Khawaja Asif bashes govt over diplomatic faux pas

Published: September 27, 2018
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Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif castigated the government for "failures" on several occasions during their short reign. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif castigated the government for "failures" on several occasions during their short reign. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif came down hard on the government for letting the country down by ‘mishandling’ its foreign policy front with ‘back to back blunders.’

Asif was speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday as part of discussion on the mini-budget and castigated the government for “failures” on several occasions during their short reign.

“It is unbecoming of a responsible state, issuing statements on different issues which exposed the nation to embarrassment,” Asif said adding that except shame, the government has earned nothing more by the way it had handled foreign policy in its one-month tenure.

“By exhibiting its amateurish strategies the govt has given a setback to Pakistan’s integrity,” said the former foreign minister.

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He added that it was announced Pakistan and the United States were heading towards a ‘reset’ in ties but the reality of this claim became evident in less than 24 hours when a joint press release was issued in India. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met his Indian counterpart and language of this statement was anti-Pakistan. “They blamed us for terrorism,” he said.

Similarly, he said the reply to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s letter from his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi also brought nothing but shame as it was derogatory while another diplomatic blunder came to light when it was announced French President Emmanuel Macron had called the prime minister while such event had never taken place.

“Pompeo telephoned the PM to congratulate him, local officials claimed terrorism was not discussed but transcript released by the US denied the claim,” highlighted Asif. Talking about the premier’s first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia, he noted it was announced that $10 billion were promised (to Pakistan) but later the government contradicted its own statement.

“Never any government managed to bring so much disappointment in such a short span of time,” stated the PML-N leader.

Asif recounted another episode where the PTI-led government created confusion on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by giving statements such as “rethinking, re-evaluating” the project. He then lashed out at PM Imran for his “irresponsible” statement regarding citizenship of refugees. “First an announcement was made then it was said advice would be sought,” he reminded the House.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari replied to Asif’s speech and said for four years they did not have any foreign policy and all of a sudden they have realised its importance.

She said positive vibes were coming from different countries with good gestures. “It is now new dawn of the foreign policy and the former minister should admit that at least a policy is being made.”

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“Iran showed positive response on Pakistani prisoners held in jails due to drug related cases while for the first time the United Kingdom showed willingness to work on cases of money-laundering,” said Mazari counting the government’s policy wins.

She also assured the federal government is ready to discuss foreign policy and all other issues but without political point scoring.

Meanwhile, Balochistan National Party-Mengal chief Akhtar Mengal also said his province needs health, education and development and not military cantonments.

He demanded making details of all projects of CPEC public asking “what is there which we should not know.” He said CPEC should be discussed in this House and public should be told about the modes of investment.

The BNP chief said copper, gold, coal and other precious minerals were being extracted from Saindak which the Chinese were taking away through Gwadar.  He said among suggestions given to the government are a cancer hospital, roads, dams and health facilities.

“Wealth of retired generals, judges and bureaucrats should be probed and brought back,” demanded Mengal.

Responding to Mengal’s speech, Mazari said “I assure the Balochs will get their due rights including development.”

The session then later adjourned to meet again today (Thursday).

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