Monday, March 26, 2012
Pakistan's President Zardari calls for end to U.S. drone strikes
The leader of the Pakistan opposition pointed out that Pakistan has had two motions in parliament that the attacks cease. Now the parliamentary review group has demanded the attacks cease as a condition for renewing normal relations with the U.S. The first two motions the opposition leader noted have never been acted upon so it is simply embarassing to pass another one.
However, Zardari never seems to be fazed by inconsistency between his rhetoric and reality. The reality is that the U.S. has said it will not cease the attacks. In fact it may not even compromise by letting the Pakistanis have foreknowledge of when attacks are happening or a say in when and where they should happen. However, Zardari wiill probably go on saying one thing in public and tacitly agreeing with the U.S. in private.
Zardari said that the parliamentary review process shows that democracy has taken root in Pakistan. But it may be a root without fruit. Zardari also said that negotiations with the U.S. should work within the parameters set by parliament and not bypass it. However the drone issue will become a problem if Zardari is serious about this. But there are other demands as well.
A spokesperson for the president said that Zardari demanded greater transparency in the Pakistan U.S. relationship. Really? Does he want the public to know that there will probably be tacit agreements on issues such as drone attacks?
During talks with U.S. officials Zardari also suggested that there might be preferential tariffs for Pakistani goods entering the U.S. Zardari also expressed concern about the Afghan drug trade. He said that large amounts of drugs were entering Pakistan from Afghanistan.
Zardari said that money from the trade financed the Afghan insurgency and that it was important for the U.S. and NATO to intercept the drugs.
Zardari also told the U.S. officials that drone attacks were violations of Pakistan's sovereignty, and were counterproductive. He claimed that civilian casualties fueled militancy and should stop. This sort of rhetoric is nothing new but that Zardari is saying this within the context of renewing normal relations with the U.S. may mean that he is serious this time. Most likely he is serious in the sense that he will use the demand to get concessions from the U.S. on other issues. Zardari also defended Pakistan's decision to continue with a natural gas pipeline project from Iran. For more see this article