According to our Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit, the Parliamentary committee on National Security (PCNS) has completed the review of our relations with the United States and has come up with 35 recommendations which are to be ratified by a joint sitting of the parliament early next month. Since the composition of PCNS was fairly widespread, it is more than likely that the recommendations will get approved without much change.

However, since it is a matter of great importance for the country, it would have been appropriate to circulate the recommendations widely so that politicians outside the parliament as well as experts in the field could also participate in the decision making process. A particularly worrying report is that military trainers as well as special forces’ teams will be allowed back into the country. All this means is that after a short-lived show of defiance, we will fall back into the familiar, subservient mode which has been a hall-mark of our relations with the United States.

I remember the statement from CIA officials that they have established their own intelligence network in Pakistan and do not require any assistance from us. So, Mossad, CIA and Raymond Davis like characters will be allowed in again in the guise of military trainers and special forces personnel, under a legal framework this time, and permitted to complete their agenda, in cooperation with RAW and locally-recruited saboteurs, to dismember and defang nuclear Pakistan, while sitting comfortably right on our soil. In the prevailing situation, Separating Balochistan from Pakistan would be a relatively easier task. Surely, an independent Balochistan, under American influence of course, would provide a useful sea outlet to landlocked Afghanistan where the Americans plan a long stay, eliminating their dependence on us for their supplies, in addition to enabling them to control the region and contain China. According to newspaper reports, Balochistan separatist movements are quite active in the United States where they are getting a sympathetic ear and are sure to receive much more than that. Our forefathers suffered a lot in order to secure this homeland for us, half of which we managed to lose within a short span of 24 years, through sheer callousness, selfish interests and political wrangling. Do we have to facilitate the dismemberment of whatever is left, again because of personal greed and lack of concern on the part of some of us?

While not casting any aspersions on the capability of parliamentary committees, I do feel that earlier in its tenure, when the committee was introducing constitutional amendments, it could have introduced another one, to remove the confusion which we presently have, with our form of government neither being the full-fledged parliamentary democracy, which it was supposed to be, nor a presidential form where all powers rest with the president. Instead, we have a mixture of the two, with lot of overlap. Strictly speaking, the prime minister, as the chief executive, is supposed to be the power behind the government but is instead serving at the pleasure of the president who, as chairman of the party, can send him packing any time. Not only that but many important decisions which ought to be made by the prime minister emanate instead from elsewhere. A case in point is that on the resignation of Chairman, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and a member from Sindh and Vice-Chairman of NEPRA, Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister of Power Syed Naveed Qamar and Minister for Petroleum Dr. Syed Asim Hussain rushed to President Asif Zardari and not to Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The parliamentary committee ought to have legislated against the holding of dual offices but did not, which shoes that it is not infallible, which only strengthens the case for inviting outside comments and advice while determining terms of engagement with the United States.

Slight digression here.  Our Prime Minister just said that the energy problem will be solved within six months. Now, I remember that when the deadline for ending loadshedding as given by former water and power minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf passed uneventfully, and there was hue and cry, the PM offered him a ‘wise’ counsel, which was that in politics, dates are not given. Now, are we to assume that he just slipped up or else he is anticipating early elections?

S.R.H. HASHMI,

Karachi, January 21.