Pakistan has been an important but uneasy partner of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism, and has faced growing anti-Western sentiment at home.
Pakistan's Parliament on Friday warned of “dire consequences” for peace and security in the region and the world if the unilateral action taken by the U.S. in Abbottabad on May 2 is repeated. It also authorised the government to consider withdrawal of transit facility to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in case of more such unilateral attacks or drone strikes.
In a resolution adopted late on Friday night at the end of the joint session of Parliament — in which the Inter Services Intelligence Director-General Shuja Pasha submitted himself to the legislature's scrutiny after providing an in-camera briefing on the Abbottabad operation — members affirmed full confidence in the defence forces.
As for Lieutenant-General Pasha's offer to resign, there was no indication on whether it had been accepted or rejected 24 hours after it was offered in Parliament. But the very admission of intelligence failure is a first for Pakistan's military, which has ruled the country for nearly half its history and has come in for considerable criticism after the Abbottabad operation for alleged complicity and apparent incompetence. In fact, it is being billed as a 1971-like moment when the armed forces morale reached an all-time low following the loss of East Pakistan.
In a related development, the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, said intelligence organisations should stop meddling in politics; adding they need to be brought under civilian control and their budgets subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Briefing reporters in Lahore, he said had the democratic process been allowed to function uninterrupted in Pakistan the country would have been on an entirely different trajectory, reiterating the need for foreign policy to be decided by the elected government and not the security establishment.
The resolution also called for revisiting and reviewing the terms of engagement with the U.S. to ensure that Pakistan's national interests are fully respected and accommodated in pursuit of policies for countering terrorism and achieving reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.
Briefing mediapersons about the resolution, federal Information & Broadcasting Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the time had come to revisit all policies including the national security strategy, bilateral relations and war on terror.
Describing the Abbottabad operation as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, the resolution noted that unilateral actions cannot advance the global war against terror. It also expressed distress on the campaign “launched by certain quarters in other countries” to malign Pakistan without appreciating the nation's efforts and sacrifices in combating terror.
The resolution also urged the federal government to appoint an independent commission on the Abbottabad operation, fix responsibility and recommend necessary measures to ensure that such an incident does not recur. The composition/modalities of the commission will be decided in consultations between the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition.