ISLAMABAD: Speaking about what he described as successes of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government in the country’s foreign affairs, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the Senate on Thursday that those lobbying against Pakistan had failed and the country was being praised for its role in the recently held talks between the United States and Taliban.
He was responding to a calling-attention notice by Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan Peoples Party that the government was not taking parliament into confidence regarding decisions taken by it during recent visits by the country’s top leadership to Gulf countries, Malaysia and China.
The foreign minister said Pakistan had been successful in maintaining its neutrality and conveying its point of view even to those nations that were currently not enjoying cordial relations with one another.
Mr Qureshi considered it a success that while there was no change in Pakistan’s neutral stance in the Yemen conflict, “Prime Minister Imran Khan has had a state visit to Saudi Arabia in 30 years”.
Says Islamabad has been successful in maintaining neutrality in Yemen conflict
He said that the role of Pakistan in the recent Taliban-US talks had been acknowledged by all.
Terming the talks a major shift in the American policy, the foreign minister said it had always been Pakistan’s stance that peace could only come through negotiations.
In his speech, Mr Rabbani criticised the government for what he called overplaying the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, saying that the Indian government had almost ridiculed Pakistan on the occasion and criticised it on other issues.
“The house has not even been informed about the details of the Taliban-US talks,” he added.
Mr Rabbani said there were reports that Pakistan had decided to support Saudi Arabia, wondering if it meant that the country was taking sides in the Yemen conflict and not maintaining neutrality.
The foreign minister began his speech in a calm tone by telling the house that he had briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Relations headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on all these issues.
“We are working on our policy lines,” he said, adding that some decisions had been made public and some were under discussion.
The foreign minister said Pakistan had gained a big diplomatic success through the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, adding that the event had improved the image of Pakistan among Sikh people all over the world. “India had to conduct the groundbreaking ceremony (of the Kartarpur corridor) a day earlier to remain in the limelight.”
The foreign minister criticised the Indian leadership for its aggressive statements against Pakistan.
Dismissing the impression being given by some quarters that the two Indian ministers, who attended the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, visited Pakistan in their personal capacity, Mr Qureshi said that such an occurrence was not possible in Pakistan-India context.
He criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership for trying to use the event in the party’s favour in the local elections in India. The foreign minister said that because of the diplomacy of the PTI government, Pakistan’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar were improving.
Speaking about Pakistan’s relations with China, he said that some vested interests were trying to spread misconceptions about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The only change in the economic corridor project was that its focus was shifting from infrastructure development to industrial and agricultural growth, he added.
Addressing Senator Sherry Rehman of the PPP and Senator Mushahid Hussain of the PML-N, Mr Qureshi said that there should be a national strategy for formation of the country’s foreign policy. He also called for highlighting Indian troops’ atrocities against the people of held Kashmir.
Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2018