News

    Pakistanis Debate New Terms for Relationship with US

    Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (file photo)
    Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (file photo)
    Ayaz Gul

    Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar says that the ongoing parliamentary review of her country’s “complex” ties with the United States may be painstakingly slow, but it will lay a lasting foundation for the future. Her remarks came as the parliament adjourned its joint session for a week to let lawmakers hammer out differences over a set of recommendations to reset Islamabad’s relations with Washington and its Western allies.

    The long-awaited parliamentary debate to review Pakistan’s relationship with the United States began early this week. But the meeting failed to see a substantive discussion on the draft recommendations because the opposition demanded the removal of some controversial provisions.

    Lawmaker Ayaz Amir represents the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, which is headed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

    “Parliament has been almost paralyzed or stalled for over a week. The recommendations have been tabled but a meaningful debate has not even begun. If anything is having an influence it is what they (lawmakers) perceived to be public opinion, and that is creating a problem,” Amir said.

    The parliament adjourned its session on Friday for a week after the ruling coalition headed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) agreed to review the draft recommendations to address the opposition’s concerns.

    Foreign Minister Khar told reporters that her country attaches immense importance to ties with the United States and believes the parliamentary process will give those ties the Pakistani people's stamp of approval.

    “With our international interlocutors and our friends, we have also maintained that dictatorships and quick decisions can offer you may be quick solutions but not lasting solutions, that democracy is more complex and may be more painstaking and may be (a) more even time consuming process. But it gives you results, which are time tested, which are lasting," Khar said.

    She was apparently referring to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who was Pakistan's president when it joined the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan targeting the Taliban and al-Qaida.

    The Pakistani government suspended its anti-terrorism cooperation with the United States to protest last November's killing of 24 of its soldiers in a deadly cross-border air strike by NATO helicopters.  

    Islamabad closed land routes for convoys carrying “non-lethal” supplies to international forces in Afghanistan.  It also expelled Americans from an airbase being used for drone strikes against suspected hideouts inside Pakistan and asked the parliament to revise the terms of engagement with the United States and NATO.

    The draft recommendations presented to parliament call on the Pakistani government to seek an unconditional apology for the November incident, and for an end to the U.S. drone strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan.

    The draft also puts forward conditions for reopening the NATO supply routes. But Islamic parties and hardliners in Pakistan are warning the government against restoring those supply lines.

    Lawmaker Ayaz Amir says that a unanimous parliamentary endorsement of the new terms of engagement with Washington is essential to prevent future problems.

    “The NATO supply lines, they run across the entire country, and there have been attacks, they have been hit, they have been burnt. So if there is a recrudescence of such events, then that is not going to be good for Pakistan because the law and order situation, already not very ideal or good, is going to (get) worse,” Amir said.

    Pakistani militants have attacked NATO convoys in the past, and it is feared that religious parties could encourage future violence.

    President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani held talks this week on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in South Korea. A day later, top American military commanders visited Pakistan for high-level discussions. It is not clear what transpired in these meetings. But observers see the contacts as signs of improving ties.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora