Finally, the joint session of Parliament, meeting on Friday, took up the issue of resetting Pak-US ties and unanimously approved the revised 14-point recommendations of its committee on national security, favouring the resumption of supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan, but on certain strict conditions. These recommendations provide the government the basis for negotiations with the US Administration. They include: an immediate cessation of drone strikes; not allowing the country or its airspace to be used for transportation of weapons into Afghanistan; an unconditional apology for the Salala attack; no overt or covert operation in Pakistan; no private security companies or operatives to be allowed in Pakistan; no establishment of bases by a foreign power on Pakistani soil; an end to verbal agreements with other countries; and the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets not to be compromised. Presenting the revised recommendations before Parliament, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on National Security Senator Raza Rabbani said that the revision had the unanimous approval of parties, adding, “The relationship with the US should be based on mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

It might appear a tall order since the US has so far been emphatic in saying that it would not stop the drone attacks because, in its view, they target those who could imperil peace of the US. However, any review of relations even with allies has to conform to the imperatives of national sovereignty and independence. A respectful acceptance of these conditions will satisfy that stipulation. Therefore, it was good to hear Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani assure the parliamentarians that the revised recommendations would be fully implemented. “We are making history today. And (demonstrating) that we have the strength, the resolve and the ability to take critical decisions in the interest of the nation,” he observed. Not impressed by Mr Gilani’s assurance, and just after having signed onto the unanimous acceptance of the resolution, the leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said it was “a half-done job and the move could only be called historic when it would be implemented.” In his statement lurked the apprehension that these recommendations might go the way the previous parliamentary resolutions went, “not a single clause” of whom had been implemented. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who ended his party’s noisy, but ultimately fruitless, boycott on the intercession of President Zardari, warned that if the government treated these recommendations the same way as the previous resolutions, it would be tantamount to sabotaging Parliament.

A sizeable number of people and religious groups in the country are opposed to the restoration of Nato supplies in any form at all, with threats to block their passage by physically intervening. Such threats must be legally and firmly dealt with and Parliament must exert itself to have these recommendations obeyed or risk being made a laughing stock of by the Americans, in front of its electorate in an election year.