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Pakistan par approves resolution on US ties

Islamabad: Pakistan`s parliament on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution for resetting the country`s troubled relations with the US, calling for an "immediate cessation" of American drone strikes and an apology for the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO air strike.

A joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate adopted a resolution containing 14 recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PNCS) for ties with the US and overall foreign policy.

Observers said the move is expected to pave the way for reopening NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that were closed after last year`s NATO air strike.

Though most of the recommendations were related to Pakistan`s ties with the US, NATO and ISAF, some focussed on the relationship with India and regional issues.

The resolution noted that the US-India civil nuclear agreement had "significantly altered the strategic balance in the region" and called for Pakistan to seek from the US and other countries a similar facility.

The resolution further said Pakistan`s strategic position vis-a-vis India on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty "must not be compromised and this principle be kept in view in negotiations".

It further said the dialogue process with India "should be continued in a purposeful and result-oriented manner on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest" and efforts should be made to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani assured parliament that his government will ensure the implementation of the resolution on new rules of engagement with the US.

"Today`s resolution will enrich your respect and dignity. I assure you that we will get these enforced in letter and spirit," Gilani said. He contended that "real and substantive oversight and democratic accountability" had been introduced to the foreign and security policy for the first time.

The government had ordered a parliamentary review of relations with the US after the NATO air strike. Pakistan also closed all NATO supply routes and forced American personnel to vacate Shamsi airbase, considered a hub for CIA-operated drones.

Pakistan-US relations stalled while the review was underway. Explaining the reasons behind the review, Gilani said: "Our partnership cannot be at the cost of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan."

The country is committed to work with the world community to achieve common objectives, he added. The resolution reaffirmed Pakistan`s commitment to the elimination of terrorism but demanded a review of what it described as the "US footprint" in the country.

It demanded the "immediate cessation of drone attacks" inside Pakistani territory and "cessation of infiltration into Pakistani territory on any pretext, including hot pursuit".

Pakistani territory and airspace would not be used for transporting arms and ammunition to Afghanistan, the resolution said. This left the way clear for resumption of non-lethal supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, experts said.

The resolution further said there would no compromise on Pakistan`s nuclear programme and assets. The resolution demanded an unconditional apology from the US for the NATO air strike and said those responsible for the incident should be brought to justice.

Pakistan should be given assurances that such attacks or any other acts impinging on Pakistan`s sovereignty would not recur, the resolution said. The Defence Ministry and air force should formulate new flying rules for areas contiguous to the border with Afghanistan, it said.

No private security contractors and intelligence operatives will be allowed into Pakistan and the country`s territory will not be provided for establishing any foreign bases, it added.

Referring to Afghanistan, the resolution said there could be no military solution to the Afghan conflict and "efforts must be undertaken to promote a genuine national reconciliation in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process".

The joint session of the parliament was prorogued after the adoption of the resolution.

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