Pakistan to Talk It Out
Posted on Oct 24, 2008
Growing anger at “America’s war” has led to massive popular protests and parliamentary action against U.S. military involvement in Pakistan. A resolution passed by Pakistan’s parliament Wednesday calls for dialogue with “extremist groups” and an end to military activity, a strategy that refocuses the country toward an “independent foreign policy.”
Serious doubts multiplied yesterday [Thursday] about Pakistan’s commitment to America’s military campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban after parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for dialogue with extremist groups and an end to military action.
The new strategy, backed by all parties, emerged after a fierce debate in parliament where most parliamentarians said that Pakistan was paying an unacceptable price for fighting “America’s war”. If implemented by the government, support for Pakistan from international allies would come under severe strain, adding further instability to a country facing a spiral of violence and economic collapse.
“We need to prioritise our own national security interests,” said Raza Rabbani, a leading member of the ruling Pakistan People’s party. “As far as the US is concerned, the message that has gone with this resolution will definitely ring alarm bells, vis-a-vis their policy of bulldozing Pakistan.”
In an overwhelming decision, the Pakistani parliament passed a resolution calling for negotiations with militant groups and a cessation of military activity against them.