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The Pakistani Parliament recently passed a resolution critical to the "war on terror." It passed unanimously without dissent after a fierce debate. This resolution recommended Dialogue begin with the Taliban and al Qa'ida. Dialogue is first among our recommendations. It is heartening to see a national parliament openly recommend Dialogue as preferred practice in defusing violence. For sure, violence in Pakistan arises from multiple sources, each with their own reasons. But Dialogue is still the best way to proceed. What is disheartening is that the current Administration in Washington prefers bullets to Dialogue.

What have bullets given us?
A fertile recruiting ground for suicide terrorists.
A doubling of the national debt.
Loss of respect from other nations--not to mention self-respect.
A much reduced military readiness.
An electorate weary of war.
Raza Rabbani, a Pakistani senator, leader of the Parliamentary Party PPP-Senate, and Deputy Secretary General, Pakistan People Party, was quoted in the 31 Oct 2008, Guardian Weekly. He had this to say:

"We need to prioritize our own national-security interests. As far as the US is concerned, the message that has gone with the resolution will definitely ring alarm bells, vis-a-vis their policy of bulldozing Pakistan... Dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution. The military will be replaced as early as possible by civilian law enforcement agencies.

The News Release:

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday strongly condemned missile attacks by US drones in Pakistani territory amidst parliamentarians' demands for implementation of the resolution unanimously passed at the conclusion of the in-camera parliamentary session last week.

Leader of the House in Senate Raza Rabbani tabled a resolution in the House to condemn US drone attacks, which was endorsed unanimously. He assured the House that the US ambassador would be summoned to register Pakistan's protest. He said the National Assembly speaker would constitute a committee to oversee the implementation of the unanimous resolution against terrorism passed by the in-camera session.

Unfortunate: The Senate resolution against drone attacks said strikes inside Pakistan were unfortunate and a gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. The resolution underlined that continued incursions were harming the government's efforts to seek a political solution through dialogue.

The House said such strikes were an effort to undermine parliament. It called on the government to ensure such attacks did not recur. The House called on the government to protest with the US as well as NATO and ISAF authorities, and to seek assurances for full respect of Pakistan's sovereignty.

The senators urged the government to implement parliament’s earlier resolution against US drone attacks inside Pakistani territory, rather than merely passing resolutions. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Ishaq Dar asked the government to ensure implementation of Monday’s resolution, which guarantees sanctity of the Pakistani territory. He demanded the government should inform the House of any action taken to stop such violations.

Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Khursheed Ahmad said foreign forces should know parliament was warning them through a unanimous resolution. He wondered if parliament was capable in checking such attacks. He said the government was ignoring parliament’s verdict and demanded implementation of the parliamentary resolution in letter and spirit. Senator Azam Swati said, "Let us call an enemy an enemy now."

No need: Leader of the Opposition Kamil Ali Agha argued there was no need to move a resolution after parliament had already passed a joint resolution on the issue reflecting the support of the whole nation for the government on the issue. He said the government should ensure implementation of the parliamentary resolution passed at the conclusion of the joint in-camera session instead of repeating such resolutions.

Agha said the government should talk in clear terms with those responsible for such violations of national sovereignty. He demanded the government take notice of what he called trampling of the sentiments and verdict of the people of Pakistan in the form of a joint resolution.

Whether we like it or not, our erstwhile ally, Pakistan, has now essentially turned against our use of violence to counter violence. We can only hope for greater enlightenment in future Administrations.


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