Killing of al-Qaeda leader puts focus on state’s delicately balanced contradictions and strategic ambiguity.
|The rare in-camera military briefing to the joint session of parliament was held under tight security [GALLO/GETTY]|
Pakistan’s parliament has demanded an end to US drone strikes on its territory, as well as an independent probe into the May 2 raid by US forces that killed Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, in Abbottabad.
The strongly worded resolution came at the end of an in-camera joint sitting of the parliament in Islamabad on Saturday. The session began on Friday.
Lawmakers were briefed by senior military officials, including Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, Director General of Military Operations Maj-Gen Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmad and Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Muhammad Hassan.
Parliamentarians, who were debating “the situation arising from unilateral US action in Abbottabad”, termed the continued occurence of missile strikes by US drones “unacceptable”.
“Such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith, failing which the government will be constrained to consider taking necessary steps including withdrawal of [the] transit facility allowed to NATO,” the resolution said.
The parliamentarians also rejected the government’s initial plan to have an inquiry into the circumstances around the raid be carried out by the Pakistani army.
They called on the government “to appoint an independent commission on the Abbottabad operation, fix responsibility and recommend necessary measures to ensure that such an incident does not recur”.
“The composition, modalities of the commission will be settled after consultations between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and leader of the opposition,” said the resolution.
Nevertheless, the parliament also reaffirmed its “full confidence in the defence forces of Pakistan”. During the session, ISI chief Pasha indicated that he would resign if parliament demanded it. None of the lawmakers present said that this would be necessary.
In a press conference held in Lahore later in the day, Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the country’s largest opposition party, said that he was giving the government three days to constitute a judicial commission to inquire into the Abbottabad raid.
Criticism for US
The parliamentary resolution strongly criticised the US raid in Abbottabad, saying “unilateral actions cannot advance the global cause of elimination of terrorism”, while warning of “dire consequences for peace and security in the region and the world” if a repeat of that operation was staged.
The resolution also calls on the Pakistani government to rethink its strategic partnership with the United States.
It says Pakistan should “revisit and review its terms of engagement with the United States, with a view to ensuring that Pakistan’s national interests are fully respected and accommodated”.
The resolution also highlighted the importance of international cooperation against terrorist groups “on the basis of a true partnership approach, based on equality, mutual respect and mutual trust”.
The joint sitting of parliament was held behind closed doors and under tight security. Journalists were not allowed inside the chamber to cover the proceedings.
Charsadda blasts toll rises
Meanwhile, the toll from a double suicide bombing outside a Frontier Constabulary fort in Charsadda, in northwest Pakistan, rose on Saturday to 80, with 150 people injured, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reported.
The bombers had targeted some 900 paramilitary recruits who had just completed their six-month training at the fort and were getting into vehicles at the beginning of 10 days of leave.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, terming it “the first revenge” for the killing of Osama bin Laden.