The parliamentary committee on national security on Friday urged the government to redesign the country’s foreign policy with a greater emphasis on regionalism and cooperation with its neighbours.
In a closed-door session of the committee in Islamabad, the committee is reported to have spent much of its time questioning State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar on the country’s foreign policy with respect to the United States, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
Khar, however, said that the government is focused on expanding its ties with China, India, Iran and Afghanistan in what is likely to be a break from the past when the country’s alliance structures often led to tensions with one or more of its neighbours.
However, sources close to the committee’s discussions suggest that Pakistan’s policy may be focused on assisting China in expanding its role in the region.
Committee members are reported to have been dissatisfied with current policy though most were unwilling to comment on the record as to what their reservations were about Pakistan’s foreign policy. Of the 17 members of the committee, only nine were in attendance in Friday’s session.
One subject that did come under discussion was that of US drone strikes on Pakistani territory, which are almost uniformly opposed across the Pakistani political spectrum. The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been trying to play a balancing act between those pubic concerns and maintaining a relationship with the United States.
“Islamabad attaches immense importance to promoting relations with Washington and would like to resolve this issue through diplomatic channels,” said Senator Raza Rabbani of the PPP. “We summoned [US Ambassador] Cameron Munter and recorded our protest about the drone attacks.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2011.
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