MINISTER for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry, who was surely making a statement as chief spokesperson of the Government, spoke for the people of Pakistan when he categorically ruled out military bases for the United States and trade with India.
Briefing newsmen about proceedings of the Federal Cabinet on Tuesday, he clarified that no negotiations were in progress for giving any base and that Pakistan won’t restore relations with India unless it restores Kashmir’s special status prior to August 5, 2019 position.
These are, of course, highly sensitive issues and conflicting reports about the possibility of allowing drone bases to the United States and trade with India continue to agitate the minds of the people in Pakistan.
The policy and decision- makers might have ifs and buts on these issues but as far as people of Pakistan are concerned they are absolutely clear on all issues that are, in any way, linked to the sovereignty of the country or have bearing on the core interests of the nation.
The confusion arose when media reports revealed that Pakistan and the United States discussed the possibility of the former hosting the latter’s drone during an unannounced visit of the CIA Chief William Burns to Pakistan.
There were reasons to be suspicious as in the past the country offered ‘beyond expectation’ cooperation to the United States on the pretext of assistance in so-called counter-terrorism campaign making it centre of all sorts of power games by different players.
We have consistently been emphasizing in these columns that the policy of making collective decisions should be encouraged as it is the sure guarantee of safeguarding interests of the country against all odds.
The Government and the relevant institutions definitely have the right to discuss possibilities of cooperation with other countries in different areas but signing of the final agreement is linked to the approval of Parliament as is done in other countries and this will also relieve undue pressure on the rulers.
In this backdrop, the categorical statement of the Minister for Information is reassuring and one hopes the Government would live up to its commitment of not allowing military bases for whatever use to any foreign power especially when drones or aircraft are to be used against a sovereign neighbour with grave implications for the security of our own country.
Similarly, there should be absolute clarity on the issue of talks with India as flexibility on the question of dialogue has to be from Indian side and not from Pakistan in the given circumstances.