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Published Date: May 16, 2011


Pak-US relations are at cross-roads and Pakistan’s policy-makers should adopt honest and truthful approach and accept their mistakes to gain the trust and confidence of people of Pakistan and subsequently international community. There was a near unanimous agreement amongst the speakers and participants that Pakistan’s military establishment and intelligence services should be brought under the civilian control. Parliament should make foreign and defence policies of the country. Parliament’s resolution should be implemented and there should be an independent commission to fix responsibility for the May 2 event.

Defense and security analyst, Lt-Gen (r) Talat Masood, Dr Rifaat Hussain Syed, Professor and Chairman, Defence and Strategic Studies at the Quaid-I-Azam University, former ambassador and analyst, Tariq Fatemi and Executive Director, SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri gave these comments during a special seminar on “War on Terror: Post-Osama regime” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. Dr Suleri moderated the proceedings and maintained that it was defining moment for the country. He urged that the parliament should be independent and sovereign to make national policies whereas army and intelligence agencies should abide by those policies. He said that concept of ‘Troika’ must be redefined in the context of people’s point of view, political leadership should not look towards military for policy guidelines, defense budget should be presented and debated in the parliament and intelligence agencies should raise their level of tolerance towards genuine criticism.

Lt-Gen(r) Talat Masood was of the strong view that the only best way to defend Pakistan is to be honest and transparent and accountable to the people of Pakistan. He urged that the policy-makers should accept their humiliative mistakes, tell the people real truth which in turn will forgive them and will provide support to them necessary to even strengthen democracy and bridge international trust-deficit. “We should end this self-denial and weaving of conspiracy theories rather we should take this incident as a golden opportunity to have a paradigm shift into our policies and approaches” he underlined adding if the intention is good the people of Pakistan and international community will accept and forgive of these wrongs. He said that it was not the mistake of current government but persistent mistakes have been made by Gen Musharraf, General Zia and General Ayub. He urged that the structured institutions should formulate the policies and define the future narrative for Pakistan while the principle of civilian supremacy must be accepted.

Tariq Fatemi underlined that the two countries were at cross-roads adding that both need to refrain from jingoistic statements and emotional outbursts while looking at what went wrong and review their relations. He said that the elected representatives in Pakistan cannot respect the unwritten agreements and understandings with the US amid awakened people, media and judiciary any more.

He lamented that the Osama incident was unprecedented in Pakistan’ history and now the country stands as isolated, humiliated and embarrassed more than ever as not only the US but all friends of Pakistan have misgivings against the country. He forecasted that there were deep and multiple repercussions of this tragic incident for the country. On internal front, the country faces a complex question of being incompetent or complicit. Country’s different key institutions seems to have adopted contradictory approaches soon after the tragic incident besides a lack of trust has emerged in the armed forces of the country despite their high professionalism, competence and sacrifices. On US unilateral action, he was of the view that international law is not only formulated through agreements and mechanisms but events and actions also contribute in the making of laws which acquires quasi-legal status. “Unless Pakistan calls it violation of its sovereignty, this action may be used as act of precedence like of neighboring capital is vowing to take” he said adding that the Pakistan should immediately consult the relevant forums on this.

Dr Rifaat said that it was a tight spot for Pakistan and US policy-makers were divided over future relations with the country while Pakistan’s friends’ circle has been significantly shrunk. He said that US will develop its narrative as it has lot of documentary evidences and proofs including the information about local support network of OBL which has weakened Pakistan’s diplomatic hand which will provide them opportunity to put further pressure on Pakistan. He predicted that the US will pressure the country to unblock negotiations on fissile material technology, accept greater Indian role in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s diminished role in end goals in Afghanistan. He said that there ware less chances of US aid cut off but there was high probability that the conditionalities will be hardened.

Dr Rifaat said military is currently unhappy over the civilian government’s handling of the situation. “The military and intelligence agencies have first time submitted to the will of people but there was need to go beyond that gesture” he added.

During the discussion, the question was raised as to whether Pakistan is an innocent state, a co-habitant state giving protection to terrorists, given various historical reasons, or whether it is a terrorists’ harbouring state under international law. Dr Rifaat was of the opinion that no one in the world would accept Pakistan as an innocent state. We should try not to get declared as a state which harbours terrorists under international law. Pakistan’s best bet would be to be seen as a co-habitating state. Dr Suleri raised the issue of Pakistan’s defense expenditure to be cut. Gen (r) Talat Masood urged to redefine the national security in terms of people’s security. He said “people of Pakistan and human resources are the real nuclear weapons Pakistan has”. A participant from Sindh raised the question of getting input from all federating units regarding foreign policy of Pakistan and he also elaborated in detail how Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have been undermining the efforts of the various civilian governments to bring the establishment under civilian control. Pakistan should be honest and truthful to its people and to the world outside and should make policies which protect its citizens and world at large and make a paradigm shift in its security policy and practice.