Positive signals from US-Pak relations panel

Published: January 4, 2012
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The development indicates Islamabad’s willingness to sort out its differences with Washington sooner than later. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The development indicates Islamabad’s willingness to sort out its differences with Washington sooner than later. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The government has asked the panel tasked with rewriting the terms of engagement with the United States to speed up its work, amid whispers that strong bilateral cooperation on the ground will resume shortly. The development indicates Islamabad’s willingness to sort out its differences with Washington sooner than later.

The all-party and bicameral parliamentary committee on national security met on Tuesday to finalise its recommendations for reviewing political, economic and military ties with the US in the wake of November 26 Nato airstrikes.

The 17-member committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, has completed two-thirds of its work and is expected to furnish its final proposals by Friday, said a participant who asked not to be named. He added that the committee was now waiting for a briefing from the finance ministry on the likely implications of renegotiating rules of engagements with the US.

Rabbani himself told reporters that the panel had begun work on drafting the new terms of engagement.

The government’s move to push the committee to complete its job at the earliest opportunity is being linked with a reported understanding already reached with the US on contentious issues.

Officials familiar with the development claimed that the government had already conveyed to the US that Nato supplies halted since the November 26 incident would be resumed later this month. In addition, the docking at Karachi port over the weekend of the US vessel ‘Freedom’, carrying goods for troops stationed in Afghanistan, appears to suggest that the two countries are inching closer to resume ‘business as usual’.

The government is expected to announce the resumption of Nato supplies soon after parliament approves new terms of engagement with the US by the middle of this month. However, it is unclear under what agreement Nato supplies will be allowed to pass through the country. There are indications that Pakistan wants to impose additional transit fees on the transport of goods.

Interestingly, while the parliamentary panel is busy redrafting foreign policy with the US, concerned authorities are quietly working to overcome the differences. It is said that the recommendations of the parliamentary committee and the subsequent approval of the joint session of the proposals will only be for public consumption and formality.

“We are hearing all kinds of speculation but we will try our level best to ensure that our recommendations are implemented,” said a committee member. Meanwhile, the military is expected to release its detailed response to the US investigations into the Nato attacks on Friday.

The rejoinder will be an indication of which direction the ties might be heading.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Jan 4, 2012 - 10:12AM

    Total break down of relations with US will not be in the interest of Pakistan. US is the only window to free world and democracy. China is no alternative as it will restrict the growth by scuttling economy of Pakistan and encourage totalitarian forces. May be this is what some quarters desire but dependency on China in the long term will kill religious forces as communist ideology is not religion-centric.

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  • sam
    Jan 4, 2012 - 10:30AM

    Why Pakistanis desparate to normalise relations with NATO quickly? US has not apologised yet.

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  • NA
    Jan 4, 2012 - 10:37AM

    So the Govt./ military bows down to knees once again in front of US. This is due to mismanagement of resources in-house and greater dependency on outside funding. Unless Pakistan manages its own resources efficiently, this will continue to happen…

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  • Mirza
    Jan 4, 2012 - 10:40AM

    Gen Pasha’s trip to Qatar has worked like a charm to put pressure on the govt and the panel. Recommend

  • AaK
    Jan 4, 2012 - 10:47AM

    Expected to be happened very soon, as NATO can’t hold it for too long beside there daily expression of denial of shortage of more needed supplies in Afghanistan. The only thing that matter for PAK is whether the deal this time will be made in the interest of the country or our beloved leaders.

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  • Qasim
    Jan 4, 2012 - 11:18AM

    @VINOD:
    Agree 100% that “Total break down of relations with US will not be in the interest of Pakistan”. However Pakistan would be within its rights to impose tariffs, transit fees and other duties as is the international norms. Cooperation yes, capitulation NO.

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  • MarkH
    Jan 4, 2012 - 12:07PM

    @AaK:
    I can promise you there has been no shortage of necessities. The Pakistan route is cheaper but they’re not going to simply let the soldiers “go without.” They’ll pay the extra for as long as required. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be looking towards the cheaper options at the same time.
    Pakistan can get away with leaving their people neglected and out in the cold. The US can’t.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Jan 4, 2012 - 12:50PM

    Make hay while the Sun shines. Pak should extract the maximum from the Americans before they leave Afghanistan.

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  • Bilal
    Jan 4, 2012 - 1:04PM

    sensible approach is needed. good decision by Pakistan

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  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Jan 4, 2012 - 2:05PM

    Then why NATO containers are heading towards Karachi .
    Pakistan should act as allied partner in thr war against terrorism .

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  • Cautious
    Jan 4, 2012 - 7:42PM

    As your economy collapses and your energy shortages mount you will look back and wonder what was running through your minds when you chose to defend the Taliban and ruin your relationship with the one country that might have saved you. It reminds me of a cult mentality which has selected suicide — outsiders can never fathom the why but somehow it must have made sense to the cult members.

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  • JSM
    Jan 4, 2012 - 7:58PM

    Will the Americans pay the taxes etc contemplated by Pakistan?

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  • Syed
    Jan 5, 2012 - 2:14AM

    Give them the bill of $40+Billion incurred to day and tell them to pay in advance!!!
    Musharraf sold us for cheap.

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  • Jan 6, 2012 - 4:35AM

    Normalizing our relationship with Pakistan has been a priority for us ever since the tragic incident of Salala. It is even more important to open up communications so such incidents are never repeated. Pakistan and the United States have achieved much together in their efforts in defeating terrorism. We need to build on those successes and move forward to bring peace to the region. Both people of Afghanistan and Pakistan deserve peace. They have paid heavily at the hands of the terrorists who have been the primary source of destruction in both countries. A better working relationship between the US and Pakistan ensures that these terrorists don’t have the freedom to continue their killings, thereby allowing peace to prevail.

    Maj David Nevers
    DET-United States Central Command
    http://www.centcom.mil/ur

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