FM Qureshi rules out possibility of peace talks before India elections

Senate panel directs FO to present policy on INGOs in parliament


Our Correspondent November 14, 2018
Dismissing rumours, the foreign minister says Aasia Bibi has not left Pakistan. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi has ruled any progress on the issue of peace talks with India before upcoming general elections in the neighbouring country.

Qureshi was speaking to media after attending a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

He dispelled the rumours that Aasia Bibi had left the country, and said she was present in Pakistan. He, however, said the case should not be discussed in the media for being sub judice.

The foreign minister also avoided response to a question regarding the alleged abduction and murder in Afghanistan of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Dawar.

Earlier, Qureshi also briefed the foreign affairs committee on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visits to Saudi Arabia and China while relations with Afghanistan and India as well as progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also came under discussion.

The meeting was presided over by the committee chairman, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who along with its members, expressed satisfaction over the ‘detailed, comprehensive and informative’ briefing given by Qureshi.

He updated the committee on the government's foreign policy while participants of the meeting strongly condemned atrocities being committed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir.

Responding to a question, the foreign minister underlined continued commitment of the government to strengthen CPEC and take it to a higher level of development, calling it “a strategic, national project which enjoys full national consensus of all political parties and provinces".

Furthermore, he also updated members on the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui as well as his earlier meeting with Aafia’s sister. The committee members said the government should make all efforts for her early release and repatriation to Pakistan.

About INGOs, the panel directed the Foreign Office to prepare a policy and present it to parliament for approval as Pakistan, being an important global player, cannot afford to get isolated.

Meanwhile, Senator Sayed also briefed the committee on his recent visit to the European Parliament at Strasburg as well as a track-II dialogue on Kashmir in London.

“This is the best time to internationalise the Kashmir issue and Pakistan must take a proactive initiative to promote the Kashmir cause with the help of the international community and Pakistani diaspora,” he said.

Pakistan respects Aasia Bibi's legal rights, Qureshi tells Canadian counterpart

The committee chairman also proposed that the coming Kashmir Day – on February 5, 2019 – should be observed with a strong show of solidarity both in Pakistan and outside, particularly in London, with active participation and support of Pakistani parliamentarians and members of the House of Commons and the European Parliament.

The suggestion was readily accepted by the foreign minister who assured full support and cooperation of the Foreign Office and the government.

The meeting was attended by Senators Javed Abbasi, Asif Kirmani, Nuzhat Sadiq, Asad Junejo, Sherry Rehman, Anwarul Haq Kakar, Mian Ateeq Sheikh, Sitara Ayaz and Jehanzeb Jamaldini, besides committee Secretary Hafeez Sheikh.

“Our foreign policy must be proactive and take out-of-the-box initiatives to meet contemporary challenges,” stated Senator Sayed while talking to the media after the meeting.

He categorically stated the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee always functions above party lines to promote, protect and preserve the national interests of Pakistan.

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