Lawmakers sign in strict guidelines for US alliance

Senator Mian Raza Rabbani

ISLAMABAD: The parliament Thursday unanimously approved recommendations of its committee on national security on new rules of engagement with the US, and the prime minister gave candid assurance his government would implement it in letter and spirit.

Senator Raza Rabbani presented in the joint sitting of the parliament the revised 14-point recommendations, firmed up by Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), calling for immediate cessation of drone attacks inside the territorial borders of Pakistan. The recommendations call for future relations with the US to be based on mutual interest, an immediate end to drone attacks along with not allowing the country or its airspace to be used for the transportation of weapons into Afghanistan. The committee recommended that Pakistan should seek an unconditional apology from the US over the Nato attack and action be taken against those responsible.

No overt or covert operations in Pakistan would be allowed nor will foreign countries be allowed to establish bases in the country, the draft said. The PCNS also recommended that no private security companies or operatives be allowed in Pakistan. The committee called for an end to verbal agreements with other countries and the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets not be compromised. However, it did not give a timeline for the implementation of these recommendations. Speaking on the floor of the house, Prime Minister Gilani assured the parliament that the revised consensus recommendations of the committee on terms of engagement with the United States would be fully implemented. “We are making history today. And (demonstrating) that we have the strength, the resolve and the ability to take critical decisions in the interest of the nation”, he said.

“For the first time in Pakistan’s history, we have brought real and substantive oversight and democratic accountability to our foreign and security policy,” he said, adding that parliament has proved time and again that when it comes to matters of national interest, we can and do come together.He informed the parliament that he learnt about Salala tragedy while he was in Multan and he immediately, mobilised the government and called a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) under his command. The DCC, he said, immediately told the US to vacate Shamsi base and under the guidance of the parliamentary resolution of May 14, suspended the US/Nato/Isaf lines of communication within Pakistan.

He said the DCC had also ordered a complete review of the terms of engagement with the US, Nato, and Isaf.The cabinet, he said, decided that Pakistan should not attend the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan to demonstrate its clear resolve that any cooperation extended by Pakistan is premised on safeguarding its national interests and upholding national dignity and honour. “We took these important decisions because we wanted to convey to the international community that while Pakistan is a key partner to the rest of the world, our partnership cannot be at the cost of our territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

“Gilani said Pakistan is committed to work with the international community for the achievement of common objectives within parameters of the UN Charter and that the country wants to proactively engage its international partners in an environment which creates a win-win situation for all. The prime minister said the support from across the political divide has strengthened the government’s position to take a bold stance that was not a usual thing.After Salala incident, he said, the world had been curiously observing Pakistan’s parliament that had been devising new terms of engagements with the United States and guidelines for general foreign policy of the country. He said in his meeting with Obama, he told the US president that US should respect the sovereignty, dignity and honour of Pakistan. “We are a responsible nation.

We know our obligations as well as importance of the United States.”The PM said at that time President Bush could not understand this philosophy and importance of dialogue. “I had stated four years back to give peace a chance and today everybody believes in it. When we were talking of dialogue, they were not agreeing with us. But, today they also believe in reconciliation and an Afghan-owned reconciliation,” Gilani remarked.He said the vacuum created after withdrawal of former Soviet Union was filled by extremist elements and reminded the world nations that Pakistan has lost 30,000 civilians and 5,000 troops in war against terrorism that also disabled its 5,000 troops.The prime minister said a united Pakistani nation guarantees stability of the country.

Gilani said he had also told the international community that the government could not take a decision without the nod of the parliament.Sharing his views on revised recommendation approved by the parliament, leader of the opposition in the national assembly Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan said that all the recommendations related to Nato supplies were excluded on the demands of the opposition.Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz, he said, was interested in including the issue of Dr Afia Siddiqui in the recommendations draft. However, incumbent government said that it is its responsibility to run administrative matters. Nisar said that there was need to take special measures for release of Dr Afia.Disagreeing with the Senator Raza Rabani he said that parliament has already debated two resolutions and it was not the first time the parliament discussed foreign policy contours.

“This document of the recommendations would be only meaningful when it would go for its implementation – unlike the previous resolutions, which were not implemented,” he added.“It is half-done job and the move could be called historical when this resolution would be implemented in letter and spirit. Prime Minister’s verbal commitment is not enough, these recommendations should be implemented fully given that not even a single clause of previous resolutions was implemented,” he said.After thorough discussion on the recommendations, he said, government has withdrawn some parts of clause-6 of the previous draft. Likewise, in clause-7 of previous draft reading ‘no covert operation inside Pakistan shall be tolerated’, word tolerated has been replaced with permitted.

Having reservation on it the clause-10 reading ‘fifty percent of Us/Nato/Isaf containers may be handled through Pakistan Railways (PR)’ and clause-15 of previous resolution have been withdrawn.Nisar said that every political party in the house want good relation with US but there should not be imbalance in the relation of two countries. He then asked as to what would be the strategy if drone attacks are reinitiated any time in future.JUI-F chief Fazalur Rahman said that previous resolutions were not implemented in letter and spirit but now this one should not be treated in the same way. He said that foreign agencies should not operate in our country. “If in future government would adopt any step in this regard it would be tantamount to sabotaging parliament.

”Earlier, while presenting the revised recommendations, Senator Raza Rabbani said that all the revised recommendations had been drafted unanimously. He thanked all political parties for making efforts for the preparation of the new draft.Reading out the ‘revised report’, PCNS Chairman Rabbani said: “The relationship with US should be based on mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity… The US should also give assurance that such (drone and missile) attacks do not take place in the future.”The following are the revised recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) unanimously adopted by the joint sitting of the Parliament on Thursday on terms of engagement with the US which have been presented in the joint sitting of the Parliament.

Revised recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security have been presented in the joint session of the Parliament providing for that the sovereignty of Pakistan shall not be compromised.The 14-point recommendations‚ presented by Chairman of the Committee Mian Raza Rabbani ‚ says that relationship with the United States should be based on mutual respect for the sovereignty‚ independence and territorial integrity of each other.It says that the US footprint in Pakistan must be reviewed. This would mean an immediate cessation of drone attacks inside Pakistan‚ the cessation of infiltration into Pakistani territory on any pretext‚ including hot pursuit; and Pakistani territory including its air space shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan.

The recommendations say Pakistan’s nuclear programme and assets‚ including its safety and security cannot be compromised. The US-Indo civil nuclear agreement has significantly altered the strategic balance in the region and ,therefore, Pakistan should seek from the US and others a similar treatment. The strategic position of Pakistan vis-à-vis India on the subject of FMCT (Fissile Material Cut off Treaty) must not be compromised and this principle be kept in view in negotiations on this matter, recommendation says.As per the revised recommendations Pakistan should seek an unconditional apology from the US for the unprovoked Salala incident.

Those held responsible for the Mohmand Agency attack should be brought to justice. Pakistan should be given assurances that such attacks or any other acts impinging on the country’s sovereignty will not recur. Ministry of Defence and PAF should formulate new flying rules for areas contiguous to the border.It further says no verbal agreement regarding national security shall be entered into by the Government or any department or organisation with any foreign Government or authority. The recommendations say declare that no overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be permitted. These also lay down a procedure for negotiating or re-negotiating agreements or MoUs pertaining to or dealing with matters of national security.

No private security contractors or intelligence operatives shall be allowed and Pakistan’s territory will not be provided for the establishment of any foreign bases, it added.As per the recommendations the international community to recognise Pakistan’s colossal human and economic losses in the war on terror. In the minimum‚ greater market access of Pakistan’s exports to the US‚ NATO countries and global markets should be actively pursued.There is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and efforts must be undertaken to promote a genuine national reconciliation in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. The recommendations declare that Pakistani territory shall not be used for any kind of attacks on other countries. – Nation