Joint session on foreign policy heading towards a stalemate

Published: March 29, 2012
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Nusrat Javeed

Nusrat Javeed

During past two sessions of a joint parliamentary sitting, some diplomats and local personnel of various embassies were found conspicuously present in the VIP Gallery.

But they didn’t seem very excited in watching the business in the house. Only on Tuesday a lady diplomat was seen attentively listening to Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s speech delivered on a point of order. His speech was certainly full of sound and fury and conveyed a few alarmist messages as well.

Not one person from the diplomatic community cared to come to Parliament on Wednesday although they should not regret missing it.

Ishaq Dar is a weighty member of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, not the least for being significantly influential within Nawaz Sharif’s core of advisors.

He had diligently participated in PCNS deliberations and eventually put his signatures on its final report. From his party, however, we also have Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Being the opposition leader in the National Assembly he always behaves as an unforgiving hawk and he has certainly lived up to his reputation since March 20 when Raza Rabbani presented the PCNS package of proposals to the joint session.

After extracting a week’s hiatus to ‘dispassionately review’ the said package, he took the floor on Tuesday but not to initiate general discussion but to extract, on a point of order, cast iron assurances from the government that after restoration of the Nato supplies to Afghanistan via Pakistani routes no drones would violate our sovereign territories.

Since the government is yet not able to furnish such commitment, the PML-N members are not participating in speechmaking on the PCNS report.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman did come to the house but legislators from his party are not delivering any speeches to support Nisar’s position. The space they had abandoned was cunningly taken over by a die-hard Maulana from Balochistan, Ismatullah.

He was elected to the National Assembly on a JUI-F ticket. After coming to Parliament, however, he soon started to fly solo. These days he heads a faction of his own that calls itself ‘JUI-F Ideological’. It hates the pragmatic sides of Fazlur Rehman.

Maulana Ismatullah was smart in exploiting the opportunity falling into his lap to the maximum. Instead of focusing upon the question to restore or not to restore the supplies to Afghanistan, he spoke like his ilk do before leading the Friday prayers. Vastly quoting from the Holy Book and other religious sources, he spoke for long to make his fellow legislators realise that none other than God almighty clearly asks good Muslims to never trust Jews and Christians. They can never be friends of Ummah and thus why to help the foes of Islam by restoring supplies to their troops occupying Afghanistan these days.

Interestingly, speakers from the ruling party and its allies were also not sounding too willing to approve the restoration of lovey-dovey relations with the US. They all kept insisting that General Musharraf sold his country cheap, when the Bush administration was desperate to establish its control over Afghanistan. Duly elected representatives of an honourable nation, the members of our very sovereign Parliament, must not repeat the ‘treacherous acts’ committed by that dictator in military uniform. Most of them also had a long wish-list that they wanted the US to meet before using our territory for supplies to its troops.

Little wonder, after a very long gap, two senior American generals have landed at the Chaklala airbase to engage General Kayani in a lengthy round of serious discussions. The PML-N and its allies can return to the house to participate in general discussion on the PCNS proposals, once some final deal is struck between the US and Pak generals.

So far, though, it is but obvious that without loudly opposing the PCNS proposals or forcefully inserting some amendments to it, the PML-N will let our sovereign Parliament adopt the same without much ado.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Mar 29, 2012 - 10:38AM

    If no one is seriously willing to debate on the issue and come out with viable solution then only General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani can do the needful by coming out public and explain the nation on pros and cons of relationship with US or NATO. Total weight must not be thrown on the parliament which will not come out with consensus. Parliamentarians have to go back to their voters and presently it is not in the favor of siting government to go solo. People out there from different political/religious parties are only point scoring with senseless speeches and demands. The day our General will speak all will fade-out. Master keys are now with those who call the shots.

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  • Thoughtful
    Mar 29, 2012 - 12:36PM

    So much for the parliamentary review. Forign policy by consensus is impossible. Foreign policy by seceding decision making to the military is dangerous but seems the norm here.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 29, 2012 - 9:07PM

    After spending all that time bad mouthing American’s do you really think that your Parliament is capable of coming up with a policy that the American’s wouldn’t find offensive let alone agree to? The Parliament and average Pakistani think the supply line is sufficient leverage to make the American’s grovel — but that ignores the obvious – NATO operations haven’t changed as a result of anything Pakistan has done.
    .
    America has been working with Pakistan for a long time – they fully understood that pushing this decision to the Parliament was just a weak leadership not having the guts to say that the supply line has to stay closed. Pakistan will have to live with the long term consequences of that decision.

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  • Ammad Malik
    Mar 31, 2012 - 11:18AM

    Everyone seems to be missing the point. Ishaq Dar represents PMLN in PCNS, he has signed off on the proposal. If it is not acceptable to PMLN why do that? Or it is and PMLN just wants to make some noise for political mileage before they approve of it? Dirty politics…. you should know where to put the blame.

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