Shift in US stance during PTI tenure: Qureshi

Parliamentarians almost come to blows once again


​ Our Correspondent July 29, 2019
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Monday said the government was making efforts to take the reconciliation process in Afghanistan to its logical conclusion by encouraging intra-Afghan dialogue but there were certain forces that who did not want peace and stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Speaking in the National Assembly, he said the government was trying to move forward the intra-Afghan dialogue, which was acknowledged by the United States. “European countries including Germany and Norway are taking interest in the peace process and further talks will be held in Oslo soon,” he added.

Terming the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the US to meet President Donald Trump a success, he said that the American stance on the Afghan conflict had changed during the 11 months that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had been in power.

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“After a gap of five years, the prime minister of Pakistan got the invitation to the US and he presented the vision and viewpoint of Pakistan before the US administration, Congress and think tanks,” he added.

“The first reason for this change is that it agreed to Imran Khan’s long-time belief that a political settlement will be required to achieve peace in Afghanistan, not war,” he explained.

In the past, the Trump administration had announced a South Asia Strategy and through it put all the blame on Pakistan for its difficulties in Afghanistan. “The United States had suspended economic and military assistance of Pakistan besides stopping training programmes,” he said adding that the US Congress was unanimous in its opposition to Pakistan in previous years but that had gradually changed during PTI’s tenure.

He also briefed the NA on the security situation in the wake of two attacks in North Waziristan and Balochistan that left 10 armed forces personnel martyred.

“The entire Pakistani nation will have to come together for national interest in order to support the government's efforts to create a favourable environment for peace in the region.”

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He lauded the parliament for having devised the National Action Plan and voting to merge the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan also invested heavily in border fencing as part of its efforts to secure regional peace, he observed.

The briefing on the security situation was sought by Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, who addressed the lower house before the foreign minister.

Production orders

Sharif also called for issuing production orders of detained National Assembly members (MNAs).           “Today, some MNAs are not present as their productions orders were not issued. It is the speaker's responsibility to ensure the presence of the detained members in the house,” he added.

Mentioning the names of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Asif Ali Zardari, Rana Sanaullah, Saad Rafique and two members from Waziristan, he urged Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who was chairing the session, to issue their production orders.

Shehbaz said he met Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz legislator Rana Sanaullah in the court in Lahore on Monday, who told him that he was in a solitary confinement in jail.

Simmering situation

During the session, the members of the opposition and the government almost came to blows after a heated exchange.

The incident occurred when Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members tried to talk after federal minister Murad Saeed had delivered his speech but the government members raised a hue and cry. The deputy speaker Qasim Suri gave the microphone to PPP’s member Abdul Qadir Patel but the government members created a ruckus.

On seeing the condition spiraling out of control, the deputy speaker postponed the session till 4pm on Thursday. (With additional input from APP)

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