ISLAMABAD - Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday told the National Assembly defence and foreign policies would be presented in the House within a few weeks.
Sartaj Aziz, speaking on regional and global changes, underlined the need for integrated policies to steer the country out of the prevailing crisis.
Winding up the debate on a motion about the government’s foreign policy, Sartaz Aziz, on the last private member day of the 9th session, said four major areas would be taken care of in these policies.
“Internal security and policy of non-interference, benefiting from geographic location, economic development through trade with minimum dependence on aid and promoting the image of the country shall be the main focused areas,” he said, adding the incumbent government was pursuing a balanced and sovereign foreign policy.
The adviser further said both the internal and external threats were under consideration while framing the policies. “I have also been briefing the parliamentary committees and the House to take input of the colleagues,” he added.
He further said they were closely monitoring the changing regional and global scenario to ensure that Pakistan was following the policy of non-interference.
He also highlighted the importance of regional cooperation, saying that menaces like terrorism cannot be overcome without adopting a regional approach.
About the input of lawmakers from both the sides on foreign policy, he made it clear that Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline was on priority, but it could not be completed in next three years. "There is an issue of sanctions, but it cannot affect the gas pipeline project,” he said, explaining that sanctions could be handled through financial assistance internationally. He informed the House that the PM was going to visit Iran on the invitation of the Iranian president.
Answering a question, he strongly dispelled the impression that Pakistan was providing arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Syria. In response to the reservation from the opposition benches, he clarified that India was not being given one-sided relaxation in trade, adding the way was being paved for composite dialogue through working groups and back-channel diplomacy.
About Pak-Afghan relations, he said relations between the two countries were on way to normalcy, especially after the government had assured them of Pakistan’s policy of non-interference.
The adviser said Pakistan had made the US believe that its previous policy had not favoured Pakistan. “We should not be seen through the Afghan lens,” he said, adding it had been conveyed to the US.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah stressed the need to take decisions at proper time. "This is the time of decision now,” he said, referring to terrorism.
About Ch Nisar’s statement for asking Taliban about Islamabad’s tragic incident, he made a mockery of the statement, saying this group of Taliban should also be included in National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA).
About Islamabad’s tragic incident, he said it was failure of the government as the assailants remained on the spot for around 40 minutes. “There is a need to accept the responsibility. The police reached the scene very late. It is the federal capital of the country, not Toba Tek Singh,” he remarked.
PPP’s Imran Zafar Leghari stressed the need to revisit the foreign policy of the country. He expressed serious reservation over dropping the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.
Another PPP lawmaker, Shazia Marri, went the extra mile and said there was a need to focus on the deteriorating internal matters of the country. She came down hard on the government over its policy on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
Taking the floor, PTI lawmaker Ayesha Gulalai said the government should also focus on Kashmir, Sir Creek and other matters.
The house was also informed that a seven-member committee had been formed to probe the allegations levelled by MNA Jamshed Dasti who claimed a few days back the lawmakers were involved in immoral activities. The seven-member committee would comprise Arif Alvi, Imran Zafar Leghari, Rohail Asghar, Kazim Ali Shah, Shahida Akhtar Ali, Sohail Mansoor and Mian Manan.
The House with a heavy agenda was also informed that there was no directive terminating contractual employees in the federal government departments. “The PML-N government is committed to eliminating unemployment and no such directive has been issued,” said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab, responding to a call-attention notice. A motion was also adopted, urging the government to provide national identity cards to the people free of cost.
The house also witnessed a detailed discussion on interest-free loans as lawmakers from the opposition parties stressed the need of interest-free loans for government employees.
Earlier‚ Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, Qanun-e-Shahdat Order, 1984, (the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, and Hindu Marriage Bill‚ 2014, were tabled in the House.
The statement of objects and reason of Qanun-e-Shahdat Order says that rape is a physical and psychological attack on a woman’s dignity, body, her mental well-being, integrity and privacy, and affects her ability to function in the society. The bill aims at amending the procedural and substantive law on rape so as to recognise and tackle the lapses and challenges in the investigation and prosecution of the offence and sensitising the law to the needs and vulnerabilities of the rape victim.