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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs