ISLAMABAD - Parliamentary Committee on National Security on Tuesday sought more detailed and in-depth briefing from foreign minister and military leadership on the new American policy on Afghanistan and stressed the need for formulation of a long-term foreign policy of the country in consultation with all the stakeholders.

The committee comprising parliamentarians from both houses of the Parliament were given briefing on the recent anti-Pakistan remarks by American President Donald Trump while announcing new US policy on Afghanistan by Foreign Secretary Tahmina Janjua.

She also informed the committee about the recent visits of Foreign Minister Kh.Asif to China, Iran and Turkey and the support Islamabad had garnered from these friendly countries.

The committee met in the chair of Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was not satisfied with the briefing by foreign secretary and sought a detailed and comprehensive briefing on the issue from foreign minister and military leadership in its next meeting so that foundation for the formulation of long-term foreign policy of the country could be laid down.

Sources aware of the deliberations of the committee, which remained in session well over four hours, informed The Nation that the members were divided on host of issues as some members of the committee wanted to take hard line against the United States for not acknowledging the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the war on terror while some were of the view that instead of taking antagonist stand against the US a window of dialogue should be kept open to make Washington realise the ground realities and the role being played by Pakistan in the quest for international peace.

Sources said the members of the 33-member body, comprising representation of all parties in the Parliament, was unanimous to see the relations with restive Afghanistan improved and stressed the need for redefining the country’s narrative on Afghanistan in line with the other neighbouring states.

The members were also of the view that in the given situation Islamabad should not leave Kabul at the will of India and must engage Afghanistan in dialogue to help establish durable peace there, which would only be possible with homegrown initiative and policies wherein the neighbouring states should supplement and synergise the Afghan government efforts toward this end.

Sources in the Parliament informed that the members were also divided on the statement of Foreign Minister Kh. Asif wherein he had stated that first Pakistan needs to bring its own house in order. Some of the members supported the narrative of Kh.Asif while some had taken the statement as casual rather irresponsible in the given circumstances, as such a statement could only add to the problems of the country.

Besides Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, prominent among those who were in attendance were Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PkMAP Chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, ANP leader Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, JI Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, PML-Q Tariq Chima, MQM Pakistan Chief Dr Farooq Sattar, PTI leader Dr Shreen Mazari, Federal Ministers Zahid Hamid, Khurram Dastagir Khan, Mir Hazil Khan Bizenjo Secretary Foreign Affairs Tahmina Janjua and officials of relevant ministries.

Foreign Secretary Tahmina Janjua briefing the committee said that they were examining the new US policy on Afghanistan and the statement against Pakistan, which seemed an outcome of mounting public pressure on US President.

She further said that Pakistan was consulting the friendly states on the new US policy and termed the meetings of foreign minister with his Chinese counterpart and Iranian leadership encouraging and supportive of Pakistan’s point of view.

She further said that Pakistan would continue to support Afghanistan in establishing peace as they believed that durable peace could only be attained through home-grown policy and the neighbouring countries could supplement and support its efforts.

Talking to media after the meeting PTI Central Leader Dr Shareen Mazari said that the country needs to move forward keeping in view ground realities but at the same time certain things should be kept covert in the greater national interest.

Minister for Port and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo said that without admitting the weaknesses and must maintain transparency in formulation of the internal and external policies only then Pakistan could successfully move forward. He further said that a number of banned outfits were operating in the country with new nomenclatures and this needs to be checked.

PPP leader Sherry Rehman said that for the sovereignty of the country Pakistan must attain economic independence as the country could not hold its policies independent when it was still holding the begging bowl in its hands.

Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in a brief chat after the meeting said that the committee had reviewed situation in the aftermath of US new Afghan policy and criticism on Pakistan. The members were given briefing on the visits of foreign minister to China, Iran and Turkey.

He said that it was the consensus view of the members that for formulation of a long-term foreign policy of the country all stakeholders should be taken on board and the guideline given in this connection by the Senate and the resolutions adopted by both houses of the Parliament on the US President remarks would also be given due consideration.

He said that in the next meeting of the committee implementation on National Action Plan and banned organisations in the country would be discussed.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 13-Sep-2017 here.