ISLAMABAD - The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Sena­tor Mushahid Hussain Sayed has said that in the chang­ing dynamic of International affairs, especially in the re­gional context, Pakistan has adequate strategic space and geopolitical breather which should be used to promote Pakistan’s consistent stand on Kashmir.

He made these remarks during the Senate Foreign Af­fairs Committee meeting held here on Thursday at the Parliament House which was briefed by former Ambas­sador of Pakistan to the United Nations, United States and the United Kingdom, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi on “Paki­stan’s Foreign Policy, Challenges and Opportunities”. Sen­ator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that Pakistan needs to engage more proactively with the international commu­nity by sending envoys who are capable and mobilize the public perception not only with regard to Kashmir issue but towards Pakistan through soft diplomacy.

He remarked that the Afghan peace accord, Trump’s re-election, CPEC and Modi looking inwards due to the severe internal and international backlash on abus­es against minorities and Kashmiris provides Pakistan with strategic space.

Dr. Maleeha Lodhi observed that given the unsettled times in international affairs the notion of power is changing and challenges to multilateralism are growing.

She identified four major challenges for Pakistan in its foreign policy engagement, including navigating Sino-US competition, the Kashmir issue and relations with India, Middle East, Saudi Iran stand-off and the Afghanistan is­sue. She stressed upon the need to evolve clarity on the issues facing us, see objectives we seek and bring consist­ency in our diplomacy. She called for the need to have an OIC ministerial meeting and Human Rights Council spe­cial session on Kashmir. She called for clarity and consist­ency in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy and questioned why, “there is an inexplicable halt in our Kashmir policy”?

The comprehensive and informative briefing by Dr. Maleeha Lodhi led to an extensive discussion in the committee. Senator Rehman Malik observed that all stakeholders, including the politician, from both sides of the aisle, should be on the same page with regard to Pakistan’s principled stand on Kashmir issue and our foreign policy should be focused on engaging all re­gions. Senator Seemi Ezdi recommended preparing a set of recommendations for the foreign office to pro­vide a policy guideline to develop strategies for ad­dressing the challenges of the foreign policy.

Senator Javed Abbasi raised the matter of fall out for Pakistan after the withdrawal of United State from Af­ghanistan given the historical impact of such like previ­ous withdrawal wherein Pakistan had to host hundreds and thousands of refugees. Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar talked about preparing for different tactics and outcomes for achieving our targets in relation to Afghanistan.

Senator Dr. Asif Kirmani remarked that the joint com­muniqué from the recent visit of US President to In­dia was surprising as sacrifices done by Pakistan in the ‘war against terror’ have been totally ignored. Senator Dr. Shehzad Waseem said that we have some objectives and we need to have a proper strategy to achieve those objectives. Senator Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum HI (M) Retd stressed upon the need of careful selection of Ambassa­dors for effective diplomatic endeavours.

During the course of meeting the committee also not­ed that given the volume of work and significance of pro­active approach towards all region of the world there is need to appoint Minister of State for various subjects/ re­gions. Senator Rehman Malik also presented his books to Dr. Maleeha Lodhi. The Committee at the beginning of­fered fatiha for shaheed Wing Commander, Noman Akram who embraced shahadat in a plane crash yesterday.

SENATE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE DEMANDS SETTING UP OF NATIONAL TASK FORCE ON CORONA­VIRUS: The committee also unanimously passed a reso­lution on Coronavirus wherein the government has been urged to declare a health emergency in light of WHO de­claring coronavirus a global pandemic. The govern­ment has been asked to establish a National Emergen­cy Coronavirus Tasks Force under the prime minister with all the chief ministers as members plus other rele­vant stakeholders and the task force shall present its pe­riod report before the Parliament which would be made public. The committee chairman informed that the pan­el will be visiting Line of Control on March 24 to see for themselves the grave human costs of Indian aggression and indiscriminate Indian shelling on innocent civilians.

The meeting was attended by Senators Abdur Rehman Malik, Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Sitara Ayaz, Dr. Asif Kirmani, Syed Shibli Faraz, Dr. She­hzad Waseem, Seemi Ezdi, Abdul Qayyum and senior of­ficials from the Foreign Office.