ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday resumed its joint session to discuss Indian warmongering and aggression as the country’s foreign minister urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to postpone the Abu Dhabi conference due to the recent escalation between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is invited to the OIC moot as a guest of honour despite strong protest from Pakistan. FM Qureshi informed the lawmakers that did not attend the conference in UAE in protest.
"The invitation was sent without consultation. Hence, I have decided to not attend the session," he told the Parliament.
The foreign minister also wrote a letter addressed to the OIC - content of which was approved by the members of the Lower House and political parties.
"India is not a member of the OIC," he asserted and added that Ankara and Tehran were also displeased over extending an invitation to New Delhi.
Qureshi, briefing the parliament on his conversation with United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said: "He said the invitation was extended before the Pulwama attack. But the crown prince showed the willingness to rethink the decision."
"We have a total of 19 resolutions at the OIC – all include human rights violations committed by the Indian occupying forces in the disputed valley. Our stance will be presented at the conference by officials from the foreign ministry.”
“Any bid to grant observer’s status to India will be opposed by Pakistan at the OIC."
The foreign minister further said that the decision was backed by Turkey and the country had promised to play their role in it.
"In Hanoi, United States President Donald Trump said he did not want instability in the sub-continent. The US has long-standing ties with Pakistan, recently its relations with India have improved. Trump directed US envoys to play their part in de-escalating the recent situating. I thank him for the efforts."
"In my trip to Moscow before the Pulwama attack, I had expressed concerns about possible misadventures from the Indian side. Today, the Indian nation and political opposition are vindicating Pakistan’s stance that Narendra Modi is escalating the situation for political gains," he said as he referred to Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) regional chief boasting that the air strike will secure at least 22 more seats for the party.
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Taking the floor after the foreign minister's address, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif thanked Turkey for standing by Pakistan side in tumultuous times.
Shehbaz regretted that other allies of the country did not issue statements favouring Pakistan’s stance. “It would have helped to strengthen our position globally.”
The PML-N president further suggested sending a delegation to allied countries to push Islamabad’s narrative. In the end, he thanked the armed forces for their sacrifice and paid tribute to the three armed services.
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'Pakistan should have engaged the OIC'
Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, however, disagreed with the government’s decision to not attend the OIC conference.
“I feel Pakistan should have engaged the OIC as disengagement is not a solution. It will only drive India further.”
Zardari stressed that OIC members were Pakistan’s friends. “I believe we should strengthen our ties with neighbours and allies. In 2008, after the Mumbai attack, we contained the situation through diplomatic channels by engaging our allies. I accept the government’s decision to not attend the conference but I would rather we went and held talks with the members.”
The former president also thanked Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilot Hasan Siddiqui for defending the country. “Yes, we are both nuclear-armed countries. I would like to mention that Benazir Bhutto brought nuclear technology to Pakistan.”
“We are emotional at the moment but we should not forget that wars are fought between nations and not just armies. And the nation is ready – but it should be our last resort.”
“Modi’s adventurism has backfired. God has been very kind. We managed to come out of the situation with dignity – we should hold on to it, not squander it.”
Zardari said the captured pilot’s release was a welcome move. “It is soft diplomacy – and it is the need of the hour. The move depicts us in a better light in the world. India is painting us as a terrorist state but our actions show that we are a democratic state.”
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'Fully capable to defend our borders'
Finance Minister Asad Umar began his address by paying tribute to the armed forces. “It is because of them that we can sleep peacefully at night.”
Umar was impressed by Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan’s talk. “The forces are doing their job, the responsibility to ensure regional peace lies with the political leadership.”
The PTI leader said that the nation was united at the moment, unlike India. He further urged the Modi-led government to contain war-hysteria. “Pakistan may be going through an economic crisis but we are fully capable to defend our borders.”
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'Support FM Qureshi’s decision'
Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif expressed pleasure at the united front being shown to the world. “India is using its Muslim population as leverage to become a member of the OIC. Today, they have been invited as a guest of honour, next they will vie for observer’s status. Hence, I support FM Qureshi’s decision to not attend the OIC.”
He urged the Parliament to stand united and send a message to the world that Pakistan is eliminating terrorism.
“The United State is ready to engage in dialogue after 17-year-long conflict. We are providing them an escape route,” he said.
Referring to PM Imran’s call to Modi – which the Indian premier ignored – Asif lamented that Nawaz Sharif was called a traitor for opening a dialogue with Modi. “Nawaz saw it coming. He urged economic development and ties. Today, Imran is doing the same thing. And we are standing behind him [Imran],” he said as he urged for unity.
Asif quipped that Imran can call Modi but shies away from shaking opposition leader’s hands.
On Kashmir, he said freedom was every Kashmiri’s birthright. “Even the United Nations have endorsed that Kashmiris have a right to self-determination which India is denying.”
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