Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday rejected the opposition’s criticism that the government had kept parliament and the general public in the dark regarding its recent rapprochement with the US.
She categorically stated that the government was in no way bypassing parliament’s wishes by pursuing its relationship with the US and by reopening the ground lines of communication.
Her remarks came after opposition members of parliament’s national security panel voiced reservations over the reopening of vital land routes for foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan.
During the in-camera session of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) chaired by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani, the head of his own faction of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman objected to the mechanism under which US said ‘sorry’ for last year’s Nato cross-border raid which killed 24 soldiers. His stance was also endorsed by other opposition members on the committee.
Following months of stalemate, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the ground lines of communication after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered what appeared to be a ‘soft apology’ over the killing of the Pakistani soldiers.
An unconditional apology was one of the prerequisites set by parliament to reset ties with the US. However, opposition parties accused the government of succumbing to US pressure and reopening the supply routes without getting parliament’s demands fulfilled.
Senator Rabbani confirmed that the opposition expressed dissatisfaction over the implementation of parliament’s recommendations on resetting ties with the US and Nato.
He revealed that on Tuesday Foreign Minister Khar briefed the committee about Pakistan’s ties with the US, Nato and Afghanistan.
Later, Khar told reporters that the government was formulating its foreign policy in light of the new terms of engagement approved by parliament in April this year.
“I briefed the committee for over four hours and all members have expressed their views candidly,” Khar said.
She also informed the panel about the outcome of the recently-concluded visit of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to Afghanistan.
Relationship with Afghanistan is heading in the right direction, said the foreign minister adding that a delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council would soon travel to Pakistan for discussions on the peace-making efforts with the Taliban.
She maintained that Pakistan wanted peace and stability in Afghanistan and that was why it was willing to work with all Afghan groups.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee could not finalise its draft recommendations regarding the missing persons’ issue due to the extended briefing on Pak-US ties.
Senator Rabbani said the committee will reconvene on August 6 to consider and approve draft recommendations that seek to address pick-kill-and-dump incidents.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.