It is a happy sign that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has remained steadfast in his opposition to the restoration of Nato supplies. He made it quite clear, in a statement in Islamabad, that his party would oppose it with or without condition at every forum. He decided to boycott the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) meeting since, he believed, that the government had already resolved to restore these supplies. It only wanted the parliamentary stamp of approval. Besides, he had reservations about the move to let the PCNS decide the policy of freedom and sovereignty of the country. The PCNS was due to meet on Sunday to discuss the issue; its meeting had, therefore, to be called off. That was done when its convenor Senator Raza Rabbani could not make any headway in getting the committee’s unanimous approval. When he tried to persuade the Maulana to give up his stand and participate in the meeting, the JUI-F chief maintained that only the party had the power of reviewing the matter. Similarly, the Jumatud Dawa, whose chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is currently the focus of US anger, and the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) as a whole have remained adamant, maintaining that they would physically stop the vehicles carrying the supplies.

Unfortunately, however, there is little doubt left now that PML-N has come round to accepting that the supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan’s land route could be restored, but only if the drone attacks were to come to a complete and permanent halt. Its President Mian Nawaz Sharif, addressing a function on the occasion of the formal announcement of Engineer Amir Muqam to join the PML-N at Peshawar, appeared resigned to the restoration. It is, indeed, an ominous development for the country’s interests and tends to reaffirm the common perception that the PML-N is not an opposition party in the sense that it does not have markedly different policies from the ruling PPP. Somehow, coming to the crunch on crucial issues, it ultimately joins hands with the PPP and bails it out. It does not bode well for the PML-N that is to face the general elections any time this year or early next year.

The Pakistani electorate is overwhelmingly resentful of the US policy of operating in a manner that can only harm Pakistan’s national interests. Not only the drone strikes, but also several other patently deleterious acts against Pakistan, they rightly perceive, are irreconcilable with our authorities’ attitude of compliance with the American demands. The Nato supplies had to be stopped when the nationwide outrage at the murder of 24 Pakistani soldiers at the hands of Nato helicopters left the government with no other choice. Washington, on its part, has stuck to its refusal to apologise – it rather exacerbates the anti-US feelings by putting the blame on Pakistan for the Salalah attack –, reverse its policy of singling out India for its favours and stop the encouragement of India from meddling in Afghanistan, Fata and Balochistan. Against this background, the people of Pakistan see no reason to facilitate the withdrawal of troops by letting them use our land route.