ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Thursday reiterated it will adopt a balanced policy in line with the recommendations of the Parliament with regard to its participation in Saudi-led Islamic Military Coalition (IMC).

Making a policy statement in the Senate, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz assured the upper house that Pakistan would follow a balanced-policy approach once all member countries themselves decide which activity they want to carry out.

These activities, he said, include political consultation, intelligence sharing, capacity building, counter-narrative and military cooperation. Aziz said Pakistan maintains a balanced position on regional conflicts and fully supports Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity and protects the sanctity of Harmain Sharifain.

Responding to a call-attention notice of Senator Farhatullah Babar, he said the 34-country alliance was announced in December 2015, but later it was redefined as Islamic Military Coalition as clarified by the Saudi foreign minister.

Babar moved the call-attention notice regarding statements of Saudi authorities that the Islamic Military Alliance will not restrict only to terrorist organisations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda but also take action against the rebel groups posing threat to any member country, on the request of that country, as reported in the media. Aziz said it had been decided that programmes and mechanism of IMC will be decided during a meeting of the defence ministers of the member countries, which has not yet happened.

He clarified that as and when the terms of reference (ToRs) are finalised, they will be presented before the house prior to their ratification by the government.

He rejected the impression that any statement from Saudi authorities can be the terms of reference. He said the mandate of the IMC is to counter terrorism and any statement from a Saudi dignitary will not affect Pakistan’s foreign policy. The adviser made it clear that Pakistan will never deploy its troops outside Saudi Arabia.

Aziz assured the house that the alliance will not affect Pakistan’s policy, adding it is not correct to say that the coalition is against Iran.

Senator Babar said it is becoming apparent that the Saudi Arabia-led military alliance, headed by former army chief Raheel Sharif, is against Iran and asked the government if it is going to recall the retired general. “We were told that the alliance is against terrorism, but it appears it is against Iran,” Babar said during a Senate session.

Earlier this week, the PPP senator had placed the call-attention notice on the agenda for Thursday’s Senate session to draw the attention of the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs to the media reports that quoted Saudi authorities as saying the alliance will not restrict its activities to terrorist organisations Islamic State (IS), but will also take action against rebel groups posing a threat to any of its member countries on the request from the country concerned.

“Now when the cat is out of the bag, will the government call Raheel Sharif back?” Babar asked, pointing out that one of the conditions of Sharif’s appointment as head of the alliance was that he could be recalled at any time. He further asked why the government had issued a no-objection certificate to Sharif before the alliance’s ToRs were finalised.

“The king of Saudi Arabia has said the alliance is against Iran,” Rabbani said. He wondered whether the government had disowned Sharif because the stance of the alliance towards Iran is contradictory to Pakistan’s own relations with the neighbouring country.

Rabbani reiterated Babar’s questions, asking whether the government had recalled the former army chief. “Has the government disowned Raheel Sharif?” the chairman asked, adding the alliance’s ToRs should be presented to the Senate once they are unveiled and prior to their approval from the federal cabinet.

Responding to another call-attention notice moved by Sehar Kamran, Aziz said activities of India very close to Pakistan’s border in Afghanistan are a source of concern for Islamabad. He said India continues to support subversive activities in Pakistan.

He said the arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and reported deaths of some Indians in the recent blast in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, which is close to Pakistan’s border, clearly shows continuing Indian presence in the neighbouring country, which was orchestrating terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

He said this state terrorism by India was condemnable and needed to end forthwith. He said Pakistan was cognizant of the nefarious designs of New Delhi and was actively taking complete action in this regard. He affirmed Islamabad has effectively highlighted Indian interference in Pakistan at the international fora.

Aziz asserted Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir are continuing unabated and have intensified after the extra-judicial killing of Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani. He said Pakistan strongly condemns Indian barbaric actions in held Kashmir, adding Islamabad will continue its diplomatic, moral, and political support to the people of Kashmir in their just struggle for the right to self-determination.