"Give peace a chance'' was the resolve of the political and military leadership of the country on Thursday at the end of a marathon session to evolve a national response to the recent slew of accusations by the U.S. regarding Pakistan's “institutional links with terrorism''.
Without once mentioning the U.S. or using the word terrorism in its unanimous resolution, the All Parties Conference (APC) resolved to stress on peace and reconciliation instead of military operations. Calling for a new direction and policy with a focus on peace and reconciliation, the resolution said “give peace a chance'' must be the guiding central principle from now on.
To carry forward this paradigm shift, the politicians from across the spectrum decided that dialogue should be initiated to “negotiate peace with our own people in the tribal areas''. As for Washington's allegations, the APC — without going into specifics — rejected “the recent assertions and baseless allegations made against Pakistan'' adding such assertions were without substance and derogatory to a partnership approach.
Though relations with Afghanistan have been particularly strained since the assassination of the Afghan High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani last week, the resolution stressed the need to “further enhance our brotherly relations with Afghanistan'' on a priority basis at a governmental, institutional and people-to-people level.
As in the case with the joint session of Parliament after the U.S. operation in Abbottabad, the political class again rallied behind the military; affirming full solidarity and support for the armed forces of Pakistan in defeating any threat to national security.
Briefing the media about the deliberations on Friday, the former Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) chief, Nawaz Sharif, said he had called for soul-searching as there must be some reason why other countries do not accept Pakistan's contentions on face value. “A nation which cannot face up to itself will not be able to face the world,'' he said.
Also, according to Mr. Sharif, there was a need to give up Pakistan's aid dependency. Talk of sovereignty from a nation holding a begging bowl is not taken seriously, he asserted. The resolution takes note of this contention by calling for “trade not aid'' and the need to focus on internal economic and tax reforms besides resource mobilisation to make Pakistan self-reliant.
As opposed to Mr. Sharif's call for introspection, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) leader Fazl-ur-Rehman alleged that the U.S. was out to destabilise Pakistan and said Islamabad should reach out to China and Russia.
Meanwhile, even as the APC sought to douse anti-American tempers while holding ground on setting its own agenda, unmanned drones — operated by the CIA and identified by Islamabad as a core irritant in bilateral relations with the U.S. — pounded North Waziristan during the day killing at least three persons and injuring a few others.
Keywords: ISI terror links