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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora