At a high-level meeting held at the Presidency on Monday and jointly chaired by President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, it was agreed that the national pride and honour would not be allowed to be compromised in any decision taken to restore the supply line for Nato goods. The meeting was attended, among others, by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI DG Lt-General Zaheerul Islam, besides some federal Ministers and Secretaries. While Mr Gilani briefed the participants about his talks with British leaders, Ms Khar gave an update of talks of the technical groups going into the nitty-gritty of implementing the decision on supplies and General Kayani briefed about his meeting with General Allen.
Though Mr Zardari is reported to have left it to the Defence Committee of the Cabinet to take the final decision on the reopening of the route for Nato goods, in the light of Parliament’s recommendations, the sense of the meeting at President House was that virtually all were in favour of letting the supplies transit through. Ms Khar’s remark, “It was important to make a point, Pakistan has made a point and we now need to move on and go into a positive zone and to try to conduct our relations”, succinctly reveals the fact that the decision, in principle, has been taken, as there are also indications that the US and its Nato allies have agreed to make some face-saving moves in response to Pakistan’s demands. These moves like assurance against any recurrence of Salala-type incidents, Washington believes and, perhaps, Islamabad hopes would help in making a sizeable dent in the now strong opposition to resumption. It is, in all likelihood, a wrong assessment of the mood of the people. Unless, the US comes out with a commitment to stop the drone onslaught in the future and tenders an apology for Salala, the anger and resentment that one witnesses in Pakistan would not go away.
No doubt, it is important to mend fractured relations with the superpower and 40 Nato countries, but the government should be able to convince them that they cannot pressurise Pakistan into accepting their demands without addressing its legitimate concerns. The US must not disregard the sensitivities of our people. As for us, if we had to make a point and come down to business as usual, with only an assurance against recurrence of Salala-type attacks, there was no point in dragging the issue for so long.