The Pakistani Parliament is demanding an unconditional apology from the U.S. government for its drone missile attacks, which have killed not only Pakistani soldiers last November, but also uncounted civilians.
Islamabad also wants an end to U.S. drone strikes, which leaders say have caused more damage than any benefit they are yielding.
“Pakistan wants to pursue good relations with every country. Pakistan also wants to pursue its own national interests,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told reporters in Islamabad.
U.S. officials have offered their “regret” over the deaths caused by drones, but never a formal apology.
In response to the November strike that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers, Pakistan’s government sealed off crucial NATO supply lines into Afghanistan.
The Pakistani parliamentary session may determine whether the government reopens those supply lines, reported Dawn, the English-language Pakistani newspaper.
Gen. James Mattis, a senior U.S. military official, said he plans to visit Pakistan to discuss reopening the supply routes.
Sen. Raza Rabbani, chairman of a parliamentary committee on national security, said those individuals responsible for the drone attack that killed 24 soldiers should be punished. He also suggested that the use of Pakistani military bases and airspace by foreign forces be subject to parliamentary approval.
“This is the first time that the Parliament of Pakistan has been given responsibility to frame foreign policy,” he said. “The U.S. must review its footprints in Pakistan. This means the cessation of drone strikes inside Pakistan.”
Washington does not publicly comment on its secret drone missions, but U.S. forces have reportedly used such strikes frequently to target militant groups who are believed to reside in the wild borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In addition, in an apparent reference to the U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden last May in a garrison town near Islamabad, a parliamentary committee also declared that Pakistan will not permit any foreign covert military operations within its borders.
The United States is likely closing watching these developments in Pakistan, since it needs the country’s support as it tries to gradually extricate its troops from neighboring Afghanistan.