Pak Senate rejects US offer for NATO briefing on Afghan situation

November 14th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Islamabad, Nov 14 (ANI): The Pakistan Senate has reportedly rejected the US embassy’’s invitation for the Senate Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee to attend a key NATO briefing on the current situation in Afghanistan. The briefing is to be given by General David McKiernan, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The House said that the invitation was not in keeping with the best traditions of diplomatic engagement and political dialogue.

The US embassy had written separate letters to members of the 17-member special parliamentary committee on national security, with an invitation to attend a briefing on November 13.

Senator Professor Khurshid, a member of the special parliamentary committee, replied to the US embassy that he could not attend this programme not only because the notice period was too short, but also because he felt uncomfortable about the NATO commander briefing to the Pakistani parliamentarians.

He said efforts like this smack of lobbying, and hoped that NATO had contacted the Foreign Office to arrange for such a thing provided the government also felt such a need.

Replying to a point of order raised by Senator Khurshid Ahmed, Leader of the House Raza Rabbani said that foreign missions in Pakistan should observe diplomatic norms and route their requests for briefings to parliamentarians through the Foreign Office.

I totally agree with Professor Khurshid … it is advisable that all the foreign missions functioning in Pakistan follow the prescribed channel for contacting parliamentarians for such an engagement, the Daily Times quoted Rabbani as saying.

It was not happening for the first time, he said and added: A couple of months ago, some diplomats were invited to a same kind of briefing, and at that time too, the Foreign Office was bypassed.

He said that the Foreign Office would be asked to inform the foreign missions to follow prescribed procedures. (ANI)

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