Friday, March 23, 2012

Week in Review | Pakistan

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) submitted their eagerly awaited report on Tuesday. The recommendations are to serve as the basis/framework for a formal review of relations with the United States.

The Parliamentary debate is scheduled to begin on Monday with a vote expected soon after on whether or not to accept the report.

The key recommendations are far reaching. An unconditional apology from the US over the cross border attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, an end to drone strikes, no kill/capture campaigns by US forces in Pakistan, strong oversight of foreign security contractors and a tax on US/NATO war supplies going to Afghanistan.

If these demands are satisfied the land border-crossing for war supplies into Afghanistan would be re-opened.

The U.S. is currently paying more than “$500 million a year in transit fees to send military materiel through Central Asian states to Afghanistan.”

In the lead-up to the review, Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington said “We want this relationship to be transparent and predictable…”

The NYT’s covered some of the initial reactions in Pakistan and notes that US sources have already said they will be willing to pay a tax of war supplies but were unwilling to end the CIA drone campaign.
“The recommendations are excellent,” said Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, a senior Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker, outside Parliament. “Sovereignty and territorial integrity are the cornerstone of our foreign policy.”

Kamil Ali Agha, a senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Q party, predicted a “very detailed and very lively” debate next week. “This is a very, very important issue for each and every Pakistani,” he said.

A resumption of full diplomatic relations with the Obama administration now looks unlikely before the middle of next month. American officials say they are ready to negotiate tariffs on NATO transit goods but will not consider an end to the C.I.A. drone campaign, which is viewed as a vital weapon against Al Qaeda and Taliban extremists operating from Pakistani soil.

Additional Resource:

For a good overview of the challenges faced in Pakistan listen to Terry Gross’ interview with Ahmed Rashid. He gives an eloquent defense of the need to engage with the Taliban as part of a political solution to the war. Also see this review of his new book.

Today, by the way is Pakistan day. A national holiday that celebrates the overthrow of colonial rule and the emergence of Pakistan as the world’s first Islamic republic in 1956.

Tags: Drone Strikes, Pakistan

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