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National

September 14, 2017

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National security panel seeks long-term foreign policy

National security panel seeks long-term foreign policy

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on National Security Tuesday recommended the formulation of a long-term foreign policy by taking all the stakeholders into confidence and sought a briefing by the foreign minister and senior military officials in the next meeting.

During the in-camera meeting chaired by Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the members emphasised improvement in diplomatic relations with Afghanistan and formulation of Pakistan’s narrative by taking all the countries in the region on board.

The committee members were given a detailed briefing on the post-Trump statement, Pakistan’s reaction and the visits of Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to different countries.

According to sources, the members expressed dissatisfaction with the briefing of Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua saying that it had nothing new and it would have been better if the foreign minister himself had briefed them.

Janjua told the committee that the Foreign Office was examining the objectives of Trump policy and to determine whether the demand of ‘do more’ was made on the public pressure. She told the committee that Pakistan was in contact with its friends on the US policy and in this regard Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif had met the leaders of China and Iran and their response was encouraging.

Sources said though there was a general agreement on the statement of foreign minister to put our house in order, the remarks should not have come from the foreign minister. Briefing the newsmen after the meeting, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said there was a general agreement in the meeting on the need to put our house in order.

“It was decided in the meeting that all the decisions will be taken with consensus and a long-term foreign policy will be formulated by taking all the stakeholders into confidence,” he said. He said the committee was briefed on what was our reaction to the statement of President Trump, what was the response of those countries which the foreign minister visited and what will be the future strategy to deal with the situation.

“There were some good proposals coming out in the meeting. It was also proposed that Parliament should be taken into confidence. There was a general thinking in the meeting that whatever decision was to be taken should be through the collective wisdom,” he said.

Asked if any suggestions came that Pakistan should counter Trump’s policy towards Pakistan, Ayaz said it was premature to say something on it as ‘we will sit together and then formulate recommendations.’

He said different suggestions came up in the meeting about how to handle it.  “Some opined that the issue should be handled aggressively, some opined that the door should remain open while some opined that the door of negotiations should not be closed, so ultimately this issue will be handled when we sit together,” he said. Asked whether the Foreign Office had determined what were the objectives of Trump policy and whether it was the outcome of pressure or the US wanted to make a demand of ‘do more’, Ayaz said in his opinion after the US President’s statement, the National Security Committee held a meeting and Parliament passed a resolution, which conveyed a clear message to the United States that they had made a wrong statement in haste.

Asked whether it was also discussed that Pakistan had to make some decisions to put its own house in order, Ayaz Sadiq said it was also discussed as the foreign and interior ministers had also stated that there were some areas where we need to put our house in order and these areas were identified in the meeting.

Asked if there was any agreement among the committee members on the need to put the house in order, he said there was a general agreement on correcting our weaknesses. He said in the next committee meeting the issue of National Action Plan would be discussed.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar and Senator Sherry Rehman of PPP, PKMPA chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of ANP, Dr Shireen Mazari of PTI, PML (Zia) chief Ijazul Haq, Sahibzada Tariqullah and Dr Farooq Sattar of MQM (Pakistan), Tariq Bashir Cheema of PML-Q, Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir, Minister for Port and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the meeting.

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