• Opposition rejects Sartaj’s policy statement

      January 06, 2016
      Print : Top Story

      S Arabia-Iran conflict

      Sartaj tells NA Pakistan to play positive role
      in bridging divide; three bills introduced in NA

      ISLAMABAD: The opposition has rejected the stance of Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz who told the National Assembly (NA) on Monday that Pakistan would continue to play a positive role as an important member of the OIC, and friends of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran will bridge the divide and improve the relationship between the two countries.

      “After the visit of the kingdom’s foreign minister to Pakistan on Thursday, I will be able to give a more detailed statement on the issue of tension between Iran and the kingdom and other related issues,” he added.

      While making a brief statement regarding the ongoing conflict between the two countries, Aziz also agreed with the proposal of an in-camera briefing to parliamentarians with regard to the ongoing conflict between the kingdom and Iran. He hoped that the kingdom and Iran will be able to restore relations through dialogue sooner or later. He said it is the responsibility of both the states to provide safety to diplomatic missions.

      Aziz said that for the last two and a half years, our foreign policy is very active and it has achieved a number of successes in terms of improving relations with different countries. He said that tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a very sensitive issue and the government is playing a positive and balanced role in this regard. He assured the House that the opinion of members of the House will also be taken in this regard.

      However, following his brief policy statement, Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah rejected it asking what kind of role Pakistan will play in this regard. He criticised the PM’s tour to Sri Lanka at such a critical time and said he fears that Pakistan will become a battlefield. On a point of order, he said Pakistan should play an active and positive role to resolve the present tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran and to bring them closer to each other.

      He said this was the time when the PM should visit Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries with wisdom like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to resolve this issue. He opined that the statement of the Advisor will further confuse parliament. He demanded the government hold an in-camera briefing for parliamentary leaders.

      PTI leader Shireen Mazari said that the issue is very sensitive and the government should have an even-handed approach towards it. She said that the government should prepare a clear policy on the issue and regretted that the Advisor just read out a newspaper report.

      On the issue, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Asif Hasnain asked the PM to cut short his visit to Sri Lanka and take parliament into confidence over the government’s policy.Another opposition member, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, termed the Foreign Office as a “mafia”. He advised that the government and opposition should be on the same page on the issue of Saudi Arabia-Iran ties.

      Sahibzada Tariqullah, Syed Asif Hasnain and Shah G Gul Afridi also spoke on the issue and demanded that the government should take the House into confidence on the strategy adopted by the government in this regard. They suggested that the government should immediately send delegations to Saudi Arabia and Iran to resolve the issue between them. They also suggested that Pakistan should demand convening of an OIC meeting and summit of Islamic countries to discuss the issue.

      Replying to various points raised by the members, Sartaj Aziz dispelled the impression that there is no foreign policy of the government. He said for the last two and a half years, the foreign policy is very active and it has achieved a number of successes in terms of improving relations with different countries particularly neighbouring countries including China, India and Afghanistan. He said the situation is rapidly changing. He said tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a very sensitive issue and the government is playing a positive and balanced role on the issue. He assured the House that the opinion the members of the House will also be taken into confidence in this regard. He said the government’s foremost priority is to safeguard the national and security interests of the country.

      Meanwhile, three private members’ bills were also introduced in the House. These are “The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016” moved by Dr. Nikhat Shakeel Khan, “The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2016” by Asiya Nasir and “The National Conflict of Interest Bill, 2016” moved by Murad Saeed.

      The chair referred the bills to the standing committees concerned for deliberations.APP adds: Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid informed the NA that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) was making efforts to stop indecent advertisements against the country’s norms and values on TV channels under the relevant laws.

      Replying to a call attention notice raised by Muhammad Jamaluddin regarding ‘indecent’ advertisements on TV channels despite enforcement of the Indecent Advertisement Prohibition Act, 1963, he said that the Pemra has not only issued notices and warnings to the TV channels for airing advertisements against societal norms and values but also imposed fines.

      Pemra always took action against those TV channels which violated the set rules under the laws, he added.He said “the honourable member drew attention towards an important issue and we have also concern as TV programmes including news, dramas are being watched jointly at homes.”

      The minister said that a fine of Rs1 million each, was imposed on a private TV channel and All Satellite for violation. However, he said Pemra imposed a fine but the channels got stay orders from the courts. He said that he has a long list of TV channels which were fined and issued warnings in this regard.