PAKISTAN’S TOP MILITARY LEADERS TO VISIT THE US TO FINALIZE TWO AGREEMENTS RELATING TO RE-OPENING OF NATO SUPPLIES LINE AND FUTURE COURSE OF MILITARY COOPERATION
By Azhar Masood, Special for All Voices
ISLAMABAD.July.17.2012. A top level military delegation will shortly visit the United States to finalize two Memorandum of Understanding with American top military leadership regarding reopening of NATO and US military logistic supplies and other matters relating the US-Pak future military cooperation.
Officials told this correspondent, ”modalities of the two agreements were agreed during last visit to Pakistan by Ambassador Sherry Rehman at the Cabinet’s defence Coordination Committee headed by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
DCC meeting was largely attended by senior military officials including Army Chief Gen.Ashfaque Pervez Kayani and Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi.
Pakistan’s military delegation to visit the US will be headed by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shamim Wyne.
Meanwhile in Pakistan right wing religious party –the Jamaat-e-Islami today declared reopening of NATO supply against Islamic Shriah.
“NATO supply is haram and against sharia, we will issue a fatwa (decree) against it,” said Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) K-P Chief Prof Ibrahim declared while addressing a protest rally with thousands of determined participants who agitated against re-opening of the NATO supply in Jamrud, sub-division of Khyber Agency on Tuesday.
Addressing the gathering at Bab-e-Khyber, the historic gate which has seen armies from Central Asia march into the Subcontinent and Nato tankers crossing over into Afghanistan for the past decade, he said that if the supply was not halted, they would march towards Islamabad. He lamented that NATO jets were bombing the tribal people, while the rulers were providing security to the Nato supply.
The rulers, the JI provincial head claimed, have forgotten the unprecedented sacrifices rendered by Pakistanis, adding “it is unacceptable to us.” He said that the JI would continue its protest until the supply was halted.
Lashing out at the government, central chief of JI Sirajul Haq said that the country’s integrity has been put at stake not only by the federal but also by the provincial government as well.
He added that corruption was rampant while the Awami National Party (ANP), which is the ruling party in K-P, was acting like a sub-branch of CIA. “The ANP is responsible for all the bomb blasts in the province,” he alleged. Siraj further blamed the ANP for the anarchy in the province, saying that the provincial government had given weapons to the people and formed peace committees.
Haq said that the government had deferred the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, which would have supplemented the gas dwindling gas resources in the country to shore up electricity generation and industry, solely due to US pressure.
“We would impose Khilafat and are not afraid of any sacrifice in the way of its imposition,” he declared.
Syed Munawarul Hassan, the JI chief said that the party would struggle to unleash an Egypt-like revolution in Pakistan, adding that the JI is against the military operation anywhere in the country which forces Pakistani people to live like refugees in their own country.
“The government has snatched all the employment opportunities from the people of Swat and Buner in shape of conducting offensives,” he said.
He asked that the chief of the armed forces should tell the nation that if peace has been restored in FATA and Swat then why are security forces gunned down in various incidents. He also asked why the security officials were not letting journalists to report from these areas. “The people should know how many mothers, sisters and wives have lost their loved ones and how many people have been put in torture cells in these areas,“ he said, suggesting the armed forces have been indulging in activities beyond the purview of their duties, codes of conduct. He asked when the Bara operation against the militants would end.
Hassan appealed to the gathered participants to join hands with the JI to work for the rights of the people. “We want to change the mind, and attitude of the people if Nato and US become a hurdle, we will choose the path of peace,” he commented.
The JI chief said that US is an enemy of Pakistan and the Muslim word and, in the larger picture, an enemy of Islam.
He said, “US burns copies of the Holy Quran, makes caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Therefore, we feel that people should support the Jamaat-e-Islami in the upcoming elections and other related activities.”
Hassan said that the people’s support will help JI get elected in the coming elections and more than that, rousing a revolution. “We want a behavioural revolution – a revolution of priorities and thinking and won’t let US become a hurdle in the way of this revolution.”
A large number of JI activists participated in the protest bringing the business activities in the area to a standstill. They also blocked roads leading to Khyber Agency while several people fainted due to sunstroke.
Members of the crowd told AFP on Tuesday that Islamabad’s decision to reopen the border, despite the United States eventually apologising for the deaths, was “treason”.
“The rulers have sold their blood for US dollars but we will continue to oppose it,” said Mohammad Amin, a shopkeeper from the northwestern Swat valley, where the Pakistan Army in 2009 defeated a two-year Taliban insurgency.
In Baluchistan border town of Chamman the Defence Council of Pakistan organized protest march against reopening of NATO’s supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan.
The march, headed by Maulana Samiul Haq, left from Quetta yesterday (Saturday), stopped at Yaaro for the night and resumed its march to Chaman early morning.
The participants of the long march will halt briefly at the Pir Ali Zai forest, Mir Zai base and Fort Abdullah, following which they will resume the march to Chaman.
Strict security measures have been taken for the long march which was part of the second phase of the long march announced by DPC.
Eariler, Maulana Samiul Haq had said that the long march was not just against re-opening Nato supplies but also against corruption, the increase in prices and power outages, adding that the act was un-Islamic.
The ongoing uproar over the restoration of Nato supplies reflects deep chasms among religious and political forces, which have failed to establish a united front over the matter.
The political spectrum is awash with rhetoric against the resumption of foreign supplies and the government is being pilloried for its failure to extract a more formal apology from the US and to put an end to drone strikes. Despite that, the response from the opposition is divided and somewhat mute as compared to what was expected during the seven-month-long blockade.
While mainstream political parties controlled their response to condemnations, religious parties seemed to be disorganised and party-centric, failing to iron out their differences for a common cause.
The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), a group of nearly 40 religious and extremists outfits, organised a rally from Lahore to Islamabad, which was attended by tens of thousands of supporters.
Despite that, the Jamaat-e- Islami (JI) will observe its own two-day protest against Nato supplies on July 16-17. JI workers will gather for a sit-in at night at the Bagh Naran Chowk in Hayatabad and in the morning they will leave for Bab-e-Khyber (gateway to Khyber) in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency.
The largest religio-political force in the country, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal, has its own plan to arrange a protest on Friday.
PTI chairmanwill hold a demonstration in Peshawar on July 14, which was initially meant to be against power outages. However, now it seems likely that the PTI is also trying to cash in on anti-US rhetoric. In addition to this, other mainstream political parties’ response has been somewhat milder, as they are engaged in political issues closer to home, including that of dual nationality and the contempt of court bill.
What politicians say
Sikandar Sherpao, parliamentary leader of Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao, ascribed lack of common stance to two factors: an ideological divide and fragmented opposition.
“Religious parties have their own stance and they take issues somewhat differently,” Sherpao said. However, he admitted that major political parties did not play their role in uniting on one platform.
“There cannot be a common stance on any issue, unless all forces agree to some basic things, whether it is Nato supplies or the energy crisis,” he added.
Provincial general secretary of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Rehmat Salam Khattak, said it is unfortunate that political forces inside and outside parliament were not together on the matter. There are some vested interests on the political front, which do not allow for a joint response from the opposition, he said.
“PML-N has been playing its role as an active opposition in the assembly,” he said when asked why his party was not taking the initiative.
PTI’s Shah Farman said there should be an all parties conference to chalk out an opposition strategy. Our position is clear and we have arranged sit-in’s and protests across the country while inviting other parties as well, he said.
But when one party joins another for a protest, then it seems that it has given up its own stance, which could be a reason for the divided response.
“We will try to get all political and religious forces on board, regardless of their differences,” said JI leader from Fata, Amir Haroon Rashid.