• PPP assails ‘confused’ foreign policy
• Tarin shares details of $3bn Saudi loan, oil deal
ISLAMABAD: Senators of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), an ally of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led ruling coalition, staged a walkout from the upper house of parliament on Friday warning the ruling party that they could not move forward if they were not given due representation at the federal level.
“We cannot move forward like this. We will support you only if we are taken seriously, otherwise, we do not need to attend sessions,” said Senator Prince Ahmed Umar Ahmadzai before announcing a walkout from the Senate.
Seeking his party’s exclusion from what he called The Grey List, the senator said the BAP had remained underrepresented at the federal level for past three and a half years.
About the sense of deprivation prevailing in Balochistan, he said little attention was being paid to incomplete projects such as Katchi canal project, while no person from the province had ever been appointed to head the National Bank of Pakistan.
He also warned that their party lawmakers would boycott Senate sessions if they wouldn’t get proper representation in the upper house. He reiterated the demand that the federal government exclude the BAP from The Grey List.
Another BAP senator, Anwarul Haq Kakar, said the BAP wanted rights for the people of the province where humans and animals had to drink water from the same place. “We are being pushed to the wall. Have mercy on the people of Balochistan,” he remarked while talking about gas and electricity issues.
Even after the BAP senators returned to the House, their protest continued.
Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem tried to diffuse the situation by stating that Pakistan could not move forward without resolving problems of Balochistan. He said the matter of increasing Balochistan’s representation should be given a serious thought.
PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman raised questions over what she called a ‘confused’ foreign policy.
She said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks that the United States had always used Pakistan were in sharp contrast to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s claim about the broad-based relationship with the US that was still Pakistan’s largest export market. She argued that PM’s remarks formed a policy statement. “If we have been used, the responsibility for it has also to be accepted,” she said.
However, former chairman of Senate and PPP lawmaker Mian Raza Rabbani believed the country’s foreign policy had no link with the government, as it was decided by the state. “PM’s statement is nothing more than good cop and bad cop,” he added.
The state had inclination towards the US, he said, adding that conservative forces in Pakistan had executed an elected prime minister on the dictation of the US establishment and later also had given the Shamsi Airbase to America to carry out drone strikes.
“Today, we are seeing that CPEC is being put on the backburner on the dictation of the US,” he remarked.
He said Pakistan’s strategic interest was linked with Asia, China and Russia, yet “we are seeing that a soft paddling is being done with the US.”
Mr Rabbani pointed out that Pakistan gave its sovereignty to the US and signed a document of surrender with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Referring to recent staff report of the international lender, he said the Fund was giving a dictation to Pakistan even for its budget document.
Earlier, during the question hour, Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin told the House that Pakistan would start utilising the Saudi oil facility on deferred payment from next month.
Responding to questions, he said Pakistan received $3 billion from Saudi Arabia in December 2021 for one year at 4 per cent interest rate.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2022