ISLAMABAD -  While questioning the rationale behind the closure of border with Afghanistan, opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly on Tuesday said that terrorism could not be defeated only by closing border crossings with the land-locked neighbour.

The opposition MNAs also criticised the government for its ‘lopsided’ foreign policy .

The opposition lawmakers, while speaking on a motion about the country’s foreign policy , censured the government for not appointing a permanent foreign minister.

On Monday, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif told the House that it was the right of government to close borders with Afghanistan in view of national security.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Shireen Mazari strongly criticised the country’s foreign policy vis-à-vis tackling issues with neighbouring countries.

“The defence minister is unaware of the status of border with Afghanistan. Closing the border is not a solution to deal with terrorism,” she said demanding that the defence minister turn up in the Parliament and clarify his position.

“If the elimination of terrorism is the reason for closing the border, why the government has not closed the Wahga border,” Mazari asked.

Jamaat-e-Islami’s parliamentary leader Sahibzada Tariq Ullah said that there was a need of maintaining good relations with neighbouring countries. “A joint session should be called to discuss different angles of the foreign policy ,” he said asking the government to appoint a permanent foreign minister.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal lawmaker Naeema Kishwar questioned the very rationale behind the closure of border with Afghanistan. “The foreign policy should be shaped in the National Assembly,” he said. Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Sheikh Salahuddin also asked the government to maintain good relations with neighbouring countries.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Abdul Manan lauded the government’s foreign policy . “Pakistan will close borders with the rest of the world when it comes to the national security,” he said.

PTI lawmaker Ayesha Gullali said that the closure of border with Afghan was not the solution to the (terrorism) issue. “The government should shape a constructive foreign policy to deal with important matters,” she said.

Pakistan People’s Party lawmaker Shazia Marri asked the government to appoint a full-fledged foreign minister. “There is a need to clarify the foreign policy ,” she said.

Shahida Rehmani of the PPP raised her voice against the non-appointment of a foreign minister in the last over three years. “There is a need to keep good relations with neighbouring countries,” she said.

Independent lawmaker Jamshed Dasti criticised country’s foreign policy . “Trump and Modi are dealing the government’s foreign policy ,” Dasti said sarcastically.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch while concluding the debate said that the purpose of closing border with Afghanistan was national security. He said that Pakistani soldiers were killed along the border recently. “Negotiations are going on with Afghanistan and hopefully matters related to border issues will be resolved soon,” he said.

He said that Pakistan was ready to remove reservations of Afghanistan. “If Afghanistan wants to have relations with Pakistan as dictated by India, it is not acceptable,” he said.

He said that Pakistan will not heed to dictations of any country.

While responding to the criticism over non-appointment of the foreign minister, he said that government has its advisers to deal with the issue. “Sartaj Aziz is competent enough and dealing with matters in a good manner,” he said.

While talking about the temporarily displaced persons (TDPs), he said that 80 percent of them have returned to Fata while the remaining 20 percent would return by April 30.

Responding to a calling attention notice, he said that it has been decided with the consensus of tribal people that they would be given cash for rehabilitation and reconstruction of their houses.

The house was abruptly adjourned when Abdul Sattar Bachani of the PPP pointed out quorum.

Earlier, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance and Revenue Rana Muhammad Afzal apprised the House that all provincial governments were on board and the population census was going to be started in the next few days.

Earlier, eleven bills were introduced in the house. These included The Microfinance Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2017, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Children (Pledging of Labour) (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Islamabad Capital Territory Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill, 2017, The Islamabad Capital Territory Prohibition of Private Money Lending Bill, 2017 and The Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

A resolution was adopted by the House to take steps to control unemployment in the country.