A day before a closed-door session of Parliament is set to investigate the May 2 US raid on Abbottabad, the defence committee of the cabinet announced that it would launch an inter-agency process to ‘clearly define’ the parameters of the country’s cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism.
The meeting of the committee, the highest policy-making body in the country on defence, was headed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and was attended by all of the service chiefs, the chairman of the joint chiefs committee and a few cabinet ministers.
None of the participants of the meeting was willing to discuss the deliberations beyond a press statement that was issued shortly after the meeting concluded. The DCC condemned the US raid against al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty while also “reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to cooperate with the international community in promoting effective joint cooperation in countering terrorism.”
The statement struck a careful balance between seeking to assert Pakistan’s independence and sovereignty while not alienating any of the country’s coalition allies.
The government has been under severe pressure from a public angered by what they perceive as either deception or incompetence on the part of the military and intelligence services that ultimately led to a US raid in the heart of a major Pakistani city.
The government has not yet clarified which agencies will be part of the process that will define the scope of Pakistan’s security cooperation with the US. The statement released by the committee was careful not to use any language that would suggest a major review or revision of the current arrangements with the United States.
One thing, however, was made clear: Pakistan does not support unilateral actions, a sentiment that the statement reiterated. It also suggested that Pakistan may seek more regional cooperation in counter-terrorism, though it was not specified as to what this would entail.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2011.