ISLAMABAD – Any chances of Pakistan’s participation in the Bonn Conference at any level ended on Friday as the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, endorsing the decisions of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) and the federal cabinet, rejected the Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) and the Awami National Party (ANP)’s arguments in favour of Islamabad’s participation in the international moot on Afghanistan’s future, with Committee Chairman Raza Rabbani observing that under the rules of business the parliamentary body could not overrule the decision of the federal cabinet.
The committee members unanimously endorsed all decisions of the DCC and the federal cabinet to cut NATO supplies and get the Shamsi airbase cleared of United States control within 15 days.A source told Pakistan Today that the PPP-S and ANP leaders suggested reversing the cabinet’s decision to boycott the Bonn Conference, which, they argued, would not only isolate the country diplomatically but would also send a very negative signal to the Pakhtuns living in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Since the Pakhtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan are bearing the brunt of the Afghan war, they might see Pakistan’s boycott as a bid to dent the peace process. As the APC (All-Parties Conference) has already passed a resolution to give peace a chance, it is mandatory for Islamabad not to leave any international forum unattended and it would be wise to attend the Bonn Conference to strongly protest against the NATO attack,” a source quoted Aftab Sherpao as saying in the committee meeting.The source said that ANP representative Senator Afrasiab Khattak supported Sherpao’s stance and called for a review of the decision to boycott the conference, arguing that the enemies of the country would further exploit this situation in their interest. However, the source said, Rabbani told the participants that the rules of business did not allow the parliamentary body to overrule the cabinet’s decision. The PPP-S and ANP leaders did not press to reverse the cabinet decision thereafter. The source said when the prime minister was asked whether the US administration was determined to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, he told the participants that a high-powered delegation had assured him that the US did not want to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear programme as it was in safe hands.
DGMO: The source said Prof Khurshid Ahmed and some other members also strongly criticised the armed forces, asking the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad why the NATO attack was not properly responded to despite the military leadership having assured the joint sitting of parliament after the May 2 incident that no lapses would be made in future.“The communication lines had broken down and the reinforcements sent from another post also came under attack. And It is for this reason that all officers have now been directed not to wait for command orders to counter any aggression,” the source quoted the DGMO as saying. Senator Ishaq Dar and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman held the government responsible for the NATO attack, saying had the government implemented previous resolutions of parliament this situation could have been avoided. When the committee members asked the prime minister how long the NATO supplies would remain suspended, the prime minister candidly responded that the government wanted a policy shift and the committee members should suggest “red lines” which would later be taken to the joint sitting of parliament and then would become a policy guideline for the government.
MEMO CONTROVERSY: Another source said the committee would again meet on Thursday to review the memo controversy. He said that it was decided that the government should also get all its airbases vacated from US/NATO forces. He said there was a difference of opinion on whether there was a need to summon a joint session of parliament on the NATO strikes, but later it was decided that the meeting would be held within the next fortnight. Later, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters that the committee took up a single-point agenda and no other issue, including the memo case, was taken up. She said the DGMO would brief the cabinet members on the prevailing security environment at a special sitting to be convened after the 10th of Muharram.Asked whether NATO supplies would remain suspended on a permanent basis, the minister said endorsement of the cabinet decisions meant that the supplies would remain suspended on a “permanent basis”.
Responding to a question about the army’s strategy to thwart any attack on Pakistani soil in future, she said it had been decided to respond to any aggression and not to adopt a “wait and see” policy. The government, she said, would support the army’s decisions on strategic and operational levels to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. – pakistantoday