Recrafting foreign policy: After weeks of impasse, panel makes headway

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 6:00:08 by

ISLAMABAD: Parties from across the political spectrum are close to converging on re-engagement with the United States.

They are willing to allow for the resumption of Nato supplies through Pakistan, if drone strikes are brought to a halt.

Lawmakers who attended a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) on Tuesday said the panel is close to finalising a fresh draft of recommendations, but is focusing on an additional clause that would “force the US to stop drone strikes in Pakistan.”

“We have almost finalised a new draft that … all parties agree to,” the panel’s chairman Senator Raza Rabbani told reporters after the meeting.

Optimistic after Tuesday’s meeting, Rabbani said the all-party, bicameral panel had succeeded in evolving a consensus after extensive consultations with all stakeholders – military, political and religious leadership.

Opposition’s reaction

A representative of the largest opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said his party will look at the draft and take a decision on the fresh recommendations after consultations.

“Our party will discuss the new draft and is likely to approve it this time around,” said Mehtab Abbasi while talking to The Express Tribune after the meeting.

The government, meanwhile, is trying to convince the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) to give its input for the new draft.

The party continued its protest and boycotted the recent meeting of the PCNS.

Sources in the JUI-F told The Express Tribune that the party will not accept the new recommendations.

“We have nothing to do with the new draft, we will continue our boycott,” said a senior party official.

Other changes

The move to link the resumption of Nato supplies with a halt to drone strikes remained a key proposal on Tuesday.

Members of the panel also agreed to drop proposals from the original draft calling for transparency about the presence of foreign intelligence operatives in Pakistan, officials told The Express Tribune.

The clause which justifies the presence of foreign troops near border areas will also be dropped.

Members of the panel hoped they will succeed in finalising the draft on Thursday, when they meet again.

The draft will then be handed over to the National Assembly speaker for further deliberation in the ongoing joint sitting of parliament.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.

Islamabad News Sources -2

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