ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties came down hard on the government for “not having a definite foreign policy” when dealing with the neighbouring countries.
Speaking on a motion moved by PPP’s MP Shahida Rehmani seeking discussion on the country’s foreign policy, lawmakers in the lower house of parliament strongly criticised the government for not appointing a foreign minister. They believe that owing to a weak foreign policy Pakistan is being isolated and relations with the neighbouring countries are turning sour.
Rehmani said Pakistan was being isolated internationally because it had no foreign minister for the last four years to represent the country. “Pakistan’s relations with its neighbouring countries are deteriorating. Even relations with Iran are on a downward trajectory while India is threatening Pakistan with water aggression,” she added. “The government, on the other hand, is projecting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the solution to every issue.”
PTI lawmaker Dr Shirin Mazari, when given the floor, demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf explained Pakistan’s foreign policy with India. “If borders with Afghanistan are sealed because the government believes the Afghan soil is being used for launching terrorist attacks in Pakistan then the Wagah border should also be closed,” she said.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah said Pakistan was in a critical phase and unfortunately did not have a permanent foreign minister. “Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan are a major concern,” he said, adding that a peaceful Afghanistan would ensure a peaceful Pakistan.
JUIF’s Naeema Kishwar Khan went to the extent of asking if the government had any foreign policy at all. “Pakistan had the second safest border with Afghanistan which has now become unsafe. If we conduct surgical strikes in Afghanistan then they will be retaliated in a similar way,” she added. “Afghanistan is Pakistan’s neighbour and nothing could change that.”
Khan said that accepting Afghanistan as a sovereign state would resolve most of Pakistan’s problems. “There is also a need to review our stand on the Kashmir dispute.”
MQM’s Shaikh Salahuddin stressed the need for the country’s image building in the international community.
PPP’s Shazia Marri said the government contradicted its own stance as the foreign minister supported the idea of closing borders with Afghanistan while the federal defence minister [Khawaja Asif] has an entirely different point of view.
Jamshed Dasti said that owing to his old age, PM’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz could not travel on long distances. He went on to say that Aziz normally had a fever of 104˚. This prompted Deputy Speaker NA Javed Abbasi, who was officiating the session, to inquire from Dasti that how did he know that.
Dasti also criticised the government for deploying too many security forces personnel for the final of Pakistan Super League in Lahore.
PML-N MPs, on the other hand, tried their best to defuse the situation and defended the government on foreign policy matters.
SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch said that since its inception Pakistan has never had good relations with Afghanistan. “Terrorists come from across the border and as Pakistan cannot conduct operations against terrorists in Afghanistan so sealing the border becomes the only option,” he said.
He also defended Aziz as one of the few people who are competent.
In other proceedings, the lower house transacted most of private members’ business, including 15 bills and five resolutions.