Pakistan must ask US for nuclear deal, says Sen Khawaja
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Citing the India-United States nuclear deal as a precedent, Pakistan must urge the United States for extending similar assistance to it for meeting the country’s growing energy needs, Pakistan People’s Party Senator Akbar Khawaja told Daily Times.
Khawaja said the government should bring into confidence all parliamentarians on such national issues, no less than the leaders of the mainstream parties living in exile. He said the Indo-US deal could have an adverse effect on Pakistan’s future relationship with India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states. This shift in US policy had also brought new pressures to bear on Pakistan’s civil and military assets.
The PPP lawmaker said collective efforts are necessary to deal with challenges facing the nation today such as perceptions of terrorism, human rights abuses, economic deprivation of the people and the disturbing spread of poverty. There are suspicions among Pakistan’s Western allies that Genenral Pervez Musharraf’s support for the war against terrorism may not be as sincere as he makes it out to be and that his government is unwilling to bring political stability to the country or to improve its democratic and human rights credentials. He pointed out the 7/7 bombings in London, expatriate communities of Pakistanis in the United Kingdom and the United States were experiencing greater difficulties because of the widespread perception that the roots of Islamist militancy lie in Pakistan.
Turning to the ongoing local council election process, Senator Khawaja said there was a perception among the general population that there has been “pre-poll rigging.” The fact has to be faced that rising unemployment and poverty, coupled with frustration over corruption, is driving the young towards extremism. The human rights situation in country is worsening. Crackdowns on political opponents, the media and civil society have only sharpened the focus on these issue. There is much criticism of the fairness and even-handedness of the of the accountability process. Public confidence in the judicial system is waning rapidly. Concerns are being raised about the effectiveness of the position of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who appears to be stuck in a loop given the inordinate delay in the NFC award. This situation will prove to be untenable, he added.
Khawaja stressed that Pakistan’s socio-economic agenda is heavily dependent on its Western allies. As such, stronger measures were needed to mount effective collective responses to the evolving threats by bringing in basic changes to the present system, he said. In addition to the suppression of extremist group, the country must take measures to improve the national image. Some of the steps needed in that area are: reform of the judicial system to ensure supremacy of the rule of law, amendment of the
NAB ordinance, including the institution of norms of accountability at all levels, strengthening of parliamentary governance through an effective committee system, reform of the Election Commission, enhancement of the socio-economic effectiveness of all policies, programmes and practices, and, finally, the bringing about of a grand national reconciliation so that Pakistan can move forward as a nation united, not a nation divided, as at present it is, he said.