Wednesday Aug 30, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani lawmakers from across the political spectrum on Wednesday collectively raised their voice against the new US policy for the region.
After speeches by members throughout the day, the assembly passed a resolution rejecting the ‘hostile and threatening’ statements made by US President Donald Trump as well as America's top general in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson's claims regarding the presence of Taliban shuras in Quetta and Peshawar.
"The House denounces the complete disregard of Pakistan's sacrifices by the US," said Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, adding that the National Assembly stands with the armed forces of Pakistan in their fight against terrorism.
Once the speaker presented the resolution on the floor, it was adopted unanimously.
The resolution calls on the government of Pakistan to consider postponing any visits by US officials and vice versa as well as suspension of cooperation with US — particularly ground/air lines of communication through Pakistan.
It also calls on the government to draw up and inform the US and Afghan governments of a blueprint for the return of Afghan refugees to their home country in a dignified but specified time frame.
Moreover, the resolution advises the government to formulate economic policies to deal with any situation arising out of the absence of US assistance and commence a diplomatic initiative to inform the international community of repercussions on the region of the failed US Afghan policy.
Lawmakers also demanded the government to reiterate Pakistan’s determination to strengthen border control measures and demand cooperation and similar action from Afghanistan and international forces in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the resolution expressed concern over the increasing number of Daesh and other terrorist networks in Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan and called on Afghanistan, US and its allies to close borders to leaders of groups carrying out attacks in Pakistan.
Speaking earlier, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah proposed calling a Joint Session of Parliament after Eid so a 'strong' response can be given to the US policy.
The opposition leader termed Trump's policy statement for Pakistan of 'huge significance'.
He blamed the country's foreign policy 'failure' over the past four years on the government's decision to not have a dedicated separate foreign minister.
"Our foreign minister should have started today's debate in the assembly," he argued.
Shah also criticised Pakistan's poor relations with most of its neighbours, saying "our neighbours hurl threats at us".
The Pakistan Peoples Party's senior leader came down hard on former ambassador Abdul Basit's scathing letter to Pakistan's envoy in US Aizaz Chaudhry.
"This is a failure of governance," said Shah.
Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar in the session said that the issue of US’ continued criticism on Pakistan will not stop by mere resolutions and condemnations and needs a major overhaul of the entire narrative towards the US.
Severely criticising the US, Nisar that US’ policy in the region has failed miserably, saying that Pakistan is not responsible for its failures.
“US did not ask Pakistan before going to Afghanistan,” he said, adding that US has held talks with the Taliban in the region but “all hell breaks loose” when Pakistan wants to do the same.
He reiterated that Pakistan should not take the path of confrontation, and bring arguments based on facts and reason.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he has not seen the unity he is witnessing today in the National Assembly.
The former foreign minister appreciated the government's decision to consult regional allies after Trump's speech, but added that the government should also seek Iran's assistance in the matter, as suggested by Nisar.
"As foreign minister, I know how difficult it was to get reimbursements under the Coalition Support Fund from the US," he stressed, referring to a similar statement from Nisar.
Qureshi said Trump’s own earlier statements contradict his present positions on the issue.
He termed the US government's taking on board of New Delhi to get to Afghanistan a 'red line'.
In a fiery fashion, he said Pakistan does not want to fight America but also will not bow down to it.
He recalled that former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, a 'favourite' of the US, has also rejected Trump's policy.
"I ask Trump, do you not see the safe-havens in eastern Afghanistan," said Qureshi.
He also questioned Trump who scuttled Pakistan's efforts to ensure better border management with Afghanistan.
"The international community has forgotten the Afghan refugees in Pakistan," he said, adding "how much is the US assisting in aiding those refugees".
He called out Trump's comments on terror funding, saying does Trump not see the vast poppy fields in Afghanistan that fund terrorism.
The PTI leader criticised India's 'continued opposition' to resolving bilateral issues, including Kashmir, through dialogue.
In conclusion, he said it is not Pakistan's policy to see the "Talibanisation of Afghanistan", as it is not the government's policy to see the Talibanisation of Pakistan.
"I see a lot of Indian ingress in the US Congress," he shared further.
PTI's Shireen Mazari came down hard against Europe and US, saying they themselves are providing safe havens to extremist elements in their territories and Pakistan should not ignore this.
The foreign minister also briefly addressed the session, followed by other lawmakers. They were arguing back and forth over the contents of the assembly's resolution on the issue.
Earlier, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed also addressed the assembly. He too criticised Basit's letter, saying it was embarrassing to see news of it in the media.
He suggested the government should open backdoor diplomacy with the US.