Resumption of NATO supplies: Parliamentary approval likely to suffer long delay

Published: March 26, 2012
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Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl activists at the “Islam Zindabad Conference” in Peshawar on Sunday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl activists at the “Islam Zindabad Conference” in Peshawar on Sunday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: 

A bitter blend of diplomatic obligations and domestic political considerations appears to be forcing Pakistan to delay a key decision on unplugging Nato supply routes, with the government and opposition wrangling over fresh terms of engagement with the United States.

“I don’t think Parliament can give a final verdict on the report of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) this week … there is going to be a delay, may be a long one,” said a government official on Sunday, as the National Assembly and Senate prepared to resume a joint session to debate fresh parameters for the country’s role in the war on terror.

“Obviously, we can’t ignore the shouting opposition parties and take a unilateral decision especially on resuming Nato supplies … it is going to hurt us politically because it is the election year,” said the official, who belongs to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Parliament is supposed to approve PCNS’ 40-point proposal at the end of a debate that will start from Monday and is scheduled to go on for three days. But the PPP official said that parliamentary approval was unlikely because the government would try to convince the opposition groups to support them.

The government, he added, might agree to some of the opposition’s proposals in an effort of evolve a consensus.

Opposition groups decided in a meeting over the weekend that they would push the government not to resume Nato supplies at any cost.

“We would like the government to go beyond the report of the parliamentary committee … we want a holistic review of the foreign policy especially our so-called alliance with the US in the war on terror,” said PML-N deputy information secretary Khurram Dastgir Khan. He added that the opposition would not support the PCNS recommendations until the basic rules of engagement with the US were determined and put in writing.

He said the opposition would propose that the government determine parameters of the war on terror on the domestic front as well.  “Ten years into fighting, we still don’t know the contours of our campaign inside tribal areas…it is time to debate it as well,” the PML-N official said. “We are in a blind war.”

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman vowed on Sunday that his party would not allow a single Nato container to move into Afghanistan even if the government unblocked the routes.

“Any decision to reopen the Nato supply routes will be a decision of the government, not Parliament,” Fazl told thousands of his supporters at an ‘Islam Zindabad Conference’ organised by the JUI-F in Peshawar.

The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said they would attack lawmakers if they decide to reopen Nato supply routes.

“If Parliament decides to restore Nato supplies, we will attack parliamentarians and their overlords,” TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said on Sunday.

(With reporting by Umer Farooq in Peshawar and Reuters)

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Observant
    Mar 26, 2012 - 10:39AM

    Great Sight- The supreme Parliament to decide country’s fate! Keep On

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  • usman
    Mar 26, 2012 - 10:46AM

    What a mockery! They termed salala chechpost attack as pakistan’s mistake. How can they get away with this cold blooded willful murder of our soldiers with the bonus of reopening of the Nato supplies.

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  • Feroz
    Mar 26, 2012 - 11:02AM

    The Americans it seems need Pakistan at present to ease themselves out of Afghanistan. However they are not viewing the current deliberations with too much enthusiasm. The country will pay a price in the long term because the US has a long memory and will act at an appropriate time. Depending solely on China and Saudi Arabia for policy support is not advisable.

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  • true blue pakistani
    Mar 26, 2012 - 11:26AM

    Open the route now, negotiate the fee later. Let the trucks deliver what already on it since 3 months.

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  • MarkH
    Mar 26, 2012 - 12:24PM

    People aren’t going to wait forever for you.

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  • Mar 26, 2012 - 1:28PM

    Gov. will make a grave mistake if supplies are restored, Why not take referendum, people of Pakistan are against the restoration of NATO supplies,

    ET i would recommend take a poll on this site

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  • MarkH
    Mar 26, 2012 - 1:37PM

    @usman:
    They’re also the only ones who gathered evidence to support being shot at first. Your military wouldn’t have missed the chance to prove NATO to be liars to boost their damaged image. Instead they defaulted on deny everything, do nothing. If NATO was shown to be the liars, that would damage them more than any violent accusation that can be made. You just can’t and you can’t because you won’t and you won’t because it’s embarrassing.

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  • Thoughtful
    Mar 26, 2012 - 2:37PM

    It is an election year in the US too. Our tax dollars going to the hostile pakistan govenment should be seriously questioned. Pakistan is entitled to its soveregnty but not entitled to US taxpayer money unless it delivers.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 26, 2012 - 4:11PM

    Typical Pakistan — the govt and military made a deal with the USA – got aid and military weapons in exchange for a commitment to reopen the NATO supply line – then used the Parliament as a convenient excuse for not honoring their promises. Recommend

  • usman
    Mar 28, 2012 - 10:11AM

    @ MarkH I thought they came inside our territory and even if we fired, we had the right. That said, it is not the first time it had happened. The army did prepare report and contradicted the arguments put forward in the NATO report. Now it is your personal choice to read their ones and didn’t bother to read the one on our side, simply because our Army can never tell the truth.

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