Minister blasts pro-US foreign policy

Published August 22, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Aug 21: Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi on Tuesday stunned both the treasury and opposition senators when he roundly criticised the foreign policy, describing it as one of appeasement at the cost of national interests, sovereignty and honour.

He also condemned recently-passed US legislation and the derogatory statements about Pakistan made by some American presidential candidates.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Prof Khurshid Ahmed immediately stood up to endorse most of the views expressed by the minister, and welcomed the “change of heart,” describing it as part of the change that had taken place in the wake of the July 20 landmark Supreme Court judgment.

Interestingly, taking cognizance of the strongly-worded speech of the minister, the Foreign Office reacted officially, saying that only the foreign minister’s statement would be true representation of Pakistan’s foreign policy and Pakistan’s relations with various countries.

However, not a single PPP or the PML-N lawmaker took part in the debate during which statements of US presidential candidates and a recently-approved Pakistan-specific law were severely criticised.

Commenting on the statements made in the Senate on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the foreign mQinister would wind up the debate on the subject on Aug 22.

Dr Niazi said in his speech that the key role Pakistan played in bringing about the downfall of the former Soviet Union was a blunder. It resulted in the emergence of a unipolar world and gave the US a licence to attack any country it wished, he said.

He said that American presidential candidates’ statements threatening Pakistan’s internal security were a reflection of the jaundiced thinking of US leaders who had forgotten lessons of history and the glorious past of Muslims.

Lashing out at the recent US law attaching strings to financial assistance to Pakistan, Dr Niazi described it as insulting and demanded that “we must return and refuse to accept such assistance”.

He said the country should learn to stand on its own feet by rejecting all foreign assistance as a proud Muslim nation.

Recounting events of the 1971 war with India and the country’s dismemberment, he said Islamabad kept waiting for the arrival of the Sixth US fleet in the Bay of Bengal as had been promised by the then US government. But the fleet never turned up, he said, adding that no good should be expected of the US in future as well.

He said while the US officials never stopped the mantra of “do more”, ignoring the fact that Islamabad had rendered tremendous sacrifices in the war on terror, the US signed a civil nuclear agreement with India, instead of Pakistan. He said while India was encouraged when it had carried out nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998, heavy sanctions were slapped on Pakistan when it conducted nuclear tests and aspersions were still being cast on nuclear assets of the country.

The minister said that events which followed the 9/11 incident proved that it was the brainchild of Jews. He said that according to holy Quran, Jews and Christians could never be friends of Muslims.

Prof Khurshid Ahmed of the MMA said that the American presidential candidates’ statements had exposed Gen Musharraf’s US-centric policies, because after staking everything, national interest, pride and sovereignty Pakistan was still accused of doing little in the so-called war on terror.

He said while the Iranian leadership had staunchly resisted the US pressure with full backing of its people, Pakistan’s military government had abjectly surrendered to the US dictates because of lack of genuine support from the people.

He accused Gen Musharraf of compromising everything on a single telephone call of the American President.

Treasury bench members Nisar Memon and Anwar Bhinder supported President Musharraf’s foreign policy, saying it was based on “ground realities”.

Dr Kausar Firdaus called for review and revision of the foreign policy, and said the government should consider withdrawing Pakistan from the so-called war on terror that had cost the country dearly in terms of losses of life and national dignity.

Senator Shahid Bugti said that an individual had put the country’s solidarity at risk only to prolong his rule.

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