News

Analysis: Pakistan's Parliament Takes Stand on US Ties

Rally against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, Peshawar, Pakistan, April 2011 (file photo).
Rally against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, Peshawar, Pakistan, April 2011 (file photo).
Gary Thomas

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been in a downward spiral, reaching a low point after U.S. warplanes mistakenly attacked a border outpost in November, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Now Islamabad is calling for specific conditions on security cooperation from U.S. agencies.

The new demands, unanimously approved in a nonbinding parliamentary resolution last week, include an end to drone strikes in Pakistan, a bar on unilateral U.S. military operations -- such as the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden -- a ban on U.S. intelligence operations, and indefinite suspension of visas to U.S. intelligence operatives and security contractors.

Parliament is also demanding an unconditional apology from Washington for the November airstrike that mistakenly killed Pakistani troops on the Afghan border.

Uncommon Parliamentary Act
What makes the call for new conditions unusual is that it comes not from Pakistan's federal government, but from parliament.

Parliamentary Demands:

  • Immediate end to U.S. drone strikes
  • Cessation of all overt, covert U.S. incursions
  • Unconditional apology for NATO airstrike that killed 24
  • Justice for those responsible
  • U.S. restriction from territorial, airspace transport of weapons to Afghanistan
  • Restriction of all private security companies, operatives in Pakistan

"There is not any precedent in Pakistan for parliamentary determination of this kind of a foreign policy issue," says Teresita Schaffer, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia. "And the reason that the parliament was asked to take this action was basically that both the government and, perhaps more importantly, the army, wanted cover. Whatever they decided, they wanted to have as much political cover as they wanted. And I think that neither one was averse to parliament taking a pretty hard line."

US-NATO Supply Routes, Drone Strikes
After November's border incident, Pakistan barred re-supply of U.S.-NATO troops in Afghanistan via Pakistani land routes. These supply lines, which carry only non-lethal materials, could be reopened if Washington and Islamabad reach agreement on the new demands.

But some analysts say the U.S. does not necessarily need Pakistan's supply routes.

Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at Georgetown University, says U.S. and NATO forces have learned to live without the land routes since Pakistan shut them down.

"We’re paying a higher price because we’re moving things through the air," says Fair. "But even though we’re moving them through the air at a higher price, we’re not having to worry about blockages, we’re not having to worry about pilferage. We’re paying more, but we’re actually getting what we’re paying for. So the big issue for the United States will be the drones."

Pakistan has repeatedly called for an end to U.S. drone strikes on suspected Taliban sanctuaries within its borders, but the strikes continue, causing some analysts to question whether the government of President Asif Ali Zardari is secretly acquiescing in the attacks.

Secret Agreements Eyed
Intelligence operations are by nature secret, often quietly allowed through quiet agreements. Schaffer says President Zardari and his Pakistan Peoples’ Party may have gotten some political traction by pushing parliament to make such stiff demands, but that the government could be seriously damaged if any secret agreements between the U.S. and Pakistan come to light.

"You’ll notice that not only did the parliament say 'hell no drones,' but also specified in their resolution that there can be no secret or verbal agreements touching U.S.-Pakistan relations, and that any previous ones hereby stand canceled," says Schaffer. "Clearly what that means is that the kind of handshake agreements that we’ve often operated on in the past become very vulnerable to sudden scandal and exposure."

But according to Fair, the military, not parliament or even civilian government, will decide how U.S.-Pakistan security relations will be shaped.

"I think that, on the main, it’s a good thing that the parliament’s being involved in these issues," says Fair. "And a corollary is that the Pakistani population is also being involved in national security issues -- I don’t think that they've ever really been, to this extent, galvanized on political issues of national security. But in the end it’s going to be the army that decides how much they’re going to enforce what the parliament says."

U.S. officials say they look forward to discussing the parliamentary demands with the Pakistan government to build a very constructive relationship based on mutual understanding.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: RUSS
April 17, 2012 5:40 PM
This war shouldn't have been 10 years plus long,But you have a Karszai Government, and the Pakistani Government, Making demands that is tying the hands of our troops! WE can not win and finish the War this way! Like me and Many,Many more Americans want our troops to come home now! Enough with the Bull Sh-t, Let them finish it up so we can get the hell out of there!! Or We should Stop the BILLIONS in AID and watch you FALL!!!

by: Jack
April 17, 2012 4:52 AM
how does communit with others

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs