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pakistan
Saturday Jan 25 2020
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Opposition senators slam PM Imran for 'prioritising Afghanistan over Kashmir' to match US agenda

Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: Senators from opposition parties on Friday sought an explanation from Prime Minister Imran Khan for the federal government’s alleged "U-turn" on Kashmir issue, The News report today.

The senators were referring to a recent statement made by the prime minister earlier this week during his meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The premier had purportedly said that his number one priority was Afghanistan.

The opposition senators criticised Prime Minister Imran for allegedly putting the Kashmir issue on the backburner, and also questioned if his government was taking a step back from the commitments it had made to Beijing under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Sherry Rehman was the first to target the controversial statement.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan met President Donald Trump but on an important international forum, he clearly said that his first priority was Afghanistan, not Kashmir. Has the government taken a U-turn on Kashmir? Should the pain and anguish of Kashmir not feature first in that scale of priorities?” she asked.

The senator called it a major shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy, "unless it was one of his usual slip-of-tongue moments”.

“Instead of keeping the parliament away from the making and unpacking of crucial policies, the prime minister should share priorities and knowledge with the house because it has the right to know as well as the right to make policy. The PPP has always respected the parliament’s right to decide because we believe in its supremacy,” she noted.

Rehman unloaded a barrage of questions at the prime minister.

“We want to know what happened to solidarity with Kashmir? Does anyone remember what happened to Fridays for Kashmir solidarity? Where did that go? What has emerged in its place? Our political parties have roots in Kashmir and we are asked questions about what we are doing," she asked. 

"I certainly hope there has not been a shift in our policy towards Kashmir but it is clear that there is absolutely no transparency on the discussions that take place with any of the global leadership."

Meanwhile, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, a senator from the National Party, brought the upper house's attention towards a statement by US Principal Deputy Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells. 

The US envoy, according to the senator, had claimed that "all the Chinese companies working in Pakistan were corrupt and blacklisted."

“What do we think of our country? Do we own this country? We have fought others' wars on our soil and that has brought us to the present state of affairs. Are we not repeating that again?” asked Bizenjo.

Senator Bizenjo noted that Wells came to Pakistan and issued a statement against CPEC, which he deemed as “anti-Pakistan”.

“Foreign Minister should tell us what is our stance on the statements by US and Chinese as US has adopted the same stance that our ministers have held about CPEC. Are we really rolling back CPEC? When the US diplomat issued her statement and Chinese ambassador responded it, it felt as if we don’t even exist,” he said.

Senators Bizenjo and Rehman's remarks were supported by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who said that the Pakistan-China strategic relationship has irked the US as "the balance of economic and political power has shifted" away from Washington.