Senate panel objects to PM’s BJP statement

Passes resolution against Indian ruling party’s anti-Kashmir manifesto

Haseeb Hanif April 11, 2019


Opposition lawmakers on Thursday took exception to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement in which he had reportedly said there would be more chances or resumptions of talks with India, if PM Narendra Modi’s far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was elected to power once again.

“If the next Indian government is led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK), fearing a backlash from the right,” the prime minister had told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview a couple of days back.

“Perhaps if the BJP wins, some kind of settlement on Kashmir could be reached. This is despite the massive alienation that Muslims in IOK and India are facing under the Modi regime,” Khan had added.

However, on Thursday, opposition members of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs demanded that the PM immediately retract that statement.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was briefing the panel on Pakistan-India relations after February 14 Pulwama incident and the efforts of the Foreign Office to mobilise the international community in support of Pakistan, defended the premier.

“The prime minister’s stance on Modi is quite clear. He has expressed views on Modi’s past terrorism as well. The premier’s statement was presented out of context,” Qureshi said.

“So you imply that Imran Khan is not Modi’s friend [Modi ka Yar]?” The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman asked Qureshi. “We are neither anyone friends nor aides,” Qureshi retorted.

During the meeting, Senator Rehman Malik presented a resolution against Modi and the BJP on their anti-Kashmir electoral manifesto. The committee adopted the resolution unanimously.

Earlier, Qureshi told the committee in a chronological order how the Pulwama incident and India's immediate allegation against Pakistan were dealt with by the Foreign Office.

He said at the time of February 14 Pulwama attack, he was attending the UN Security Council meeting. “We condemned the Pulwama attack before anyone else. But India within 10 minutes of the attack accused Pakistan. We told the world that India is accusing Pakistan without investigation.

“We briefed the African and European ambassadors on the Line of Control (LoC) violations, wrote letter to the UN secretary general on Indian reaction and told the world that India is misleading the world. The PM also offered cooperation to India after Pulwama attack.”

He said Nepal, Turkey, China and foreign ministers of many other countries were also contacted and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers’ meeting was called on Pakistan’s demand.

“But we boycotted it after the parliament’s approval when Indian external affairs minister was invited to the conference. Later, the OIC approved a resolution against the Indian state aggression in the IOK.”

Qureshi reiterated that India is preparing for another adventure against Pakistan. “We have intelligence in this regard,” he said. In the meeting, chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, the issue of Pakistanis imprisoned abroad was also discussed.

Sherry Rehman said the UAE jails are not releasing Pakistanis despite conclusion of their terms.

The foreign minister said the government is trying for the release of overseas prisoners who have completed their term. “We have held talk with Saudi Arabia which will soon release over 2107 prisoners. We are also in talks with the UAE and will get good news in this regard during Ramazan.”

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