Monday October 18, 2021

Qatar crisis: Pakistan ready for mediation

ASTANA (Kazakhstan): Pakistan is all set to mediate among the Gulf countries and is going to undertake a multi-pronged diplomatic initiative for resolving the crisis in the Arab world.

Islamabad will put up efforts to stall escalation of tension between the brotherly countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as the first step.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has planned to visit Saudi Arabia on June 22 and before that he would also dash to Kuwait and Qatar as part of his reconciliation efforts. 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disturbed over the situation in the region, while talking to the media on way to Astana, assured that Pakistan would do all it could to amicably resolve the crisis through diplomacy. He reminded that Pakistan enjoyed itself good relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar, and would try its best to resolve the differences among the Arab countries. He impressed upon the Muslim world to play its role in ending the crisis. 

The prime minister, who is accompanied by first lady Begum Kulsum Nawaz, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, federal minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir and Jam Kamla Khan, was warmly received at the Astana airport. 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani requested a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and it was likely that it could take place today. The prime minister, having a hectic schedule today (Friday), will also have a meeting with the president of Magnolia. 

The sources said that a chance meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Modi is possible on the sidelines of the summit, during other official events.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev soon after his arrival here. The prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s strong commitment to cooperation with Kazakhstan in energy sector, regional connectivity and human resource development. He also underscored the need for enhancing trade between the two countries, which was much less than the potential. The prime minister expressed the hope that the outcome of the ongoing SCO Summit would result in paving the way for cooperation and economic prosperity of the people of the region. 

Later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He said that Pakistan cherished its close, friendly and fraternal relations with Uzbekistan, as both the countries are bound by strong commonalities of history, faith and culture. Pakistan is keen to further expand ties in all fields, particularly economic and energy cooperation, connectivity and human resource development, said the prime minister. 

He expressed the desire of taking bilateral relations to new heights based on mutually beneficial cooperation. “Pakistan is keen to further expand ties in all fields, particularlyeconomic and energy cooperation, connectivity and human resource development,” added the prime minister. He said that Uzbekistan’s impressive annual economic growth and rich energy resources, and Pakistan's large industrial and agricultural base provided an ideal environment for expansion of trade and commercial cooperation between the two countries. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposed that both countries worked together for making appropriate reforms in trade policies to facilitate trade, investment and free flow of goods and services between Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Besides the SCO Summit, Kazakhstan is also hosting the International Expo 2017, in which more than 100 countries including Pakistan are participating. 

The prime minister along with other participating SCO heads of states will also attend the inaugural ceremony of the Expo. Pakistan will become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) today (Friday) here in the capital city of largest Central Asian State Kazakhstan in the presence of Chinese and Russian presidents and five other significant countries leaders of the region. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will ink the agreement of full membership of the organisation in a prestigious ceremony which will represent over 40 percent of humanity and nearly 20 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). India will also become member of the SCO simultaneously. 

The SCO will also become an ideal platform for members with disputes to solve their problems bilaterally based on the Shanghai Spirit.  The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed resolution expressing the resolve that Pakistan should remain impartial in the Gulf crisis.

The NA expressed deep concern over recent developments in relations involving brotherly Muslim states in the Gulf region, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and terror attack on the Iranian parliament and mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The members while strongly condemning the terrorist attacks in Iran said the whole nation stands with the Iranian brethren in this hour of grief. They said that terrorism is a common threat and collective efforts are needed for its eradication.

Speaking on the issue of diplomatic rift among some Muslim countries, the members said that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and all other Muslim countries are equally important for Pakistan. They said that Pakistan should play a neutral role to mediate for the amicable resolution of the differences among the Muslim countries.

The House in a resolution moved by Law Minister Zahid Hamid called upon all countries to show restraint and resolve all differences through dialogue. The House also called upon the government to take concrete steps towards forging unity amongst the Muslim Ummah in the religion in accordance with parliament’s unanimous resolution of February 2015.

At the outset of proceedings, the House offered Fateha for martyred in the terrorist attacks in Iran. The House in a resolution moved by the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief Aftab Sherpao expressed its solidarity with the people and parliament of Iran. 

“The House reiterates its resolve to jointly combat the menace of terrorism without terror in the region,” said the resolution. Apart from speeches on budgetary recommendations, the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle consumed half of the time on Middle East crisis and terrorist attacks in Iran.

Aftab Sherpao, before the passage of resolution, stressed the need of proactive role by the government of Pakistan, observing that a briefing on national security should also be given to the Parliament.

The proposal was immediately supported by PTI’s Dr Shireen Mazari. She said the Saudi-led military alliance should be disowned by Pakistan till the finalisation of complete terms of reference (ToRs). 

Naveed Qamar of the PPP stressed the need to carefully watch internal security in the current scenario. Opposition lawmakers walked out of the House for not getting live telecast of speeches on the state-run television. They did not return till the adjournment of the sitting.

Taking part in the discussion on the federal budget, Iftikharuddin said steps should be taken for the promotion of tourism in the country, particularly in the Northern Areas. He said the security clearance of the tourists should also be made easy on fast track.

Rajab Ali Baloch said the opposition leader has made small parties hostage and they are not being allowed to speak about the problems of their constituencies. He said the members of the small political parties should participate in the budget discussion to present their point of view.

Tehmina Daultana said the PML-N has sacrificed a lot for strengthening democracy in the country. She said it is result of the efforts of the government that a balanced and pro-people budget has been presented in the House.

Iftikhar Nazir congratulated the government on presenting a balanced budget. He said the completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project will open new avenues of development in the country besides creation of job opportunities.

Among others who spoke on the occasion include Javed Latif, Sabiha Nazir, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Muhammad Khan Daha, Farhana Qamar, Waheed Alam Khan, Pir Syed Muhammad Aslam Bodla, Nisar Ahmad Jatt, Kiran Haider, Syed Ayaz Ali Shah Sherazi, Romina Khursheed Alam and Chaudhry Hamid Hameed.  

NNI adds: Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan had serious concerns over the tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and wanted a better solution to the issue.

Expressing concern over the Indian violations of Line of Control and Working Boundary, he said India was playing havoc with the peace and stability of the region. He said Pakistan strongly condemned the atrocities perpetrated by Indian forces in Kashmir. He said Indian barbarism could not suppress the Kashmiri people’s just struggle for right to self-determination.

Pakistan had warned India against making any strategic miscalculation. Responding to questions at the weekly news briefing, Nafees Zakaria said it appeared that India was seeking a conflict with Pakistan. He categorically stated that Pakistan had no desire to escalate tension but armed forces of Pakistan would respond effectively to any unprovoked violation from Indian side. He said Pakistan had always exercised restraint but Indian belligerence was a threat to regional peace and security.