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Pakistan committee calls for end to U.S. drone strikes

By Nasir Habib and Reza Sayah, CNN
updated 8:10 AM EDT, Tue March 20, 2012
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani created the Parliamentary Committee on National Security last November.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani created the Parliamentary Committee on National Security last November.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Committee calls for U.S. to halt drone strikes inside Pakistan
  • It also demands apology for airstrikes that killed Pakistani soldiers
  • Lawmakers will study the document before debating it next week
  • The committee studied how to engage with the United States

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The United States should stop drone strikes inside Pakistani territory and apologize unconditionally for airstrikes last year that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers, a special committee recommended in a report to Pakistan's parliament on Tuesday.

"No overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be tolerated," the committee's report said.

Copies of the recommendations for new terms of engagement with the United States were distributed to lawmakers Tuesday. The joint session of parliament to debate the document was adjourned until Monday to allow legislators time to study its conclusions.

Calling on the Pakistani government to ensure that "the principles of an independent foreign policy" are observed, the report said that the United States "must review its footprints in Pakistan."

The three key points it listed in that regard were the cessation of drone strikes inside Pakistani borders, "no hot pursuit or boots on Pakistani territory" and the need for the activities of foreign private security contractors to be "transparent and subject to Pakistani law."

Amid huge domestic and military pressure after NATO airstrikes on the Pakistani-Afghan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani created the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, a group of 18 members of parliament responsible for reviewing relations with the United States.

The committee's report demanded an "unconditional apology from the United States for the unprovoked incident dated 25th-26th November 2011." It also said that those responsible for the airstrikes should be brought to justice.

The committee forwarded its recommendations to the government about a month ago.

"We kept in mind both the angles, domestic demands and the requirement by the international community, while compiling our recommendations," Hiader Abbas Rizvi, a committee member, said ahead of the report's release. "We were optimistic, progressive, but of course patriotic Pakistanis at the end while we were compiling the recommendations."

Rizvi said he expected the recommendations to be approved, but not before several days of debate.

President Asif Ali Zardari, in an address to parliament Saturday, described 2011 as a "challenging year" in the "multi-dimensional and important" relationship between his country and the United States.

"We seek to engage meaningfully with the U.S. on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect," Zardari said. Referring to the parliamentary committee, he said, "we are looking forward to your recommendations for re-engaging with the United States."

CNN's Shaan Khan and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

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