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Pakistani panel seeks apology from US

Pakistani panel seeks apology from US

Mar 20, 2012 - 15:38

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel, reviewing Islamabad-Washington relations, on Tuesday sought an unconditional apology from NATOinfo-icon-led troops in Afghanistaninfo-icon for last year’s deadly attack and a halt to US drone strikes in Pakistaninfo-icon.

At least 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed and several others wounded in an International Security Assistance Force (ISAFinfo-icon) airstrike on their posts in the Mohmand tribal region near the Afghanistan border on November 26.

In an angry reaction to the incident, the Pakistan government halted supplies to foreign troops in Afghanistan and formed a parliamentary committee to review the terms of engagement with the United States.

During a joint sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, Mian Raza Rabbani, chairman of the body, sketched out its recommendations and urged the government to demand an unconditional apology for the "unprovoked" assault.

Pakistan should levy taxes and other charges on all goods transiting through its territory, the panel said, calling for a stop to drone attacks inside the country. It reaffirmed the country's commitment to the elimination of terrorism and combating extremism.

Rabbani insisted on Parliament’s approval of any future use of Pakistani bases or airspace by foreign forces. Lawmakers are expected to debate the recommendations for several days before voting on the committee’s report. Fifty percent of US/ISAF supplies be shipped through Pakistan Railways.

While warning that no overt or covert operation inside Pakistan would be tolerated, the commission suggested that there should be prior permission and transparency on the presence of foreign intelligence operatives in the country.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, talking to reporters outside the parliament building, said future ties with the US would be based on the panel’s recommendations. “We have to see what is in the best interest of the country while finalising the recommendations.”

In order to curb the movement of criminals, drugs and weapons across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the committee called for considering the option of electronic surveillance and encouraging local joint jirgas. It said Pakistan's support for peace and stability in Afghanistan should remain the cornerstone of its foreign policy.


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