Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has said that the Abbottabad debacle should help curtail the role of security and intelligence agencies in the running of the country and demanded that their budgets should be presented to a parliamentary panel.
The ultimate goal behind the establishment of an independent commission to probe into the May 2 covert raid by US special forces is to ensure that no parallel government is being run in the country, the PML-N chief told a news conference at his Raiwind residence on Saturday. Demanding the resignation of any individual is not the ultimate aim of this commission, he added. Sharif said the basic aim of the commission is to fix responsibility of the Abbottabad debacle and consequently circumscribe the role of the army, the elected government and the intelligence agencies in the running of the country under the law.
Security and intelligence agencies should not topple governments, fund or promote one political party over another, formulate foreign policy in place of elected governments, divide political parties, create an allied opposition against governments and torture journalists, he said.
Security agencies have run the affairs of the state as a ‘parallel government’ and often subverted the consultative process of elected governments, Sharif bemoaned.
He said it is the function of elected governments to formulate foreign policy, vis-à-vis India, Afghanistan and the US but, unfortunately, security agencies have been subverting elected governments’ plans for the last five decades.
Sharif said he had invited then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore in 1999, who announced during his visit that the Kashmir dispute would be resolved within a year. Security agencies, however, undermined and then ultimately derailed the peace process by launching the Kargil war, he added.
If elected representatives can pass a unanimous resolution like the one on the Abbottabad fiasco, then they can also resolve the Kashmir dispute, he said, adding that his party wants to change the popular mindset that political forces are incompetent while the army and the intelligence agencies are the only ones capable of resolving the country’s problems.
Sharif added that intelligence agencies need to stop interfering in the electoral process if forces of extremism and terrorism are to be tackled. Change should be brought through the ballot box, not the intelligence agencies, he said.
Sharif also demanded that security and intelligence agencies disclose details of their budgets and expenditure to a parliamentary committee since they consume taxpayer’s money.
He chided the PPP leadership for pouring cold water over this condition that was part of the Charter of Democracy he had signed with late Benazir Bhutto in 2006.
On the formation of the independent commission, Sharif said his party had initially demanded a judicial commission but then changed its stance.
Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani would nominate names of members of the independent commission, he added.
Sharif claimed the government’s initial draft resolution was weak and silent on the issue of accountability and drone attacks, adding that his party worked to add the clauses on independent commission and review of the terms of engagement with US in the face of continued drone strikes.
Meeting with Munter
Sharif said he conveyed the concerns of Pakistanis in his meeting with US Ambassador Cameron Munter. Despite paying a heavy price in the war on terror, including loss of 35,000 civilians and security personnel, the world still doubts Pakistan’s intentions, he said, adding that he conveyed his party’s concerns over unemployment and poverty in the country to the US ambassador.
Relations between US and Pakistan will not be a one-way street from now on, he said.
Meanwhile, sources in the PML-N told The Express Tribune that Sharif, along with senior party members including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Khawaja Asif met with Munter and assured him that PML-N enjoys sufficient popularity in the country to help change the popular perception of US in the country.
Sharif told Munter that US should rely on political forces in the country instead of the military establishment, sources said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2011.