Khursheed Shah to Convene Joint Session of Parliament to debate Trump policy
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution against United States (US) revised policy on Afghanistan and rejected President Donald Trump’s accusations of harbouring terrorists on Pakistani soul and prolonging insurgency in the country.
The resolution on the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South-Asia and allegations against Pakistan was tabled by Law Minister Zahid Hamid in the House.
The resolution denounced US decision of taking India on board in connection with countering insurgency in Afghanistan while laying emphasis that Pakistan will continue its support to Kashmir’s struggle for right of self-determination.
“The entire nation is united against Trump’s revised policy for Afghanistan and region as Pakistan has made enormous sacrifices in war against terrorism,” the resolution stressed.
It further emphasized that Pakistan offered sacrifices of over 70,000 lives to eliminate the menace of terrorism while lauding efforts of Pakistan’s armed forces.
Earlier, lawmakers from across the political spectrum collectively raised their voice against the new US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia rejecting Trump’ allegations. The parliament termed the policy as crossing the Red Line and said it is not acceptable to Pakistan at any cost.
“We don’t want war with US but Pakistan would not bow down as well : We never wanted war, will not indulge in irresponsible attitude. The US scuttled everything from border management and regulating Chaman border”.
“Let us all stand together, in this lies respect of Parliament, government and institutions” the members from across the political divide said.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah urged the government to call a Joint Session of Parliament over new US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia so that ‘strong’ response can be given to the new US policy for Pakistan.
The opposition leader criticized government for its foreign policy failures. He termed US President Donald Trump’s new policy statement for Pakistan of ‘huge significance’.
He said that the government did not appoint a full-fledged foreign minister for the last fours years, which led to the current situation. He said: “We should ponder over why Trump threatens us. We should not hide facts from the nation.”
He added: “this is not the proper time to get emotional rather to ponder over our failure as to why we are losing our importance.”
He said that today no one was happy with Pakistan and relations with those sharing borders with us were not cordial. “Our foreign minister should have started Tuesday’s debate in the assembly,” he argued.
Khursheed Shah said the country was weakened in the last four years due to weak foreign policy. He also referred to former High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s letter to Aizaz Chaudhry and termed it total failure of the governance. He pointed out that while Muslims and other countries were at the back of Pakistan during 1965 war, today Pakistan is isolated.
He proposed a system to check the allegations of terrorists Safe Heavens in Pakistan and emphasized that the US should also give proof of terrorists crossing into Afghanistan.
The opposition leader said they all love Pakistan and pray for its security, honour and development. They would not create a situation which may make the country a laughing stock and all the parties are united on the important issues of Trump criticism of Pakistan.
He said the house should adopt a strong resolution reflecting the unity of the entire nation and there should be no point scoring.
Former interior minister and senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan lambasted the strategy announced by US President Donald Trump for Afghanistan and South Asia, saying Pakistan was not responsible for the failure of US and its allies in Afghanistan.
Nisar also ridiculed Trump’s claim that the US has paid “billions and billions of dollars” to Pakistan, calling on the Pakistani government to put on the table the record of past 20 years to expose American claims. He said auditing of the accounts would prove how much US has given as compared to our losses of $ 120 billion suffered by Pakistan. He pointed out that the US is using our roads and air space and destroyed our country but not ready to pay the genuine expenses and above all claim that they give us billions of dollars.
“It’s not billions of dollars, it is peanuts,” the former interior minister said.
Nisar said that the Coalition Support Fund paid by US is for the services rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. He said that the US drags its feet during the reimbursement of the military fund, adding, “If our bill for military services is $500 million, they [US] sit on it for months and end up giving us $200 million.”
Former interior minister said that 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 criticizing the US, Nisar said that US’ policy in the region has failed miserably, saying that Pakistan is not responsible for its failures. He said no compromise could be made on Pakistan’s integrity. “If you keep on scaring, the opponent will make the most out of it, he added.
The ex-interior minister said US’s policy in Afghanistan didn’t fail due to Pakistan, but because of its own reasons.
He said the Parliament’s role was not just confined to making speeches, rather its function is to lead and guide masses. He reiterated that Pakistan should not take the path of confrontation, and advance arguments based on facts and reasons.
Nisar suggested the speaker National Assembly and the Senate to write letters to their respective counterparts in the US and apprise them of Pakistan’s apprehensions. He regretted that US allegations were coming at a time when there were no terrorist havens inside Pakistan.
He said during the forthcoming visit of US Assistant Secretary of State should only hold talks with the additional secretary and at the most call on the foreign secretary. He said there should be no meetings of the PM and COAS with her.
He said it is a unique opportunity for the parliament, the government and the opposition to show complete solidarity and a joint statement be adopted in consultation with Parliament, government and institutions and every one own it.
He proposed that foreign minister should visit China, Russia,Turkey and Iran describing Teheran as a time tested friend.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said a strong message should go from the assembly in the shape of a joint statement reflecting the unity and voice of people of Pakistan.
He made it clear that Peace in Afghanistan cannot come through New Delhi, while referring to increased role of India that President Trump has proposed in his speech. He said the United States has crossed the Red Line and it is not acceptable to Pakistan.
He asked the US administration to give us the number of dollars they gave to Pakistan and how much Pakistan paid the price. He said the international community has forgotten the tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who are a heavy burden on Pakistan economy.
He said while US talks of no cross border terrorism but it does not see the militarization of Indian held Kashmir where people are being killed and tortured. He asked the Speaker to convene a meeting of the Parliamentary National Security committee after Eid to debate the issue.
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 Ch Nisar.
“As foreign minister, I know how difficult it was to get reimbursements under the Coalition Support Fund from the US,” he disclosed, referring to a similar statement from Nisar.
Qureshi said Trump’s own earlier statements contradict his present positions on the issue.
In a fiery fashion, he said Pakistan does not want to fight America but also will not bow down to it.
Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad 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.