ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Wednesday hit back at the US, rejecting its anti-Pakistan propaganda and calling Trump remarks ‘unacceptable.’

“Pakistan unanimously rejects the unacceptable targeting of Pakistan by US President Trump in his statement on 21 August 2017 on Afghanistan and South Asia,” says the unanimous resolution - which Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif read out to the House.

It strongly rejected the “hostile and threatening” statements of Trump and Gen John W Nicholson — the top US commander in Afghanistan.

Rejecting US president’s claim that billions of dollars in aid have been given to Pakistan, the resolution noted that Pakistan’s economy has suffered a loss of more than $123 billion in the fight against terrorism.

The resolution also denounced the “disregard of the immense [human] sacrifices” made by Pakistan.

US president in his recent speech announced a new strategy for Afghanistan while denouncing Pakistan for allegedly allowing terrorists to maintain ‘safe havens’ inside its territory.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations,” Trump said, warning that vital aid to Islamabad could be cut.

Recognising the sacrifices of the military and civilian security forces of the country in the fight against terrorism, the house expressed full support for them in their counter-terrorism operations.

Slating Trump’s hollow expression of concern about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets, it said, “As a responsible nuclear weapons state, Pakistan has in place a robust and credible command and control system which has been universally recognised.”

The house also condemned Washington’s call for increased Indian involvement in Afghanistan despite “[India’s] known support to terrorists and destabilising policies in the region”.

It saw the call for an Indian role in Afghanistan’s development as “detrimental to regional stability”, saying it was premised on a “failure to understand existing ground realities and challenges in the region.”

Reiterating Pakistan’s support for India-held Kashmir’s (IHK) struggle for self-determination, the national assembly condemned the state oppression on the people of Kashmir.

Suggested steps

The house urged the government to postpone diplomatic visits between Washington and Islamabad and ‘consider’ taking the following steps:

(1)          Suspension of cooperation with the US, specifically the provision of ground and air lines of communication through Pakistan.

(2)          Draw and inform the US of a blueprint for the dignified return of all Afghan refugees.

(3)          Formulate economic policies to deal with any situation arising out of the absence of US assistance.

(4)          Commence a diplomatic initiative, particularly in friendly countries in the region to inform them of Pakistan’s counter terrorism strategy and successes and the repercussions in the region of failed US policies while reiterating Pakistan’s determination to strengthen control on borders with Afghanistan and demand cooperation and similar action from Afghanistan and ISAF.

Demand for eliminating

Terror sanctuaries

The house expressed concerns about increasing concentration of ISIS and other terrorist networks in Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan and demanded that Afghanistan, US and its allies close borders for leaders of terrorist groups carrying out acts of terrorism against Pakistan.

The resolution said Pakistan seeks the elimination of all safe havens being provided to Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar and other terrorist organisations in Afghanistan from where terror attacks are carried out against Pakistan. The house has also called for the US, Nato and Afghan govt to ensure that India is denied use of Afghan territory to attack Pakistan.

Ties be based on mutual respect

It concludes with a reiteration of a commitment to constructively engage with the US on the full spectrum of bilateral relations based on the principle of reciprocity and mutual respect.

It also reiterates Pakistan’s desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and urges the government to continue its efforts to strengthen its relations with the Afghan government and support efforts for peace.

Voice of whole nation

Winding up the, Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif said the unanimous stance over the issue was a good sign.

“Reaction against Trump’s statement is the voice of the whole country... The whole nation is on one page, we stand united today,” he said.

Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies have given lot of sacrifices to restore peace in the country, he said, adding that US wanted to put the blame of her failure in Afghanistan on Pakistan.

Thin presence

The 342-members house passed the resolution with 56 lawmakers including 26 from opposition side. Minister for foreign affairs Khwaja Asif twice drew attention of the chair towards thin presence in the house.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reached the house almost at the end of session when foreign minister was winding up the debate.

Lawmakers from both sides of aisle asked government to call joint session of parliament to thoroughly debate US news policy and give unanimous stance of the parliament.

“It would have been better to call joint session of parliament after Eidul Azha to debate this matter,” Opposition leader Khursheed Shah said.

Calls for wisdom, insight

Khursheed Shah said that there was no need to take any decision in emotionally at this stage. He criticised government for not appointing any foreign minister in four years. “The biggest reason for failure of foreign policy is the fact that we sidelined our foreign office for so long,” he said.

PML-N senior lawmaker Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in his speech thrice suggested to overhaul the entire narrative towards the United States.

“This issue cannot be resolved by only passing a resolution and condemning the statements in the house,” he said, agreeing with Shah’s suggestion to call the joint session of parliament.

Audit of US aid

About Trump’s statement of giving billions of dollars to Pakistan, Nisar asked his government to issue the record of aid received over the past 20 years to expose US claim. “It’s peanuts...It’s not billions of dollars,” said Nisar.

The former interior minister also suggested an audit of US assistance received in the last 10 years to determine how much money was spent in Pakistan. “It needs to be ascertained that how much they gave and [how much they] took back in any form,” he said.

About Coalition Support Fund (CSF), he clarified that this payment from the US was only for services rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

“If our bill [for military services] is $500 million, they [US concerned departments] sat on it for months and ended up giving only $200 million,” he said, mentioning that the coalition forces had ruined country’s roads and used Pak airspace for years.

He termed it as positive step that the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells was rescheduled.

Recalling his period as interior minister, he said he had called for an “international audit” of US claims that it had paid Pakistan $240 million over five years but received no proper response on it.

Nisar made it clear that peace in Afghanistan is more in the interest of Pakistan than of the US, but there should be equal cooperation from all sides.

About US policy in Afghanistan, he said Pakistan was not responsible for the failure of US and its allies in Afghanistan. He suggested a ‘way forward’ to foreign ministry, saying that Pakistan ask US for evidences of its claims.

PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi, on his turn, also suggested tabulating the ‘claimed’ amount given to Pakistan and everything that was taken in return.

“Let us calculate the amount and then see who has spent more,” he said, mentioning that Pakistan was not in favour of fight. He lauded foreign minister’s plan to visit China, Russia and Turkey for consultations on the new American policy.

He said Pakistan has given a lot of sacrifices. “Our army, police, even civilians have lost their lives in this war; no other country can say they have done as much,” Qureshi said.

MQM’s Farooq Sattar, JI’s Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, JUI-F’s Amir Zaman and others also criticised the US policy.

The resolution said Pakistan seeks the elimination of all safe havens being provided to Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar and other terrorist organisations in Afghanistan from where terror attacks are carried out against Pakistan. The house has also called for the US, Nato and Afghan govt to ensure that India is denied use of Afghan territory to attack Pakistan.

Ties be based on mutual respect

It concludes with a reiteration of a commitment to constructively engage with the US on the full spectrum of bilateral relations based on the principle of reciprocity and mutual respect.

It also reiterates Pakistan’s desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and urges the government to continue its efforts to strengthen its relations with the Afghan government and support efforts for peace.