ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government on Tuesday in the National Assembly strongly rejecting any shift in foreign policy about Syria made it clear that Pakistan fully honours national and international laws in its agreements and sale of arms.
“We strongly reject the speculations regarding change in Pakistan’s policy on Syria and linking it with the visit of Saudi Crown Prince,” said Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz, in a policy statement.
The government side clarified its stance on foreign policy after facing a sharp criticism from almost all the opposition factions in the House.
He told the house that Pakistan wants a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria and said that the same was emphasized in the Pak-Saudi Arabia joint statement after Crown Prince Saudi Arabia visited Pakistan recently.
He said that the government took the principled stand on the basis of what has been discussed at the international forums about Syria and affirmed its stance that all the hostilities from both sides should be ceased with immediately as well as the lifting of siege of Syrian towns and withdrawal of foreign elements for the Syrian soil to pave the way for the resolution of conflict in an amicable way.
“We conveyed our position to international forums that the Syrian government and opposition should demonstrate maturity to resolve the issue,” he stated and added that all the talks of interference on part are just speculation and is a sort of propaganda that Pakistan would supply weapons to rebels on the behest of Saudi Arabia. He said that sale of arms is done in a legal way in conformity with all the international laws and regulations.
Sartaj said that Pakistan wholeheartedly supports the territorial integrity of Syria and as per the Geneva communiqué wishes that a transitional governing body comprising representatives of government and opposition should be formed for smooth resolution of the issue. He said it was necessary to deal with the chemical weapons, but it did not mean to heighten unrest and killing of thousands of citizens. Furthermore, there should be a transition system with full authority and all parties should cease shelling and aerial attacks.
However, the policy statement read out by Sartaj Aziz was not fully endorsed by the main opposition parties including PPP-P and PTI as they termed it ‘unsatisfactory’ and a bit confusing stance.
PPP lawmaker Naveed Qamar, on a point of order, said that there was no need to indulge in the affairs of other countries, as all such talks of lifting of siege of the towns of Syria and transitional authority are same to interfering in another countries.
Having almost the same opinion, PTI’s Dr Shireen Mazari said the government should not shift its policy on the whims of allied. She said it could have bad repercussions.
However, Sartaj Aziz in response to the opposition’s concerns further made it clear that it is not transitional government but transitional government body that should be formed as per the international communiqué. “There is no change in policy and we are not interfering in the affairs of other countries,” he added.
The house on the first private members day of the 9th session disposed of half of the agenda items including discussion on ‘foreign policy of the government’.
Taking part in the debate on foreign policy, PTI lawmaker Shafqat Mehmood drew the attention of vacant Foreign Minister seat for last over eight months. He said they have no clear idea about the relationship with neighboring countries including India, Iran and Afghanistan.
A lawmaker from treasury benches Awais Leghari, on his turn, stressed the need for strengthening country’s institution to deal with different issues. He came down hard on the previous government for only holding three NA standing committees on foreign affairs. He also supported trade with India. “We should trade with neighbors including India but watching our interest,” he added.
PPP lawmaker Nafeesa Shah also expressed her unsatisfactory remarks about the clarification of Sartaj Aziz about Syria. She was of the view that Pakistan was going to make another mistake with this step.
Adopting a bit strict stance, Shireen Mazari said that there was no foreign policy of the incumbent government. She strongly criticized the government intentions to give MFN status to India. “How can we say our good relations with India, when there is confusion about Kashmir and Sir Creek with India,” she said adding that both US and Pakistan will never have the same goals.
Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, at the fag end of the proceeding, suggested government for calling joint session tomorrow (Wednesday), as Prime Minister will make policy statement about next strategy for continuing peace talks or operation in North Waziristan. Whereas, both Speaker NA Iyaz Sadiq and PML-N leader Sheikh Aftab expressed ignorance about PM expected policy statement in the House tomorrow (Wednesday)
Earlier, the House saw a brief debate between treasury and opposition benches while discussing the matter of AJK’s recent bye-elections. The lawmakers of PTI and PPP reiterated their stance that sending Ranger in AJK is illegal.
“It is illegal to send the Rangers into dispute territory under UNO resolutions,” said Shireen Mazari , in response to the clarification Federal Minister for Kashmir & Gilgit Baltistan Affairs Barjees Tahir that Rangers was called by Chief Election Commission AJK on which Prime Minister AJK reposed confidence.
AML chief Sheikh Rasheed , MQM’s Asif Hasnain, and Naveed Qamar were of the opinion that government has no right to send Rangers in the area. They said that in this way it pleased the India to propagate that Pakistan is interfering in Kashmir. Whereas, Minister Barjees Tahir clarified that Chief Election Commissioner had asked for Rangers during the elections not the federal government.
At the first half of the proceeding, four bills including ‘The Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University Islamabad (amendment) bill,2014, ‘the criminal law (amendment) bill,2014, ‘the Narcotics Sustances (amendment) bill,2014 and ‘the constitution (amendment ) bill,2014 , were introduced. The House also adopted motion that government should take steps to do away with load shedding of gas in the country.