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Pakistan parliament approves new guidelines on ties with US

Pakistan’s parliament approved new guidelines for the country’s troubled ties with the United States,a decision that will likely pave the way for the re-opening of supply lines to NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan that have been blocked since November

Written by Associated Press | Islamabad | Published: April 13, 2012 1:21 am

Pakistan’s parliament approved new guidelines for the country’s troubled ties with the United States on Thursday,a decision that will likely pave the way for the re-opening of supply lines to NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan that have been blocked since November.

The proposals call on the Pakistani government to allow the international coalition to resume transporting its supplies through the country,as well as demand an end to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. But the guidelines do not directly link the two issues or make a halt in strikes a prerequisite to reopening the supply lines.

Pakistan’s parliament has in the past called for an end to the drone strikes,which are a source of popular outrage in the country and have fuelled anti-Americanism. The US has ignored Islamabad’s previous entreaties,and is unlikely to change its policy now.

Islamabad closed the supply lines in November to protest US airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.

The government called for a parliamentary vote into relations with the US to give it political cover for reopening the routes. Opposition parties riding a wave of anti-American sentiment had rejected a previous set of guidelines,but voted with government lawmakers on Thursday to approve the new set,suggesting that all parties wanted to put the matter behind them.

“We believe that the world has heard the voice of the people of Pakistan,’’ Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told parliament. “I would like to assure the house that our government will implement the recommendations that have been made in both letter and spirit.’’

He didn’t say when the supply lines would re-open.

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