ISLAMABAD: Changing their strategy to respond to the US President Donald Trump’s outburst against Pakistan, the parliamentary leaders have decided not to convene a special session of parliament. However, they will meet again next week to get a briefing from security brass.
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security was given an in-camera briefing on Thursday on the ongoing diplomatic row between the two countries following Trump’s allegations that US has ‘foolishly’ given $33 billion in aid to Pakistan but in return Pakistan has provided safe havens to terrorists..
Besides Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua also briefed the participants on the latest situation. The attendees included lawmakers from treasury and opposition benches.
The in-camera meeting, headed by the National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, was also attended by Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir, the defence secretary and the secretary of the Interior Ministry.
According to sources, the parliamentary leaders from both houses of parliament expressed unity in the backdrop of the unprecedented rift in Pakistan-USA relations, rejected Trump’s allegations and vowed not to compromise on the matter of national security.
The committee decided to call another meeting to get input from the representatives of defence institutions. It was also agreed that a future strategy be devised after getting input from the military top brass and the Ministry of Finance.
Briefing the committee, Asif said the US was speaking the language of India. “Pakistan wants to resolve the matter with negotiations and the patience of the country should not be taken as its weakness. The US is making Pakistan a scapegoat for its failure in winning the war in Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying.
The NA speaker afterwards told the media that the parliamentary committee concluded that the reasons behind such US statements were needed to be reviewed. “A balanced response, wherein the country’s dignity is maintained, is needed while engaging with the US,” he added.
Sadiq said during the meeting the committee’s members tried to understand the situation, its recent background and future strategy. “This is a sensitive issue and no such statement will be made on it which may be harmful for the country.”
He said there were some matters which were clarified in the meeting and all the parties showed unity over the issue. He said the questions which arose during the meeting would be reviewed in the follow-up meeting. The security institutions will also be called in the next meeting of the committee.
“The committee has decided to reconvene its meeting next week, either on January 11 or 12. Everyone wanted a follow-up meeting to chalk out the plan to counter any eventuality,” he added.
After attending the meeting and talking to the media persons, the MQM-Pakistan chief Dr Farooq Sattar said Pakistan is faced with serious challenges.
The USA might be a superpower but the zeal of the general public over here is no less than that of a superpower, he added. He laid stress on strengthening the national economy and foreign diplomacy besides adopting long-term policies to face these challenges.
The PPP’s Sherry Rehman said new doors open when some doors are closed. She said it was about time Pakistan reviewed its policy with regard to its relations with the US.
Shaikh Rashid said Pakistan is not a banana republic and things should not be taken negatively. He added that any adventurism will be responded to in a befitting manner.