ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to meet on Wednesday (March 9) to receive a briefing about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visits to China and Russia besides reviewing the security situation in the country in the wake of the increase in terrorist attacks.

The seven-point agenda issued by the National Assembly Secretariat for the meeting of the committee headed by Ehsanullah Tiwana of the ruling PTI shows that the committee members will also receive a briefing on the objectives of the upcoming meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad.

Besides, the committee will also take up the Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Oath and Fees) Amendment Bill 2022 which the government had already enforced through promulgation of a presidential ordinance and laid before the NA on Jan 11.

The bill, seeking an amendment to the Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Oath and Fees) Act 1948, aims at facilitating online services by saving time, reducing cost and minimising the difficulties for people.

Rise in terror attacks from Afghan soil also on agenda of March 9 meeting

According to the statement of objects and reasons attached to the bill piloted by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, it also seeks to “empower the federal government to make rules for carrying out the purposes of this act.”

Despite pressure from the world powers, Pakistan is so far maintaining a neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and has asked the two sides to use the diplomatic channels and negotiations to end the conflict to avoid human loss.

Before going to Russia, the prime minister had visited China on the occasion of the Winter Olympics and during his four-day stay there had met Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping.

The prime minister had tweeted that the two countries had agreed to further enhance strategic and economic relations and to fast track the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Speaking at a news conference soon after his return from China, Mr Qureshi had termed the prime minister’s visit “extremely successful and productive, more than their expectations”, saying they had had very comprehensive meetings with the Chinese leadership on a wide range of issues, including Afghanistan and future prospects of CPEC. He had said China had acknowledged Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan’s humanitarian assistance.

Another important item on the committee’s agenda is the “rapid increase in the terrorist attacks in Pakistan from Afghanistan and precautionary measures adopted by Pakistan to avoid such attacks in future.”

The committee members will discuss discriminatory attitude of the Indian government towards minorities, especially Muslim women, and not allowing them to enter educational institutions with wimple and headscarf.

Prominent members of the committee are Zain Hussain Qureshi, Munazza Hassan, Maleeka Bokhari, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Ali Nawaz Shah, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Maiza Hameed, Nauman Islam Shaikh and Hina Rabbani Khar.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2022

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