ISLAMABAD - The opposition in the Senate on Friday questioned Prime Minister Imran Khan whether his remarks made at Davos that “Afghanistan was their first priority” should be taken as his government’s deviation from Pakistan’s stated foreign policy that “Kashmir is on its top priority.”

The opposition also sought a policy statement from PM over Pakistan’s relations with China and US, asking him to clarify whether there was an official paradigm shift in country’s foreign policy that Pakistan is changing its focus from China again back to US?

The lawmakers also criticised the speech of Senior US diplomat Alice Wells during his recent visit to Pakistan saying that there was no transparency in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, and stressing Pakistan to rethink its involvement with it. In her speech at a local think tank, she said CPEC was a debt trap for Pakistan and Chinses companies blacklisted by the World Bank had got contracts in the project.

The parliamentary leader of PPP in the Senate Sherry Rehman, speaking on a point of public concern, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan this week on an important international forum in Davos clearly said his first priority was Afghanistan. “Has the government taken a U-turn on Kashmir? Should the pain and anguish of Kashmir not feature first in that scale of priorities?” She questioned either it was a usual slip of tongue by the PM or it indicates a major shift in terms of the foreign policy. “The parliament has not been informed about it so far.”

The PPP Senator said that all political parties had roots in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and the local chapters of parties in the region were asking from them what they were doing. She demanded that the PM himself should come and tell the house about priorities of government on its foreign policy.  National Party Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, on the occasion, said the PTI government has started showing its tilt again back to US after building a strong partnership with China over CPEC.

Bizenjo sought ruling from the chair to call PM to give a statement in the house about Pakistan’s relations with China and US diplomat’s remarks. “Whether we are rolling back the CPEC and if you have decided, then move ahead to do this but don’t confuse the nation,” he said.

PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed endorsed Bizenjo and said that the issue needed to be clarified. He said that this was the second statement made by US official at Institute of Strategic Studies, an official think tank of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “What she said has already been rebutted and factually incorrect,” he said.

Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz, responding to the questions of the opposition lawmakers, said: “There is no truth in such impression because as a sovereign nation, our foreign policy is based the fact that it has to make friendships with very country.” He said that the PM was very categorical in his remarks at Davos when he said that it was a non-sense that Pakistan would be in a debt trap due to CEPC.

He assured that house that the PM and the foreign minister would come and brief the house holistically about the government’s foreign policy.

Separately, the opposition did not allow the government to lay the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights (Amendment) Ordinance before the house despite an insistence from the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Senator Azam Khan Swati.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi wondered there was no need to lay the ordinance that was only meant to bring an amendment in the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill which was already under consideration before the house committee. He stressed that any member can propose an amendment in the bill either in the committee on in the house. However, the minister stressed that the ordinance should be laid before the house to bring an amendment in the draft bill already pending before the committee. The chair deferred the matter till Monday.

PML-N Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan lashed out at Law Minister Farogn Naseem for his remarks made in the house about him, last week. The law minister has asked Mushahid “to keep in mind in future what he had said.”