By Nadeem Malik
The United States has not paid a penny out of the coalition support fund (CSF) since June 2010, almost 40 percent war bills submitted by Islamabad before that were rejected considering inflated, the amounts pledged under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Law never materialized and so called strategic dialogue process led us to nowhere.
With Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) deliberations and recommendations finalized, some key issues need to be discussed threadbare for few days in the Joint Sitting of the Parliament, instead of acting as a Rubber Stamp to put a seal of approval on whatever has been tabled in the House. The reality so far is that this parliament approves everything which has the blessings of President Asif Zardari, PML (N) Chief Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. The Parliament itself does not bother to use its wisdom on issues which relates to the national security of the motherland.
As a basic rule of thumb, there should be no unnecessary dragging of dispute with the United States, which so far remains our single largest trading partner and a key donor, with powers to hold massive votes on the boards of the Bretons Woods Institutions. It also remains the major arms supplier of our armed forces and we get our beloved F-16s from them. So rationale should prevail.
However, there needs to be no leniency on free-for-all CIA operations in Pakistan. There should be no place for private contractors of the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the State Department. Americans should never be allowed to recruit locals for espionage in tribal areas or any other part of Pakistan (They are freely doing it since 9/11). There should be no scope of US Special Operation Forces in Tarbella Ghazi or no Trainers on our bases and there should be no imbedded soldiers on our land.
NATO supplies should be resumed provided that are fully monitored, a log is maintained at entry and exit points and a transit fee is charged, plus a road user tax. The US maybe asked to develop automated border points along the Afghan border for entry/exit of such goods; with guarantee that they will not find their way back into Pakistani market (Many such goods are being sold in Bara Markets).
Pakistan should also facilitate peace talks with the Taliban, provided all Afghan factions, like Mullah Omar, Haqqanis, Hikmatyar and other Pashtuns are fully represented. The US should guarantee that Indian consulates in Afghanistan close to Pak-Afghan border would wound up hostile activities in the Pakistani tribal belt and Balochistan. The US also need to pledge that special terrorist camps in areas like Kunnar, Nuristan and Khost where anti-Pakistan Taliban factions are being provided logistical support for regrouping, training and funding seize to exist.
Pakistan should not be used as a launching pad to attack any neighboring country, including Afghanistan and mainly Iran. Any hostile activity by groups close to the American CIA/MI6 or any other hostile agency in Balochistan must come to an end immediately.
Last, but not the least, if US wants us to be treated as equal partners in the region, the US Administration has to announce a clear policy of equality in civil nuclear cooperation, at par with India. Washington has to withdraw the threat of sanctions on Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project, as half of Pakistan faces blackouts every day or provide us guaranteed supplies at competitive rates for next 25 years in the shape of LNGs, TAPI Gas Pipeline and investments in our hydel generation capacity.
Pakistan, as a matter of principle, needs to address the issue of terrorism as a whole. Pakistani soil should not be allowed as a playground to train Jihadis for Afghanistan and should never be allowed to be exploited by any armed-radical groups for extortions, ransom and kidnappings. The future of our people is peace and security not in gang wars and suicide training camps.
FOLLOWING ARE THE RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE PCNS
The session on Tuesday, being attended by both the upper and lower houses and chaired by the recently appointed Senate Chairman Nayyar Bokhari, could help determine whether the country's reopens US and Nato supply lines to Afghanistan.
The parliament was also briefed on the details of Pakistan's sensitive defence pacts in an in-camera session.
The parliamentary commission has also demanded an end to American drone strikes inside the country and is seeking an unconditional apology for the Nato attack that killed 24 soldiers in Pakistan.
Raza Rabbani, chairman of a parliamentary committee on national security, outlined its recommendations in that those responsible for the attack should be brought to justice and the recommendations also said that any use of Pakistani bases or airspace by foreign forces would require parliament's approval.
"The US must review its footprints in Pakistan," he said. "This means the cessation of drone strikes inside Pakistan."
The Ministry of Defense and US/Nato/Isaf were also told to draft new flying routes for areas close to the border.
The panel recommended that "Pakistan should seek an unconditional apology from the US for the unprovoked incident" and said "taxes and other charges must be levied on all goods importing in or transiting through Pakistan".
Rabbani said that if and when supplies to foreign forces in Afghanistan are resumed, the shipments must be taxed. He insisted that parliament should approve any future use of Pakistani bases or air space by foreign forces.
The commission said that the re-opening of the US/Nato supply route must be based on a thorough revision of the terms of conditions of the agreement, which shall be subject to strict monitoring within Pakistan on anti-entry, transit and exit points.
It was also suggested that no verbal agreement regarding national security shall be entered into by the government or any other ministry or department.
The commission said that no overt or covert operation inside Pakistan shall be tolerated. It also suggested that there should be prior permission and transparency on the number and presence of foreign intelligence operatives in Pakistan.
The commission recommended to the government that Pakistan should actively pursue the gas pipeline project with Iran.
It was also recommended that 50 per cent of US/Nato/Isaf containers may be handled through Pakistan Railways.
The session was adjourned until Monday on Opposition Leader Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan's request to give lawmakers time to study the recommendations.
Nisar criticised the government for keeping the report "secret" and failing to give party leaders time to discuss it before tabling it in parliament.
The parliament, which will now meet on Monday, will debate for several days and then vote on whether to accept the report.
Gen. James Mattis, commander of US Central Command, said earlier this month he expected to visit Pakistan in mid-to-late March to talk with leaders about reopening the supply routes. His would be the first trip by a US military official since the airstrikes, and will be taken as a high-level sign that Pakistan's army leadership wants to re-engage.
Nato attack: Parliamentary committee says Pakistan should demand apology
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) has recommended that Pakistan should demand an unconditional apology from the United States for the Nato attack on Salala check post which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26, 2011.
PCNS Chairman Senator Raza Rabbani, reading the recommendations during a joint session of Parliament on Tuesday, stated that the attack was a "breach of international law and constitutes blatant violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity". The statement added that the Pakistani government should not only seek an apology but those behind the attack must also be brought to justice.
"Pakistan should be given assurances that such attack or any other attack impinging on Pakistan's sovereignty will not reoccur and the Nato, ISAF, US will take effective measures to avoid any such measures."
The committee also said that it wants the US to put a stop to drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas.
It also recommends that there should be transparency on the number of foreign intelligence operators in Pakistan and prior permission be awarded and says no covert operations will be tolerated inside the country.
The United States must review its footsteps in Pakistan which means the secession of US drone strikes inside the territorial borders of Pakistan, (ii) no hot pursuit of boots on Pakistani territory, (iii) the activity of foreign private security contractors must be transparent and subject to Pakistani law. It needs to realise that drones are counter-productive, cause loss of valuable lives and property, radicalises the local population, create support for terrorists and fuel anti-US sentiments.The statement also said that at least 50% of Nato containers passing through Pakistan may be handled through Pakistan Railways and added: "Any consideration of the reopening of Nato, ISAF, US containers must be contingent on a thorough revision of terms and conditions of the agreement including regulation and control on movement of goods."
The statement said: "Taxes and other charges must be levied on all goods imported in or transmitting through Pakistan for the use of infrastructure and to compensate for its deterioration."
The bicameral parliamentary committee was constituted to review terms of engagement with the US before going for normalisation of bilateral ties.
The revised terms of engagements also stated that all agreements including military cooperation and logistics will be circulated to the foreign ministry and concerned authorities. "All agreements will be vetted by the Ministry of Law and Justice and parliamentary affair."
Relationships with the USA should be based on mutual respect for sovereignty, for independence and territorial integrity for each other.The report emphasises that Pakistan's nuclear program and assets including its safety and security cannot be compromised. "The US-Indo civil nuclear agreement has significantly altered the strategic balance in the region, therefore, Pakistan should seek from the US and others a similar treatment."
It said that the strategic position of Pakistan regarding India on the subject of FMCT must not be compromised and this principle be kept in view in negotiations on this matter.
The report also reaffirms Pakistan's commitment to the elimination of terrorism and combating extremism in pursuance of its national interest.