ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's parliament unanimously approved new guidelines for the country Thursday in its troubled relationship with the United States, a decision that could pave the way for the reopening of supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The guidelines allow for the blockade on U.S. and NATO supplies to be lifted, but also call for an immediate end to American drone strikes against militants on Pakistani soil. However, the lawmakers did not make a halt in the CIA-led missile attacks a prerequisite to reopening the supply lines, as some lawmakers had been demanding.
The government and the army will use the recommendations as the basis for re-engaging with Washington. Ties between the United States and Pakistan all but collapsed in November after U.S. airstrikes inadvertently killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border, after which Islamabad blocked the supply lines. Washington wants the relationship back on track.
"We seek a relationship with Pakistan that is enduring, strategic, and more clearly defined," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "We look forward to discussing these policy recommendations."
About 30 percent of supplies used by NATO and U.S. troops in landlocked Afghanistan are transported through Pakistan. Washington also needs Islamabad's cooperation to negotiate an end to the Afghan war because many insurgent leaders are based on Pakistani soil.
The drones are a source of popular outrage in the country and have fueled anti-U.S. sentiment, although Pakistan's powerful army has tacitly aided the missile attacks in the past. Washington has ignored previous entreaties by the parliament to end the strikes, and is seen as unlikely to change its policy now. -- AP