ISLAMABAD - The joint sitting of the Parliament on Friday continued debate on the new terms of engagement with the United States and foreign policy in general, as some legislators suggested that weapons should not be allowed to transit through the Nato supply line, whereas others totally rejected reopening the routes.

But the most noticeable thing, according to the BBC, was that the top leaders of the opposition parties, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, did not attended the session. The house, which was adjourned after the speeches by six legislators to meet again on Thursday (April 5), also passed two bills including ‘Modaraba Companies and Modaraba (Floatation and Control) (Amendment) Bill‚ 2009’ and ‘The Delimitation of Constituencies (Amendment) Bill‚ 2011’. Sharing his proposals, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said weapons should not be allowed to transit through the Nato supply line as it would be against national interests, but the remaining provisions could be discussed through quid pro quo.

He linked resumption of the supplies to halting the drone attacks, adding that the Parliament had a rare opportunity to take important decisions concerning national security without any foreign pressure.

He urged all political leaders to grasp this historic opportunity to make Parliament a pivot in national security decision-making.

Citing some important decisions made by the civilians as example, Mushahid said the nuclear and missile programmes, the decision not to send troops to Iraq and others were taken by the civilian governments; therefore, there was no need to avoid discussion on new terms of engagement with the US and foreign policy.

Commenting on the recommendation prepared by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), he said there were many positive points in the document, including the proposals seeking unconditional apology from the US, any use of Pakistani bases by foreign forces, overt or covert operations inside Pakistan and others. However, he said there were doubts in some areas that must be settled. “The whole world is watching us; therefore, we should set the pace and discuss the report. For the first time, the parliament is being considered seriously as (US President) Obama is waiting for its final decision on the issue,” he added.

Mushahid further said the family members of Osama Bin Laden should be handed over to their home country.

During his speech, he also said Pakistan would oppose any attack on Iran and never allow its territory to be used against the neighbouring country.

Showing his disapproval, Maulana Abdul Malik described restoration of the Nato supplies against national interests. “Who will dare physical search in a container to check whether it is carrying weapons or not,” he remarked, ostensibly in response to Mushahid’s speech. He also blasted the US over the drone strikes.

While endorsing the observation of Mushahid Hussain, PPP Senator Saeed Ghani said those who signed the PCNS recommendations had now deviated from their stance, adding that the Parliament should take decision in the favour national interest. “What kind of democracy is this when remarks are heard in house that we will forcefully oppose if decision to restore the Nato supply is adopted in future,” he added. MNA from FATA Syed Akhundzada Chitan also strongly criticised the remarks of some legislators. “It is not the time for point scoring, these statements are surprising,” he added. He noted that if the drone strikes were stopped, it would prove 95 per cent success in implementation of the PCNS recommendations.

Chitan called for making decisions which could be executed in letter and spirit.

It may be mentioned mention that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rahman other day threatened to forcefully stop the supplies if the Parliament decided to reopen the routes.

Senator Sehar Kamran expressed the hope that the Parliament would implement the recommendations after they were finalised and congratulated the PCNS for drafting the document.

Saeed Mandokhel, a legislator from ANP, said worsening law and order situation in Balochistan could be handled if the matter was taken seriously. He also strongly condemned targeted killings in Karachi.