Envoys' conference Pakistan wants answers to Nato attacks: PM -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Envoys’ conference Pakistan wants answers to Nato attacks: PM

By: Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan hopes that the US/Nato/Isaf inquiry being undertaken into last month’s Nato air strikes in Mohmand Agency will provide answers to the “disturbing questions” that Pakistan’s own investigations have raised, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said while addressing the concluding session of the two-day Envoys Conference at the Foreign Office on Tuesday.

Pakistan has sent a crystal clear message out to the world at the end of the conference: Pakistan will not accept transgression of its territorial integrity under any circumstances and its cooperation with US/Nato/Isaf is based on respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Under no circumstances, could Pakistan accept flagrant transgression of our territorial frontlines. This remains the base line and there can be no compromise on our sovereignty, dignity and national honour,” said the PM.

PM Gilani spoke as the US Senate agreed to freeze $700 million in aid to Pakistan. In a live televised address to the envoys, he said that Pakistan’s foreign policy was based on immutable principles. “The Charter of the United Nations, norms of inter-state conduct and international law provide the framework for our endeavours to ensure peace and security – both in our own region and the world,” he added.

He said it had been Pakistan’s consistent effort to reach out to its immediate and far neighbours and, in fact, all members of the international community to develop the best of relations. Sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation have been the hallmarks of this approach, the PM stressed.

“We believe that stability and peace at home and in our region is critical for enabling our people to realise their aspirations for progress and socio and economic development,” he said.

The spokesman at the Foreign Office said that the envoys discussed a wide range of Pakistan’s relationships with key countries, as well as international organisations and assessed the overall regional situation. The Conference reaffirmed that Pakistan’s external relations continue to be based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity in accordance with international law as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

Gilani said that the envoys’ conclusions and recommendations would receive close attention of the government. These recommendations come in the wake of the government’s decision to review its foreign policy after the US/Nato/Isaf violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by an unprecedented air strike in Mohmand Agency which took out 24 soldiers.

The PM hoped that the US/Nato/Isaf inquiry being undertaken would “come out clearly with the facts and provide answers to the disturbing questions that our own investigations have raised. Given the seriousness of the issue, the Government has already taken several important decisions. The Nato/Isaf logistic supply lines have been closed. Shamsi Airbase has been vacated. Pakistan did not participate in the Bonn Conference. A broad-ranging review of our cooperation with US/Nato/Isaf was ordered,” he added.

The News understands that Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will “sooner rather than later” be presiding over an inter-agency/ministerial meeting in the Foreign Office where all stakeholders will be taken on board so that there is a sense of ownership before the final draft of the envoys recommendations is handed over by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to the foreign minister who will then present them to the prime minister.

Gilani asked all principal stakeholders to be on the same page as his government continued to seek clarity and advocated the need for coherence, coordination and cooperation.

“I must say that the aerial attacks on our Army border posts on 26 November 2011 constituted a huge setback to the prospects of much-needed cooperation between all important stakeholders,” he said. Gilani reiterated that his government took certain steps to safeguard Pakistan’s interests.

“As a responsible state, Pakistan will do whatever we can for stability and peace of our region. But we will never allow anyone to undermine our legitimate interests. I am certain that the review and assessment undertaken by this Conference as well as your recommendations would be extremely helpful in determining the future course of action”, he told the envoys.

The Foreign Office was reluctant to share the envoy’s recommendations with the media saying they would first be sent to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS). There was no mention of this in the FO statement either.

The News understands that the envoys came up with different sets of recommendations for the US, Nato, Isaf, India and Afghanistan. Amongst the recommendations are those related to US and Nato in which two agreements of February 2002 will be reviewed. CIA’s footprint inside Pakistan was another issue about which some recommendations were furbished, as about ‘trade and not aid’.

On Afghanistan, recommendations centred around the US creating complications by showing that it wanted to talk and fight at the same time which was unrealistic and clearly showed it wasn’t serious about the reconciliation process.

The envoys recommended that talks were important with India but the Kashmir dispute had to be resolved. These recommendations will be deliberated upon by the PCNC and finally brought to the floor on the House in a joint sitting.

Earlier, Minister Khar speaking to the media said that Pakistan’s foreign policy was based on “peace within and peace without.” She said, “We will make polices keeping in view the core objectives and national interests of the country supreme.” She said that the envoys Conference ensured that Pakistan’s interest was defined and the means to protect it were also discussed in detail.

“The final decision on foreign policy is the Parliament’s mandate. Nato supplies cannot be restored by the Foreign Office alone, at least until an internal assessment regarding the Mohmand Agency attack is completed”, she said.

PPI adds: Talking to the media outside the Parliament House, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan does not want to spoil its relationships with any key country, nor intended to wage war.

She said that politicians made policies, while envoys only shared their opinions, adding that foreign policy would be finalised after the Parliament gave mandate to it.

NNI adds: Khar said that Pakistan would formulate policies keeping in view its objectives and supreme national interest. She was of the view that conflict with any country was not in Pakistan’s interest. “We do not want to end our ties with any country; we are just protecting and safeguarding our national interests.”

Source: The News