The entire political leadership of the country agreed on Thursday to initiate a dialogue process in tribal areas with the slogan “Give peace a chance”, indicating a change in the strategy for tackling terrorism.
“Pakistan must initiate dialogue with a view to negotiating peace with our own people in the tribal areas and a proper mechanism for this be put in place,” says a 13-point resolution unanimously passed at the All-Party Conference convened by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss the situation arising out of serious allegations levelled by US officials against Pakistan’s armed forces and its intelligence agency, the ISI. The United States also alleged that the ISI had links with the Haqqani network of militants.
Although the APC was called to discuss the threats emanating from Washington, the resolution read out by Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan in her televised statement after the conference had no mention of the US or the Haqqani network. The resolution says: “The APC recognised that there has to be a new direction and policy with a focus on peace and reconciliation. ‘Give peace a chance’ must be the guiding central principle henceforth.”
Without elaborating, it says: “The APC rejected the recent assertions and baseless allegations made against Pakistan. Such assertions are without substance and derogatory to a partnership approach.”
Political and defence analysts said they believed that through the APC the political and military leadership had conveyed to the US that Pakistan now wanted to shift its approach of going all-out against militants in tribal areas and its main focus would now be on negotiating peace with the warring groups as being done by the US in Afghanistan.
“If Americans can hold dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan, then why not we do the same here,” Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan told reporters outside the Prime Minister House. He said the slogan “Give peace a chance” had been made part of the resolution on his demand supported by other opposition parties.
“As a peace-loving country, Pakistan desires to establish and maintain friendly and cordial relations with all countries of the world on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual interest and respect,” the resolution says, indicating to the US that Pakistan does not want confrontation with it.
Through the resolution, the participants called for improving bilateral relations with neighbouring Afghanistan. “We need to further enhance our brotherly bilateral relations with Afghanistan at three levels on a priority basis: government-to-government, institution-to-institution and people-to-people,” the resolution says.
The APC recognised the sacrifices of people and security personnel, especially the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas. “The international community needs to recognise these tremendous sacrifices as well as the colossal magnitude of destruction in Pakistan,” says the resolution.
It is evident from the resolution that besides discussing security-related issues, political leaders also deliberated upon prevailing economic situation in the country and stressed the need for enhancing self-reliance.
The resolution shows that opposition parties raised the thorny issue of alleged corruption in government ranks and compelled the rulers to agree on inserting their demand for taking steps to check the menace in order to achieve a consensus document.
It says: “Pakistan can enhance its self-reliance comprehensively. Trade, not aid, should clearly be the way forward. We should also focus on internal economic and tax reforms as well as resource mobilisation and the curbing of corruption.”
The opposition parties also managed to highlight failure of the government in implementing previous parliamentary resolutions. They compelled the government to agree that “all earlier unanimous resolutions of parliament and recommendations of the joint parliamentary committee on national security must be implemented” and “a parliamentary committee be formed to oversee the implementation of earlier resolutions as well as this resolution and progress on the same be made public on a monthly basis.”
The political leaders vowed to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the wake of any possible unilateral action by the US on the country’s soil.
“Defence of Pakistan’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity is a sacred duty which shall never be compromised. National interests are supreme and shall guide Pakistan’s policy and response to all challenges at all times,” the resolution says, adding: “Pakistan shall continue to endeavour to promote stability and peace at the regional and global levels, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.”
The political leaders also extended their full support to the armed forces and assured them of complete political unity in case of any threat to national security. “The Pakistani nation affirms its full solidarity and support for the armed forces of Pakistan in defeating any threat to national security.”