ISLAMABAD - The Senate, giving policy guidelines to the government on the latest situation arising out of Pak-India tensions, yesterday said it was imperative to counter New Delhi’s initiative to isolate Islamabad.

The house unanimously adopted the report of the Committee of Whole House titled, “policy guidelines in view of the latest situation developing between India and Pakistan”. It contains 22 policy guidelines.

Meanwhile, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani came down hard on the government for sending Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016, directly to the joint sitting of the parliament, bypassing the upper house. “The government has set a dangerous precedent as the Senate is being deprived of its constitutional right to pass or reject the bill,” he said. Rabbani affirmed the house had reservations over the bill passed by the National Assembly. “If this tradition of depriving the Senate of its constitutional right continues, I will go to any extent to fight for this right,” said the chair.

The report, containing 22 policy guidelines, said there was a need to counter India’s initiative to isolate Pakistan amongst its neighbours, Saarc and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members. “Efforts to improve ties with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Iran and the Central Asian republics as well as Russia need to be redoubled, for which parliamentarians and parliamentary committees can play a pivotal role,” it said.

The Committee of the Whole House, in its lengthy discussions on Pakistan-India tensions, had formed a 13-member drafting committee that has finalised this report.

“India’s own fault lines in their alienated Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits as well as the growing Maoist insurgency should be highlighted,” says one of the policy guidelines, adding that services of two official Islamabad-based think tanks should be attached to the relevant parliamentary committees.

The policy guidelines say there is a need to highlight Indian intervention in Pakistan and the Indian spy’s arrest should have been and should be raised at various important international forums along with the human rights violations in Indian-Held Kashmir.

A task force should be constituted to formulate a doable and sustainable India and Kashmir policy that should include the chairs of committees of both houses on defence and foreign affairs as well as representatives of the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and intelligence. It would be appropriate to appoint a full-time foreign minister.

“There should be comprehensive outreach to those segments of Indian public opinion which are opposed to Modi’s extremism and his anti-Pakistan policies, including political parties, media, civil society organisations and human rights groups,” the report of policy guidelines says. It states efficacy and usefulness of back-channel talks between India and Pakistan should be restored.

According to the guidelines, the bilateral and Jammu and Kashmir-related CBMs need to be restored and expanded. There should be a non-episodic role/engagement of OIC in the Kashmir issue. Pakistan should re-establish a public diplomacy office in the Foreign Office. The soil of Pakistan should not be allowed to be used by violent non-state actors, the guidelines add.

They assert the government should hire international lobbyists and strategic communication firms and reactivate Pakistani community living abroad to change global narrative in its favour. The nuclear neighbours should exercise serious caution and restraint when provoked. The report concludes Parliamentary National Security Committee should be reconstituted in consultation with the parliament.

Sharing his views, Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said the Senate condemned the brutalities and human rights violations committed by Indian forces against the innocent people of Occupied Kashmir.

He urged the world community and international organisations to play an effective role in implementation of the UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, asking for a plebiscite in the disputed region.

 “A sincere effort has been made on our part from the platform of the Committee of the Whole House.

 The report covers all the relevant aspects of the situation and lays down the policy guidelines to effectively counter India on the diplomatic side to have these brutalities stopped and ensure right to self-determination to Kashmiris,” he said.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani termed the adoption of the report a significant step towards ensuring parliamentary oversight on foreign policy matters. “The policy guidelines laid down in the report would assist the government to respond to the situation,” Rabbani affirmed.

Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan criticised the Foreign Office for not playing a proactive role in the wake of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan.