17 November 2009 - PAKISTAN SHOULD BE HIGHER ON THE AGENDA OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, SAYS NATO PA REPORT
The importance of Pakistan for regional and international security should not be underestimated, according to a report prepared by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Both NATO and the EU should engage more closely with Pakistan and neighbouring countries to help prevent the spread of instability in the country and further afield, said US Congressman Mike Ross in Edinburgh on Saturday. In his capacity as Rapporteur, Ross presented the report to the Assembly’s Political Committee, as the Assembly convened for its 55th session in the Scottish capital.
The report also notes that the Pakistani authorities must act decisively to improve the security situation of their country. Ross suggested that international aid to Pakistan should be made dependent on “Pakistan’s willingness to stand up to the Taliban” and on continued cooperation with NATO in the region. He recognised that the Pakistani authorities “have undertaken earnest efforts to engage the insurgency within their country” but stressed that Islamabad needs to “devise and implement a more effective and co-ordinated policy to defeat both the Afghan and the Pakistani Taliban residing within their borders”.
Representatives of the Pakistani delegation refuted the questioning of Islamabad’s resolve against the Afghan Taliban. “We have sacrificed a lot” in the fight against the insurgents, said the head of the delegation Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, who went on to underline the achievements and progress of the military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He also welcomed the possibility of “more cooperation” with Afghanistan, including “the sharing of intelligence”.
On a military level, the cooperation between Pakistan and NATO “has improved” said Ross, but NATO could do more, for example by increasing the number of Partnership for Peace activities available. The Allies can also “help educating and training the police and local administration - which would significantly contribute to national and regional security”, added Canadian Senator Raynell Andreychuk, the Political Committee’s General Rapporteur.
Diplomatic efforts by NATO and other international actors in the region could usefully be expanded to include other regional actors such as India, China, Russia “and – if it is willing to play a constructive role – perhaps also Iran” said Ross. This suggestion was supported by the Russian delegation, who felt that it would be “difficult to do anything” constructive in the region without Iranian involvement.
Little concern was raised regarding Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, despite its proximity to the unstable border regions. The measures put in place by the Pakistani authorities were seen as adequate by the delegates.