Parliamentarians forge unity against new US policy

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ISLAMABAD: Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum on Wednesday collectively raised their voice against the new US policy for the region.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah proposed calling a Joint Session of Parliament after Eid so a ‘strong’ response can be given to the US policy.
The opposition leader termed US President Donald Trump’s new policy statement for Pakistan of ‘huge significance’. He was speaking in the National Assembly during its 45th session.
He blamed the country’s foreign policy ‘failure’ over the past four years on the government’s decision to not have a dedicated separate foreign minister. “Our foreign minister should have started today’s debate in the assembly,” he argued.
Shah also criticised Pakistan’s poor relations with most of its neighbours, saying “our neighbours hurl threats at us”.
The Pakistan Peoples Party’s senior leader came down hard on former ambassador Abdul Basit’s scathing letter to Pakistan’s envoy in US Aizaz Chaudhry. “This is a failure of governance,” said Shah.
Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar in the session said that the issue of US’ continued criticism on Pakistan will not stop by mere resolutions and condemnations and needs a major overhaul of the entire narrative towards the US.
Severely criticising the US, Nisar that US’ policy in the region has failed miserably, saying that Pakistan is not responsible for its failures.
“US did not ask Pakistan before going to Afghanistan,” he said, adding that US has held talks with the Taliban in the region but “all hell breaks loose” when Pakistan wants to do the same.
He reiterated that Pakistan should not take the path of confrontation, and bring arguments based on facts and reason.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he has not seen the unity he is witnessing today in the National Assembly.
The former foreign minister appreciated the government’s decision to consult regional allies after Trump’s speech, but added that the government should also seek Iran’s assistance in the matter, as suggested by Nisar.
“As foreign minister, I know how difficult it was to get reimbursements under the Coalition Support Fund from the US,” he stressed, referring to a similar statement from Nisar.
Qureshi said Trump’s own earlier statements contradict his present positions on the issue. He termed the US government’s taking on board of New Delhi to get to Afghanistan a ‘red line’. In a fiery fashion, he said Pakistan does not want to fight America but also will not bow down to it.
He recalled that former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, a ‘favourite’ of the US, has also rejected Trump’s policy. “I ask Trump, do you not see the safe-havens in eastern Afghanistan,” said Qureshi.
He also questioned Trump who scuttled Pakistan’s efforts to ensure better border management with Afghanistan. “The international community has forgotten the Afghan refugees in Pakistan,” he said, adding “how much is the US assisting in aiding those refugees”.
He called out Trump’s comments on terror funding, saying does Trump not see the vast poppy fields in Afghanistan that fund terrorism.
The PTI leader criticised India’s ‘continued opposition’ to resolving bilateral issues, including Kashmir, through dialogue.
In conclusion, he said it is not Pakistan’s policy to see the “Talibanisation of Afghanistan”, as it is not the government’s policy to see the Talibanisation of Pakistan. “I see a lot of Indian ingress in the US Congress,” he shared further.
Earlier, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed also addressed the assembly. He too criticised Basit’s letter, saying it was embarrassing to see news of it in the media. He suggested the government should open backdoor diplomacy with the US.
Shireen Mazari speaking in the session attacked Europe and US, saying they themselves are providing safe havens to extremist elements in their territories and Pakistan should not ignore this.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also briefly addressed the session, followed by other lawmakers.

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