Pakistan’s parliament has unanimously passed a 14-point resolution on combating the rise of terrorism and extremism. The document is being hailed by Information Minister Sherry Rehman as a “major signal for terrorists that our nation rejects their agendas,” but it falls short on a plan to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda’s grip on power in the violent northwest.
The resolution was passed by parliament at the end of a two-week-long joint session where the main focus was the deteriorating security situation in the country. After numerous briefings from senior leaders in the military, intelligence services, police, and government officials, a panel made up of representatives from Pakistan’s 16 major parties drafted the agreement.
The government aimed for “consensus” to grant legitimacy to the resolution. To get it, Rehman had to sign the agreement. This led to a vague resolution that does not define the “extremists” and “militants,” and places the emphasis on talks.
The 14-point resolution is long on calls for negotiations and short on calls for action. The document stresses “dialogue” while barely making mention of the need to dislodge the Taliban through a concerted counterinsurgency campaign.
“Dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution,” the document states. “Dialogue will be encouraged with all those elements willing to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and rule of law.” The resolution has no discussion of what to do if dialogue fails.
While Pakistan “stands united to combat this growing menace,” it is to be done through “a strong public message condemning all forms and manifestations of terrorism….” The government is asked to restore its writ, immediately withdraw the military from the region and replace them with local security forces.
The parliament said Pakistan cannot be used as a launch pad to attack neighboring countries, and that “foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from our soil.” In a reference to recent US strikes in the tribal areas, the resolution says Pakistan’s territorial integrity must be protected at all costs.
The Pakistani government has touted the resolution as a major achievement. “The October 22 resolution is a new chapter in the parliamentary history of Pakistan,” said Rehman. “After a long time, this is a major national policy that has the endorsement of all political forces … all parliamentary forces arose above party lines to put a united front against the most important threat to our national security and the resolution closes the chapter on any ambiguities on this issue.”
Full text of the resolution, from the Associated Press of Pakistan:
This in-camera joint session of Parliament has noted with great concern that pose a grave danger to the stability and integrity of the nation-state. It was recalled that in the past the dictatorial regimes pursued policies aimed at perpetuating their own power at the cost of national interest.
This House, having considered the issue thoroughly and at great length is of the view that in terms of framing laws, building institutions, protecting our citizens from violence, eradication of terror at its roots, re-building our economy and developing opportunities for the disadvantaged, we all commit to the following:
1.That we need an urgent review of our national security strategy and revisiting the methodology of combating terrorism in order to restore peace and stability to Pakistan and the region through an independent foreign policy.
2.The challenge of militancy and extremism must be met through developing a consensus and dialogue with all genuine stakeholders.
3.The nation stands united to combat this growing menace, with a strong public message condemning all forms and manifestations of terrorism, including the spread of sectarian hatred and violence, with a firm resolve to combat it and to address its root causes.
4.That Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity shall be safeguarded. The nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively.
5.That Pakistan’s territory shall not be used for any kind of attacks on other countries and all foreign fighters, if found, shall be expelled from our soil.
6.That dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution. Dialogue will be encouraged with all those elements willing to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and rule of law.
7.That the development of troubled zones, particularly the tribal areas, and NWFP (Pukhtoonkhwa), must also be pursued through all possible ways and legitimate means to create genuine stakeholders in peace. New economic opportunities shall be created in order to bring the less privileged areas at par with the rest of Pakistan.
8.That a political dialogue with the people of Balochistan, the redressal of grievances and redistribution of resources shall be enhanced and accelerated.
9. That the state shall maintain the rule of law, and that when it has to intervene to protect the lives of its citizens, caution must be exercised to avoid casualties of non-combatants in conflict zones.
10.That the federation must be strengthened through the process of democratic pluralism, social justice, religious values and tolerance, and equitable resource sharing between the provinces as enshrined in the Constitution of 1973.
11.That the state shall establish its writ in the troubled zones, and confidence building mechanisms by using customary and local communities (jirga) and that the military will be replaced as early as possible by civilian law enforcement agencies with enhanced capacity and a sustainable political system achieved through a consultative process.
12.That Pakistan’s strategic interests be protected by developing stakes in regional peace and trade, both on the western and eastern borders.
13. That mechanisms for internal security be institutionalised by: paying compensation for victims of violence; and rehabilitate those displaced from their homes as soon as possible; that spill-over effects of terrorism be contained throughout the country and that public consensus be built against terrorism through media and religious participation.
14.That a Special Committee of Parliament be constituted to periodically review, provide guidelines and monitor the implementation of the principles framed and roadmap given in this Resolution. This House authorises the Speaker to constitute the said Committee in consultation with the parliamentary leaders of both Houses. The Committee will frame its own rules upon meeting.
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