The USA has not reacted well to the proposed policy directives by Parliament in the reset of Pak-US relations. Apparently while Ambassador Munter used polite language; the majority of American legislators are bent upon launching drone strikes. Ending them was one of the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, but several US Senators from across the partisan divide insisted on the drone strikes continuing. Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, the 2004 Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, characterized the drone strikes as ‘critically important to America’s national security’, Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein laid conditions, including going into North Waziristan, on any cessation and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that Pakistanis had to tell ‘terrorists’ they were not welcome. It must be noted that these sharp statements were made by legislators after the Obama Administration, through Secretary Clinton, refused to comment on the recommendations until Parliament had completed its review. However, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry that Pakistan should not look to the USA but to its own government. It seems that the USA is pulling out the heavy artillery, and is unhappy enough with the proposals before Parliament to be ready to reduce all aid. He also took the opportunity of declining US responsibility for the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones that had been promised by President Bush. The Ambassador’s statement was one official American response; another was US Commander in Afghanistan Gen John Allen’s revival before a congressional committee, to which he testified on Wednesday, that Pakistan was providing safe havens to the resistance. This shows that the USA, far from being apologetic about the viciousness shown by its gunship helicopters against an ally, was bent upon using all the tools at its disposal to prevent Pakistan from asserting its own sovereignty. It might be seen that the USA is more worried now by Parliament’s action than by anything else, for the PCNS recommendations before it, while attuned to the needs of Pakistani sovereignty, and recognizing US sovereignty, do not recognize US superiority, and postulated relations between the two as between two equal states, rather than between a quasi-colony and its superior, as the USA seems to want, and as it seems that the ruling elite of Pakistan is willing to accept. It is now imperative that Parliament does not dilute national sovereignty, and does not succumb to any US blandishments. Obviously, the USA sets a very high store by the drone attacks. Parliament has a duty to follow only Pakistan’s national interest in this matter, not the USA’s.
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The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as Executive Editor of The Nation.