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Pak Parliament Passes New Terms Of Engagement With US Restricting NATO Supplies

4/13/2012 4:42 AM ET

A joint session of both Houses of Pakistan Parliament on Thursday approved the revised recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) pertaining to the terms of engagement with U.S. and matters relating to the national security of Pakistan.

Under the Guidelines for Revised Terms of Engagement with USA/NATO/ISAF and General Foreign Policy, "Pakistani territory including its airspace shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan."

This will confine Afghanistan-bound NATO supplies to non-lethal materials only.

The Parliament rejected a call to set "immediate cessation" of U.S. drone attacks as a condition to allow resumption of NATO supplies.

The original consensus report prepared by PCNS was tabled at the joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly on March 20, and was passed in the House by a voice vote on Thursday after detailed deliberations.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani assured that his government would implement the guidelines "in letter and spirit."

He told the lawmakers that U.S. President Barack Obama had assured him during a nuclear security summit in Seoul last month that Washington would respect the Pakistani Parliament's review (of the terms of engagement). The United States responded cautiously to the passage of the crucial report. In a statement, State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Washington "respects the seriousness with which Parliament's review of U.S.-Pakistan relations has been conducted."

She said the U.S. government wanted to "discuss these policy recommendations with the Government of Pakistan and continuing to engage with it on our shared interests."

"We seek a relationship with Pakistan that is enduring, strategic, and more clearly defined," the statement added.

An 18-member parliamentary committee headed by PPP Senator Raza Rabbani was set up as the government came under pressure after a NATO attack on a Pakistani border post killed 24 Pak soldiers in November.

Rabbani urged the government to thoroughly revise the terms and conditions of a transit agreement with NATO, and strike a new deal before reopening a key supply route to NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Rabbani said drone attacks were counterproductive because of the loss of valuable lives and property. It radicalizes the local population, and creates support for the terrorists and fuels anti-American sentiments. U.S. drone attacks have killed hundreds of militants in north-west Pakistan, but the Obama administration halted the campaign temporarily after the November 26 attack in Mohmand tribal district on the Afghan border that killed the Pak soldiers, undermining bilateral relations.

Pakistan suspended transit of NATO supplies through its territory and its cooperation with the U.S. military.

But the U.S. resumed its drone strikes on January 7, and Obama confirmed that strikes by unmanned aircraft targeted "al-Qaeda suspects who are up in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan."

by RTT Staff Writer

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