ISLAMABAD: A joint session of Parliament was held on Wednesday to discuss the Indian aggression at the Line of Control (LoC) as well as the foreign policy matters after India had pledged to "isolate Pakistan".
Read more: Hopes from joint session
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq opened the session by welcoming PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was present in the speaker gallery. PPP lawmakers greeted the announcement with applause and thumping of desks.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the first to address the lawmakers present in the assembly on the Kashmir issue.
We want peace, we are against war: PM Nawaz
The prime minister opened his speech by talking about the freedom struggle upheld by the youth of Kashmir who were fighting against "Indian aggression and atrocities".
"World powers need to ensure that UN resolutions on Kashmir should be implemented in letter and spirit," he said.
"We have done everything to make India come to the dialogue table, but india did not let it happen. Our efforts were thwarted over and over again. I would like to repeat our stance that we are against war. We want peace in the region. We want to resolve all outstanding disputes through dialogue."
Touching on India's allegations of Pakistan's involvement in the Uri base attack, Nawaz said: "Without carrying out any investigation, India blamed Pakistan within a few hours of the attack. Through this one can see what India's motives are.
"On Sept 28, India’s ceasefire violation resulted in the death of our two soldiers. It was befittingly responded and was conveyed that Pakistan Army is fully capable to respond to any aggression."
In an apparent response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement that India and Pakistan should battle to eradicate poverty, Nawaz said: "If they want us to fight with them to end poverty, then they should realise that poverty cannot be eradicated by driving tanks on farmlands."
The premier further said: "If their desire is to challenge us to eradicate poverty, if they desire to take us on to end unemployment, if they want to fight us to see who provides welfare and well-being to its citizens then I want to inform them that it cannot be done with blood and ammunition.
"The fields that are ploughed with explosives do not blossom with the flowers of well-being and employment.
"If you really want to see a revolution into the lives of the people of Subcontinent, then you need to act upon your statements."
Why does Pakistan feel isolated, asks Khursheed Shah
Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah was the next to speak, he said: "Why does Pakistan feel isolated at the international arena?"
"Why is our foreign policy so weak, why are we lonely?" asked the senior PPP leader. "We have to realise our mistakes and choose better path for the future. Our policies have led to this stage, where Bangladesh is also against us."
Throwing light on the Tashkent Treaty, Shah stated: "Kashmir could have been solved in Tashkent but our weak diplomacy became a noose around our neck."
Shah drew some laughs from lawmakers when he accidentally said "Kulbushan Wani" instead of Kulbushan Jadhav in reference to the Indian spy, who is in the custody of the security forces.
Speaking on the Indian premier's refusal to participate in the Saarc conference in Islamabad next month, Shah said: "They [India] have tried to isolate us diplomatically. The Saarc conference is before you. Five countries refused to attend it. We should have preempted such developments."
Talking about India's unwillingness to resolve the outstanding Kashmir dispute, he added: "We need to tell the world that India cannot run away from what is on the record. Why is the UN not resolving the Kashmir issue? Jawaharlal Nehru admitted this many times that Kashmir dispute should be resolved as per the will of the Kashmiri people.
"We all are united for Kashmir as per PPP's fundamental policy. We have a firm believe that Kashmiris will get their rights. The victory will be of Kashmiris and Pakistan."
There was some jovial back and forth between Shah and Speaker Sadiq when Shah complained mid-speech that he did not have a podium on which to place his speech document.
"You should have arranged for this before," said Shah with a smile, to which Sadiq responded, "You should have asked before."
The house erupted into laughter when Shah made a witty remark signalling to the podium placed in front Nawaz. "Let's switch it around — he [the PM] can come here, and I can go in his place." Much to everyone's amusement, he wondered out loud what his party's political leadership must be thinking of his deal making.
Fazl talks about Kashmir
Kashmir Committee Chairman Fazlur Rehman addressed the lawmakers next, and questioned India's attempts to secure condemnations over the attack on Uri base.
"We are asked to condemn the Uri attack, but what about those innocent and helpless Kashmiris who are subject to India's brutality?"
Senior lawmakers of all political parties attended the session, with the exception of PTI lawmakers and their chairman Imran Khan.
Imran stunned both allies and critics when he announced on Tuesday his party’s intention to boycott the joint sitting of parliament over what he said is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's failure to present himself for accountability.
Party insiders had told Dawn that while most PTI parliamentarians wanted to stay put in Parliament House to fight their case, the party chairman — supported by a group of unelected party leaders — decided otherwise.
Purpose of joint session
Earlier this week, the government had sent a summary to the Presidency seeking President Mamnoon Hussain’s approval for holding a joint session of parliament to discuss the issue of alleged ‘surgical strikes’ by Indian forces across the Line of Control (LoC).
Although Pakistan’s civil and military leadership had categorically denied any surgical strike by Indian forces, escalating tension on the LoC compelled Nawaz Sharif to hold the joint session of parliament.
“The Joint session of Parliament will be convened to reaffirm the national resolve for safeguarding the sovereignty and preserving the territorial integrity of the motherland against any external or internal threat as well as reiterating the moral, political, and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir,” Nawaz had said.