ISLAMABAD: Opposi­tion parties reacted sharply to the US president’s provocative New Year’s Day tweet on Tuesday, with most calling for a review of Pakistan’s relationship with Washington in the wake of Donald Trump’s remarks.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah demanded that the government convene a joint sitting of parliament to give President Donald Trump “a unified response” to his recent statement against Pakistan.

Saying that this was not a partisan issue, but a matter of concern for all parties, he demanded that Pakistan review its policy towards the US.

“The US president’s remarks about $33 billion in aid reflect his immaturity and narrow-mindedness; the entire nation should demonstrate that we stand united to foil any designs against Pakistan,” he said.

He termed the US president’s statement “quite disappointing”, and said that contrary to the allegation, Pakistan had paid a heavy price for allying itself with the US since 1979. “It is impossible to compensate the losses we have suffered,” he said, adding that Pakistan had been unable to disentangle itself from the quagmire of America’s wars in Afghanistan.

The opposition leader said Pakistan had always facilitated the US in the past, but since 9/11, all it got in return were exhortations to “do more”.

PPP, JI demand special sessions of parliament to discuss Trump’s tweet

He held the current government responsible for the failure of the country’s foreign policy, saying that all of this was happening because the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had not appointed a full-fledged foreign minister for four years.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan also hit out at President Trump, saying that he was ignorant of the basic facts of the war in Afghanistan.

Talking to reporters after a court appearance on Tuesday, the cricketer-turned-politician said that Pakistan had sustained massive financial and human losses in America’s war on terror.

The PTI chief recalled how, when he first criticised America’s invasion of Afghanistan and the stationing of troops in Pakistan’s tribal belt, people had termed him ‘Taliban Khan’.

Mr Khan said that Pakistan had nearly destroyed itself fighting a war that was not its own to begin with, simply for the sake of dollars. “We lost 70,000 lives in America’s war,” he said, adding that Trump’s latest statement should serve as an example… regardless of whatever aid a country offers, ‘‘we should not go to war for its sake”.

Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq also urged the government to frame its foreign policy in a way that safeguards national interests, and echoed the call for convening special sessions of the Senate and the National Assembly to discuss the US president’s statement.

Maintaining that Pakistan is a sovereign nation that will not yield to US pressure, he said that the armed forces and ordinary citizens had rendered immense sacrifices in the battle against terrorism, which had led to the restoration of peace in the country.

When asked about plans to convene a joint session of parliament to discuss Mr Trump’s tweet, PM’s spokesperson Mussadiq Malik said he had no idea how the government would respond to the opposition’s demand. “I will have to check with the quarters concerned,” he said, declining further comment.

In his Jan 1 tweet, President Trump said that the US had provided over $33 billion in funds to Pakistan over 15 years, and alleged that Islamabad had only fed Washington “lies and deceit” while facilitating terrorists who are fighting against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2018



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