By: Abdul Kader Jaffer.
Former Pakistan High Commissioner
Pakistan’s decision to reopen Ground Lines of Communications GLOCs for passage of NATO supplies through Pakistani territory is very significant both at regional and international level. Pakistan has not issued the transcript of discussions that took place between Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and says that the one issued by the US State Department and American Embassy in Islamabad is true reflection of conversation that took place. Pakistan also says that press statement issued after meeting of Defense Committee of the Cabinet DCC chaired by Prime Minister Raja Ashraf Pervez gives a very clear idea as to what was discussed and understanding reached between the two sides.
Pakistan says that sentiments expressed by US side give a very fair assessment of what US feelings are about November 26, 2011 Salala check post attack in which 24 Pakistan Army officers and soldiers were martyred by US and ISAF aircraft and helicopters and that US is sorry for losses suffered by Pakistan Army.
It is not yet clear whether Pakistan will sign an agreement with the US when supply lines are formally reopened and would a separate agreement be signed with NATO and ISAF countries. The decision to block NATO supplies was made to ensure that Pakistan’s sovereignty is not violated again and its red lines are respected. On drones attack, Pakistan’s policy is very clear and has been very clearly expressed by DCC. Drones are counterproductive, they violate our sovereignty, territorial integrity and are against international laws.
It was mentioned in recommendations that all strategic agreements would be routed through Parliamentary Committee on National Security and it would be taken into confidence on all issues. The whole process should be undertaken in a very transparent manner. As draw down of NATO/ISAF forces gets underway from Afghanistan, Pakistan wants to facilitate the process in interest of regional peace and stability.
Peace and stability in Afghanistan was closely linked to peace and stability in Pakistan. Pakistan as partner of international community is playing its leading role against forces of terrorism as a frontline state. Foreign policy decisions need to be taken in a dispassionate manner as stakes are too high to be left at mercy of emotions.
Defense Committee of the Cabinet decided to reopen GLOCs through Pakistani territory to and from Afghanistan to facilitate transition and subsequent transformation process in that country and no lethal cargo will go into Afghanistan except equipment for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), essential for ensuring peace, stability in Afghanistan. After Salala check post attack on November 26, 2011, DCC asked for vacation of Shamsi airbase in Balochistan and blocked GLOCs through Pakistani territory to Afghanistan. These decisions were dictated by Pakistan’s principled stance on issue of sovereignty, which should be respected at all costs and in accordance with UN Charter and international law. In view of Pakistan’s larger objective of peace, stability in Afghanistan and the region and its cooperative relations with 50 member states of NATO/ ISAF, Pakistan wanted to facilitate transition process and help enable Afghanistan’s national institutions to exercise full sovereignty over their country. It reiterated Pakistan’s stance on drones and agreed to continue to engage the US on counter-terrorism cooperation and counter-terrorism tools that are in line with international law and practice. Pakistan’s future relations with the US must be based on mutual respect, mutual interest and conducted in transparent manner.
Parliament had given guidelines for revised terms of engagement with US, NATO, ISAF and general foreign policy by saying that Pakistan’s sovereignty shall not be compromised. The gap between assertion and facts on the ground need to be qualitatively bridged through effective steps. The relationship with US should be based on mutual respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of each other. The Government needs to ensure that principles of an independent foreign policy must be grounded in strict adherence to principles of Policy as stated in Article 40 of Constitution of Pakistan, UN Charter and observance of international law. The US footprint in Pakistan must be reviewed. This means (i) an immediate cessation of drone attacks inside territorial borders of Pakistan, (ii) cessation of infiltration into Pakistani territory on any pretext, including hot pursuit; (iii) Pakistani territory including its air space shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan. Pakistan’s nuclear program and assets, including its safety and security cannot be compromised.
US-India civil nuclear agreement has significantly altered strategic balance in the region, therefore, Pakistan should seek from the US and others a similar treatment/facility. The strategic position of Pakistan vis-à-vis India on subject of FMCT must not be compromised and this principle be kept in view in negotiations on this matter. Pakistan reaffirms its commitment to elimination of terrorism and combating extremism in pursuance of its national interest. The condemnable and unprovoked NATO/ISAF attack resulting in martyrdom of 24 Pakistani soldiers, represents a breach of international law and constitutes a blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity. Government should seek unconditional apology from the US for unprovoked incident of November 25-26, 2011 in Mohmand Agency. In addition following measures be taken; Those held responsible for Mohmand Agency attack should be brought to justice. Pakistan should be given assurances that such attacks or any other acts impinging on Pakistan’s sovreignty will not recur. Ministry of Defence/ PAF should formulate new flying rules for areas contiguous to the border. No verbal Agreement regarding national security shall be entered into by the Government, its Ministries, Divisions, Departments, attached Departments, Autonomous Bodies or other Organizations with any foreign Government or Authority. All such agreements or understandings shall cease to have effect forthwith and new procedure will be adopted pertaining to or dealing with matters of national security. No overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be permitted. All Agreements/MOU’s will be circulated to Parliamentary Committee on National Security which shall vet and make recommendations in consultation with stakeholders and forward the same to Federal Cabinet for approval under Rules of Business of Federal Government and referred to both Houses of Parliament. No private security contractors and/or intelligence operatives shall be allowed. Pakistan’s territory will not be provided for establishment of any foreign bases.
International community should recognize Pakistan’s colossal human and economic losses and continued suffering due to the war on terror. In the minimum, greater market access of Pakistan’s exports to US, NATO countries and global markets should be actively pursued. In the battle for hearts and minds an inclusive process based on primacy of dialogue and reconciliation should be adopted. Such process must respect local customs, traditions, values and religious beliefs. There is no military solution to Afghan conflict and efforts must be undertaken to promote a genuine national reconciliation in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. To strengthen security along Pak-Afghan border, including cross border flow of criminal elements, narcotics and weapons, feasibility of additional measures including electronic surveillance may be evaluated and process of local joint Jirgas be encouraged according to local customs, traditions. Pakistan territory shall not be used for any kind of attacks on other countries and all foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from its soil. Likewise, Pakistan does not expect soil of other countries to be used against it. The Government needs to review present focus of foreign policy keeping in view aspirations of people, needs to establish a balance by emphasizing links with traditional allies, building new relationships for diversifying sources of economic, military and political support.
Foreign policy must continue to focus on creating peaceful environment in the region to pursue goals of economic development and social progress. Pakistan’s support for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan remains cornerstone of its foreign policy.