The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) met at Islamabad on Saturday and resolved to continue the blockade of goods meant for NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan. This measure was initially taken in reaction to the Nato/Isaf raid on the Salalah check post on November 26 last year. Since then, despite American efforts for the hurried resumption of the facility that is vital for the troops in Afghanistan, the supply has remained suspended. Alternative routes are either too hazardous, time-consuming or more expensive.

The Salalah attack, which led to the martyrdom of 26 of our security personnel, caused countrywide protests giving rise to the demand for ending cooperation with the US in the war on terror on a permanent basis. Since the transit facility for Nato containers and trucks is one important component of that cooperation, the decision to maintain the ban on their movement through Pakistan is in line with the wishes of the people. The general feeling here is that Pakistan’s association in the war on terror has been a disastrous decision with serious consequences for the country. It has provoked a spate of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks from the supporters of the Afghan resistance in Pakistan, which being an ally of the invading army, is regarded as an enemy by the resistance. These incidents have so far resulted in the deaths of 30,000 Pakistani civilians and over 5,000 soldiers; caused a loss of more than $70 billion to the economy that now lies in ruins; and spread insecurity across the length and breadth the country.

The DCC also expressed serious concern over the resumption of drone attacks after a break of a month and a half. The committee ought to have spelled out specific measures for ensuring that the drone strikes do not take place at all. Unfortunately, the much talked about review of relations with Washington that would set the new terms of engagement, has not yet materialised. The DCC is charged with drafting these terms; it had better expedite the draft which is supposed to contain specific mention that Pakistan would not tolerate the violation of its sovereignty, be it through drone attacks or any other form. In the meantime, it looks strange that it is Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who should be expressing Pakistan’s helplessness in stopping these strikes. On such an important issue, one would expect either the President, the Prime Minister or at least the Defence Minister to put the nation in the picture. When promises are made with much fanfare of the Air Force's ability to shoot down drones and the government and opposition's apparently staunch decision to no longer allow violation of our sovereignty; we must ask ourselves, have we been happy listening to empty promises all along?