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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora