Response calibration Response calibration 

IN the backdrop of hard-hitting speech of the US President accusing Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and increasing American pressure on the country to do more to facilitate its safe exit from the Afghan mess, there will be two important events in September that would afford an opportunity to have brain-storming sessions both internally and internationally on how best to address the challenge. Government proposes to hold an envoys’ conference after Eidul Azha and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is expected to lead Pakistan’s delegation to the UN General Assembly where he would get an opportunity to have bilateral meetings with leaders of important countries to put across the country’s point of view. Already, the issue is being discussed threadbare both by the Senate and the National Assembly and it is hoped that the two houses, on conclusion of the debate, would pass resolutions providing guidelines for the government. No doubt, Parliament is the right forum to debate and formulate policies on all important issues but unfortunately we either ignored this platform or paid no heed to the guiding principles laid down by Parliament to protect and promote national interests. There is no substitute to collective wisdom and, in fact, according due importance and significance to Parliament also reduces pressure on leadership and strengthens its hand while talking to other countries. Therefore, it is hoped that the leadership would operate strictly within the framework of the guidelines to be provided by the two Houses. It is good that the proposed visit of the US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells has been delayed at the instance of Pakistan so that internal debate crystallises and talks are held in a meaningful way. However, there are reports that the United States is not just seeking action against what it calls safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan but also wants Pakistani troops to fight the war alongside the NATO troops inside Afghanistan. Insiders say this has been the main sticking point as Pakistan has so far opposed the proposition as it would amount to get itself entangled in a treacherous situation. There should be no compromise on this account as it not only involves the issue of respect for Afghan sovereignty but could also endanger lives of our troops who are already engaged in an unending war at home. As for the envoys’ conference, it is hoped that the policy as delineated by Parliament would be discussed and guidelines issued to Pakistani missions abroad to aggressively safeguard interests of the country on diplomatic front.

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