Prime Minister’s opening remarks at Parliamentary Committee on National Security
Islamabad: The Parliamentary Committee on National Security met here today under the chairmanship of Senator Raza Rabbani which was attended by the Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani along with Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Interior, Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Information and Broadcasting and senior officials of the relevant ministries.
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister thanked Chairman Senator Raza Rabbani, and members of the Committee for convening the meeting to consider the NATO/ISAF attacks on Pakistan border posts in the Mohmand Agency on 26th November 2011which caused the loss of precious lives of our brave soldiers.
Following is the text of Prime Minister’s statement: –
I would like to thank the Chairman and Members of this Committee for convening this meeting to consider the NATO/ISAF attacks on Pakistani border posts in the Mohmand Agency on 26 November 2011, which caused the loss of precious lives of our brave soldiers.
These dastardly attacks in the dead of night cannot but be construed as a grave infringement of Pakistan’s territorial frontiers by NATO/ISAF and definitely compel us to re-visit our National Security paradigm. These attacks also have serious implications for regional peace and security.
I, therefore, deemed it important that this Committee undertake an in-depth examination of the situation arising from these attacks.
The Federal Cabinet, which met in Lahore on 29 November, concurred and recommended that this Committee should deliberate on this issue and submit its recommendations to the Joint Sitting of the Parliament.
The Parliament represents not only the will of the people of Pakistan but, in every respect, is also the custodian of Pakistan’s supreme national interests.
Let me now briefly recount the salient developments:
As you know, in the early hours of 26 November – in fact just past the midnight – two Pakistan Army posts in Mohmand Agency were subjected to air attacks by the US/NATO/ISAF. These positions were well inside Pakistani territory.
Hostile actions against these border posts continued for over an hour. The coordinates of these border posts were known to NATO/ISAF.
In fact, minutes after the attack commenced, our military authorities contacted the US/NATO and Border Coordination Centre. The coordination mechanism remained ineffective. Relief and reinforcements sent from the nearby Pakistani posts also came under attack.
I was informed immediately about these attacks and although being in Multan, remained in close contact with the military high command. I also decided to immediately call an emergency meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet the same evening. I also directed the Foreign Ministry to lodge strong protests with the United States, NATO Headquarters at Brussels and with the Afghan government.
The Government of Pakistan strongly condemned these attacks, which were violative of the principles of the UN Charter and international law. We also conveyed to the United States and NATO that these attacks were totally unacceptable and constituted a flagrant breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Pakistan’s Red Lines i.e. no infringement of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty had been made abundantly clear to the United States, NATO and ISAF. We also conveyed, in no uncertain terms, to the United States and NATO that these attacks would have consequences.
The Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which met at the Prime Minister’s House in the evening of 26 November strongly condemned the attacks.
The DCC reiterated the resolve of the Pakistani people and Armed Forces to safeguard Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity at all costs.
The DCC noted that these attacks had gravely dented the fundamental basis of Pakistan’s cooperation with NATO/ISAF against militancy and terror. The attacks were totally unacceptable and warrant an effective response.
In accordance with the Resolution of the Joint Session of the Parliament of 14 May 2011, the DCC decided to close, with immediate effect, the NATO/ISAF logistics supply lines.
The DCC also decided to ask the United States to vacate the Shamsi Airbase within fifteen days. A notice to this effect has already been given to the United States.
The DCC decided that the Government will revisit and undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with the United States/NATO/ISAF, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence.
The DCC also decided that the Parliament shall be taken into confidence on the whole range of measures regarding matters relating to Pakistan’s future cooperation with the United States/NATO/ISAF.
The Federal Cabinet, at its meeting on 29 November, also condemned the NATO/ISAF attacks and termed them as an assault on the sovereignty of Pakistan. The Cabinet unanimously endorsed the statement and the decisions of the DCC emergency meeting.
The Cabinet called upon the international community to take due cognizance of such attacks, which constitute a violation of the UN Charter principles, international law and could have serious repercussions for regional peace and that all sides exercise utmost restraint.
While wishing the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan success, the Cabinet decided that Pakistan should not participate in the Bonn Conference due to the prevailing circumstances.
Our Permanent Representative in New York was instructed to bring the matter to the urgent attention of the UN Secretary General and have the DCC statement circulated as an official document of the Security Council and General Assembly.
Pakistan Missions abroad have also sensitized the international community. The Foreign Minister established contact on telephone with US Secretary of State Clinton as well as the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Russian Federation, China, Germany, United Kingdom and Italy, among others.
I also conveyed our concerns to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai who telephoned on 28 and 30 November respectively.
Expressions of regret and condolences have been received from members of the international community. United States and NATO have also conveyed that they have ordered investigation into the incident.
Given the gravity of the situation, it is imperative to undertake a holistic review of National Security and the future of our cooperation with the United States/NATO.
This is an extremely important task that must be carried out by the Parliament and, in the first place, by this Committee.
Allow me now to give you the Government’s perspective:
First and foremost, our national interests are supreme.
All policies, positions and actions should conform to safeguarding and advancing of Pakistan’s national interests.
The safeguarding of Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity is a sacred national duty. Under no circumstances can this be compromised – no matter what the costs.
Security and stability and ensuring the prosperity of our people are among our foremost priorities.
Regional security and stability and good relations with all neighbours is important.
Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community, attaches utmost importance to respect for the principles of the UN Charter, norms of inter-state conduct and international law.
A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s national interest.
Pakistan has been impacted severely by the conflict and turmoil in Afghanistan.
Besides the huge caseload of Afghan refugees, which runs into millions, we have been directly impacted by militancy and terrorism.
Terrorism has cost thousands of lives of our innocent citizens and security and armed forces personnel. The economic costs have been astounding.
Countering terrorism is a national priority and the whole nation is determined to eliminate this menace from our society and the region.
Elimination of the menace of terrorism requires a comprehensive approach, as signified by our 3-Ds (Dialogue, Development and Deterrence).
Our security and counter-terrorism policy needs to be pursued in a manner that suits Pakistan’s national interests.
The only effective way forward is to have complete unity in our ranks and total support of the people of Pakistan.
I regret to note that our willingness to cooperate with the international community on counter terrorism has not been understood in its proper perspective.
The notion to give Pakistan a “to do” list and the mantra of “do more” have caused immense resentment.
In recent months, there has been a tendency to project Pakistan not as a “partner” but as the “problem”.
Our enormous sacrifices and contribution in the campaign against militancy and terror have not been adequately acknowledged. What is worse is the tendency to make Pakistan into a scapegoat for failings of international policies in Afghanistan.
While Pakistan continued to protest against the drone attacks, which are clearly illegal and counterproductive, we have also been subjected to numerous cross-border attacks by militants from sanctuaries and safe havens in Afghanistan.
Our efforts to improve our relations with Afghanistan and support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned efforts for reconciliation and peace have been misconstrued and actively subverted by certain quarters.
Clearly, there is a limit to our patience. Cooperation cannot be a one-way street.
Under these most challenging and difficult circumstances, Pakistan has maintained a principled approach and exercised utmost restraint.
However, it would be a grave miscalculation for anyone to believe that stability and peace in Afghanistan can be restored or maintained by destabilizing Pakistan.
Under no circumstances, will we allow Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to be jeopardized by ill-considered and rash actions such as the attacks on our territory by NATO/ISAF.
Our patriotic people and valiant Armed Forces will spare no sacrifice in the defence of their motherland.
Instructions have been issued to all units of the Pakistan Armed Forces to respond, with full force, to any act of aggression and infringement of Pakistan’s territorial frontiers.
The need of the hour is total unity.
Our Nation, as a whole, and all State institutions are fully united and determined in their resolve to uphold national dignity and honour and to frustrate and defeat any nefarious designs against Pakistan.
I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to underscore, once again, that Pakistan, as a responsible State, is ready to make its indispensable contribution to regional peace and security, in particular to support an inclusive process of national reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.
We have repeatedly stated that stability and peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s national interest. We have participated and supported initiatives for peace in Afghanistan and the concept of regional economic cooperation.
We believe that the way forward is to make honest efforts to get clarity and develop coherence, especially among Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States for instituting a credible process for a durable political settlement that guarantees the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and respect for the principles of non-intervention and non-interference.
Our continued cooperation in this regard can only be premised on a partnership approach that is consistent with Pakistan’s national interests and scrupulous respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and absolutely zero tolerance for any transgression against Pakistan’s state frontiers.
Pakistan does not seek aid or economic assistance from the United States. What we seek, in fact demand, is respect for our sovereignty and territorial integrity; a firm and categorical commitment on “inviolability” of Pakistan’s borders and on non-recurrence of such incidents.
The terms of our engagement with the United States and NATO/ISAF have to be re-visited on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual interest and mutual respect. I look forward to your recommendations in this regard.
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