ISLAMABAD - The Senate on Wednesday unanimously adopted the “Initial response to the US President’s Afghan – South Asia Policy statement” saying that plan ignored Pakistan’s perspective and the US military escalation in the neighbouring country would destabilise Pakistan and the region.

The policy guidelines “Initial Response to the US President’s Afghan–South Asia Policy statement” asked the government to initiate parliamentary diplomacy on immediate basis and called for a regional diplomatic initiative to respond to the US president’s Afghan strategy and his diatribe against Pakistan questioning its efforts on the war on terror.

It also asks the government to immediately call the joint session of the parliament to ratify Pakistan’s response.

The house adopted the policy guidelines, finalised by the Committee of the Whole House, through a motion moved by the Leader of the House, Raja Zafarul Haq. Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said the matter would remain under constant review of the Upper House.

The guidelines say that Pakistan should note that “military escalation in Afghanistan”, as desired by the US, will “destabilise Pakistan and the region and have negative consequences for Europe as well, given the threat of extremism and terrorism; on Afghanistan.”

The initial response comprises “immediate steps” and “what is to be done” by the government, and calls President Trump’s strategy “one-sided” that ignored Pakistan’s perspective and undermined Pakistan’s sacrifices and its role in the war on terror.

It said that Pakistan’s legitimate concerns regarding expanding ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan used as sanctuaries/safe havens for orchestrating terrorist attacks inside Pakistan have been completely ignored in the strategy.

“Ending violence in Afghanistan requires elimination of these sanctuaries. The Afghan war cannot be fought on Pakistan [soil].”

It says that the proposed enhanced role of India in Afghanistan would only accentuate the insatiability not only in Afghanistan but also in the broader region.

The “immediate steps” obligate the government to convey the concerns of Pakistan and its people, as reflected in the debates of the Senate and discussions of the Committee of the Whole, by summoning the American ambassador and informing him of the same.

It binds the Minister for Foreign Affairs to present a fact sheet to Washington about Pakistan’s contributions and sacrifices in the war against terror and the logistics provided by Pakistan on the ground and in the air to the US/Nato troops and their specific economic implications.

It says that a fact sheet on American assistance to Pakistan should also be immediately released portraying actual picture.

The guidelines embedded in “What is to be done” by the government include, putting forth a clear national narrative of Pakistan to serve as a document for the US policymakers; a regional diplomatic initiative to be taken to coordinate Pakistan’s response to the US president’s Afghan strategy in consultation with the friendly countries, particularly in the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

It should be highlighted at every fora that “India cannot be net security provider in the South Asian region given its conflictual relationship with all its neighbours.”

It asks the government to formulate South Asia policy in a way that there should be efforts to peacefully resolve the Kashmir dispute.

On Afghanistan, the guidelines say, Pakistan should emphasise that “the territory of no State can be used for causing terrorist activities in any other State and particularly refer to TTP hideouts and sanctuaries in Afghanistan, which operate freely.”

And Pakistan should maintain its principled stand that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

The house proposed that Pakistan needed to present a clear dossier on India’s cross-border terrorism with names, dates and unimpeachable evidence, including the Kulbhushan Yadav case, to focus on Indian actions to destabilise Pakistan, particularly using territory of Afghanistan and such a dossier be presented to select Western capitals especially Brussels and the UN headquarters.

“Pakistan needs to make out a clear case that militants like Moulvi Fazlullah and others hiding in Afghanistan operate against Pakistan. At the same time, similar allegations by Afghanistan, need to be looked more closely and such elements, if any, must be neutralised.”

The guidelines ask the government that there is need for a mutually-acceptable verification mechanism to look into the allegations by both Pakistan and Afghanistan of cross-border violation.

Pakistan may highlight the drawbacks of the continued military campaign in Afghanistan, which has failed to bring stability to the region.

The house categorically rejected the blame both by Afghanistan and the US for any of Pakistan’s destabilising role.

Parliamentary diplomacy should be initiated on immediate basis, particularly lobbying with those US senators and congressmen who are critical of the US president’s policy required and world parliaments should be informed of the seriousness of the situation in the region and its implications if continued.

Immediate meeting of Pakistan’s ambassadors and high commissioners posted abroad be called to take them on board and specific tasks, in view of the given situation, be given.

Likewise, ambassadors and high commissioners in Islamabad should be immediately called to the Foreign Office and Pakistan’s response should be conveyed to them.

The house advised the government that the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism (QCCM) comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Tajikistan needed to be made more pro-active to countering terrorism and extremism within the regional framework.

It proposed that a permanent media coordination committee should be formed to prepare Pakistan’s national narrative and it should interact with international media and think tanks as well as the academia.

Besides this, the establishment of a permanent inter-ministerial task force preferably led by Parliament has been proposed to prepare a rapid response to the evolving geo-political, national security and foreign policy developments to avoid tardy response as was done after President Trump’s speech.

The Senate of Pakistan through the document has welcomed the formation of “Pak-Afghan Army Working Group” to jointly work for eradication of terrorism in the region.

After the adoption of the policy guidelines, the Senate chairman directed the Foreign Office to send copies of this report to Pakistan’s missions abroad and the ambassadors and high commissioners of other countries posted in Pakistan, and an implementation report be submitted in the next session of the Senate, which is scheduled to commence from 11th September.

The chair remarked that the matter would remain under constant review of the Senate, given its evolving nature, and the guidelines/response would further shape up in the wake of emerging situation and developments.

He said that adoption of the unanimous policy guidelines reflected that parliament was responsive whenever there was a crisis-like situation.

The Senate chairman said that all the stakeholders including Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defense were taken on board to finalise the response, and added that these consultations should continue under the umbrella of parliament.

The PTI Senator Azam Khan Swati said that Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Aizaz Chaudhry should be immediately called back and sacked for his failure to portray Pakistan’s view point effectively in Washington.

PPP Senator Taj Haider asked to evolve the mechanism to oversee the implementation of policy guidelines.