” he added. “The rank and file of the army would be very angry on this decision. The Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which comprises military leadership, too, is responsible for this decision.”
Imran said that his party would launch a countrywide campaign to take the matter to the people. “On July 5, we are rallying the people of Gujranwala on this issue and then we’ll be going to Peshawar on 14th to register our protest,” he said.
Separately in Karachi, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the government should not have allowed the resumption of NATO supplies even after an apology from the US.
“Instead of allowing NATO to take supplies through Pakistan, it should try to focus on restoring peace and stability in tribal regions and Balochistan,” he told media persons.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2012.
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