PCNS to finalise recommendations on reviewing US ties by Friday

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The absence of Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh from the second consecutive meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) on Tuesday perturbed its members, and Committee Chairman Raza Rabbani had to assure them that the minister would attend the session today (Wednesday). A source told Pakistan Today that the committee members were unhappy with the minister for delaying the briefing on the financial impact of a possible cut in US aid if Pakistan decides to close NATO supply routes permanently. “Despite having no briefing on the financial impact of permanently closing down NATO supply lines, we have made headway in finalising the recommendations on the new terms of engagements with NATO and ISAF forces which might be given a final shape by Friday,” said the source.
Talking to journalists after the meeting at the Parliament House, Rabbani said the committee would soon finalise its recommendations regarding the new terms of engagements with the United States in the wake of NATO strikes on Pakistani check posts in Mohmand Agency that killed 24 soldiers. “The committee discussed the draft prepared by the committee secretariat on the basis of the recommendations by the committee members,” the PCNS chairman said. He said the committee members were given copies of the drafted recommendations, which were to be finalised on Tuesday, but they would now be concluded on Wednesday. He said the committee had also sought input from the political leadership and the ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs. He said the secretaries of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence had held meetings with relevant stakeholders and had sent their recommendations to the committee.
Rabbani said the finance minister and secretary could not attend the committee meetings because of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting. He added that they would give their input later which would be incorporated in the final recommendations. He said the committee would take into consideration the input of all stakeholders on the NATO issue before sending its final recommendations to the prime minister for presentation in the joint sitting of the parliament. The committee also held meetings with the stakeholders and discussed 63 recommendations, Rabbani said. Responding to a question, the committee chairman said the option of permanently closing down NATO supply routes was also under consideration.