Rabbani wants parliament’s joint sitting to discuss Pompeo’s statement

Updated March 20, 2019

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PPP Senator Raza Rabbani expresses concern over US secretary of state's statement. — APP/File
PPP Senator Raza Rabbani expresses concern over US secretary of state's statement. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan Peoples Party has asked the government to immediately call a joint sitting of parliament to take the nation into confidence on its response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent statement about Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Mr Rabbani in a statement on Tuesday expressed concern over the US secretary’s remarks and termed it “perhaps the most serious aspersion on the country’s deterrent nuclear programme”.

Mr Pompeo had declared proliferation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme a threat to the American security.

US secretary of state has declared proliferation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme a threat to American security

“The statement of the US secretary of state which appeared in the media on Tuesday about Pakistan’s nuclear programme is a matter of deep concern and is condemned in the strongest terms,” the senator said.

He said that considering the nuclear proliferation risks that extended from Pakistan, as alleged by the US secretary to be one of five threats the US was facing, had exposed the real designs behind building India the policeman of the region.

While giving an interview to an American radio broadcaster, the US secretary of state had reportedly stated that there were five big issues that threatened the American security and one of them was proliferation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Mr Pompeo had blamed Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists, adding that no other administration but the current US administration had taken some action against Pakistan on the issue.

“We need Pakistan to do more. They have to stop harbouring this terror. We saw what happened with India. The conflict that rose there as a result of terrorists that departed from Pakistan.... They need to stop harbouring terrorists,” the US secretary had reportedly said in the interview.

Mr Rabbani said that while defining its regional policy some time ago, the US had singled out Pakistan and China and Mr Pompeo had called to block aid to Chinese allies in August last year.

Similarly, the senator recalled that the US secretary had previously issued a similar statement, saying that the bailout of the International Monetary Fund for Pakistan must not be used to help repay Chinese loans that Islamabad had incurred during the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Moreover, he said, the US had refused to pay the expenditures incurred by Pakistan for and on its behalf it in the war on terror.

Mr Rabbai, who had served as the Senate chairman, said that the joint sitting of parliament should also be briefed on the implementation status of the National Action Plan against terrorism.

Responding to a planned meeting of the parliamentary leaders called by the government to brief them on NAP, he said it would not be sufficient as parliament as a whole needed to be taken into confidence.

“The government cannot deny individual members of parliament of the right to be kept informed of its policy on matters of national security,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019