Friday, April 13, 2012
Pakistani parliament unaminously demands end to drone strikes as condition of opening Afghan supply routes
The parliament also set other conditions for restoring relations with the U.S. and opening NATO supply routes through Pakistan to Afghanistan. Another significant condition was an unconditional apology for the air strike in November that killed two dozen Pakistani troops.
Chair of the committee that presented the 14 point recommendations Raza Rabbani said that all U.S. military incursions into Pakistan must cease including drone attacks. He said:“The U.S. footprint in Pakistan must be reviewed. This means, one, an immediate cessation of drone attacks inside the territory and borders of Pakistan," "Two, the cessation of infiltration into Pakistani territory on any pretext including hot pursuit. Three, Pakistani territory, including its airspace, shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan.”
The recommendations go even further and demand an end to covert operations in Pakistan and demands that no private security contractors or intelligence operatives be allowed in the country. No doubt this is a reaction to the killing of an Afghan by a CIA operative.
While Pakistan may get an apology, it is highly unlikely that drone attacks will cease. In fact the U.S. has said they will not. The parliament has previously passed motions demanding drone attacks cease but they carry on anyway. In the past at least the attacks have been tacitly endorsed or allowed by government officials and targets have been set using Pakistani intelligence in all likelihood.
Prime Minister Raza Gilani said:“Madame Speaker, we are making history today. This parliament has proven time and time again that when it comes to matters of national interest we can and do come together,” The government has not delivered on such resolutions in the past and is unlikely to do in the future either. For more see this Voice of America article.
Meanwhile the Pakistani military continues trying to clear militants from border areas with Afghanistan causing a continuing humanitarian disaster as families flee the fighting to overcrowded refugee camps. An official from the UN refugee agency said that more than 200,000 people have fled the fighting in the Khyber district since January. See this article.