July 7, 2012 1:30:38 am
A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press
PAKISTANS longstanding demand of an apology from the US for last years air strike at the Salala checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border,in which its troops stationed there were killed,was finally met this week. Pakistan had shut the GLOCs (ground lines of communication) between Pakistan and Afghanistan that serviced NATO troops stationed across the Durand Line,much to the chagrin of the US,as this blockade starved NATO troops of military supplies. Now,with the US tendering this much-coveted apology,the route has been opened.
The task of saying sorry was undertaken by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On July 3,The Express Tribune quoted a statement attributed to Clinton,released by the government: During a telephone conversation with her Pakistani counterpart,Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar,she informed me that the ground supply lines into Afghanistan are opening… Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives… We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again.
Soon after this telephonic rapprochement,Pakistans Defence Cabinet Committee (DCC),the powerful club for defence and strategy,met and announced that the supply routes would be reopened. However,Pakistan placed one constraint,The News reported on July 5: The spokesman of the Foreign Office Muazzam Khan said… that Pakistan had not given permission for the transport of lethal weapons.
Another report in The News on July 5 stated that the US is expected to release around $800 million in the first quarter (July-September),of the total of $1.2 billion due to Islamabad under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). While the trucks were blockaded and negotiations were underway, the toll tax for each truck had been hiked,which reportedly caused the US to think that Pakistan was trying to make a quick buck.
Last week,it was rumoured that Pakistan,due to some compulsions,was ready to cut a deal with the US to end the blockade. One theory reported in foreign media was that Pakistan was secretly transporting military supplies to the NATO forces by air,thereby acquiescing to the US demand of facilitating its troops. Daily Times quoted Khar on July 5: there was no secret deal with the US for reopening the route,rather the decision was taken in accordance with the parliamentary recommendations regarding resetting (the) rules of engagement with the US and restoration of the NATO supply. The government never deviated from any parliamentary resolution…
Protecting their own
NEW legislation could be underway in Pakistan to protect legislators from being tried for charges like contempt of court and holding dual nationality,after two current government heavyweights felt the heat because of such allegations. After last weeks ordinance promulgated by President Asif Ali Zardari to provide constitutional immunity to all decisions taken by Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister,the federal cabinet passed a draft bill to grant blanket immunity to the office of the PM,amongst others,from contempt of court proceedings. Daily Times reported on July 5: The federal cabinet… approved the Contempt of Court Bill 2012,which envisages immunity from contempt of court proceedings for the president,prime minister,ministers and chief ministers,under Article 284-1 of the Constitution… It enlarges the scope of the right to appeal and incorporates other necessary provisions relevant to contempt proceedings. Dawn had reported on July 4 that the federal cabinet approved another bill that sought to allow those holding dual nationality to participate in the next general elections. The bill also protects current holders of dual nationality from disqualification. Earlier this week,the Supreme Court suspended the membership of two legislators of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement an ally of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party,after they were found to hold dual nationality. Interior minister Rehman Malik has also been embroiled in a controversy over his British passport. Both bills will now be presented in parliament.
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