President calls 2011 a "challenging year" for the two countries
Pakistan's parliament will convene Tuesday
They will debate the recommendations of a special committee
The committee studied how to engage with the United States
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.
The parliament will debate the recommendations of a special commission and will vote whether to accept them or not, spokesman Akram Shaheedi said.
Amid huge domestic and military pressure after NATO airstrikes on the Pakistani-Afghan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, Pakistani 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.
“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.”
Zardari’s speech mostly focused on domestic issues, including energy and inflation.
Opposition lawmakers shouted during the leader’s speech and said, “End the corruption!” and “Stop the lies!”
The president’s supporters slapped their desks, a customary sign of support in parliament.
After 20 minutes of protest, members of the opposition walked out.