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Opposition Senators questioned Imran Khan letter to Modi

25 September, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Senators belonging to the opposition benches on Monday questioned the dialogue offer made by Prime Minister Imran Khan to India at a time when Indian forces had intensified brutalities in held Kashmir.

Raising the issue in the House, Senate’s former chairman Mian Raza Rabbani of Pakistan Peoples Party said that Indian forces continued to perpetrate atrocities on Kashmiris who were struggling to achieve their cherished goal, adding that given the situation in held Kashmir the PM’s offer for talks to India was incomprehensible.

He said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s letter to Mr Khan was ceremonial in nature, but an offer of dialogue was made in the letter written in response to it. He also objected to the language used in the letter that “we are ready to discuss terrorism”. He said it was known to all what India’s position was on the issue of terrorism.

He also referred to Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood’s remarks that “let the CPEC projects be put on hold for one year” and said a clarification just said he had been quoted out of context, leaving people to wonder what he had actually said.

Mr Rabbani also expressed his concerns over reports that Saudi Arabia had been offered to build a city of oil in Gwadar. “Is it the singular superpower you are trying to please? Do you want to realign the foreign policy?” he questioned and said it could not be done by off-the-cuff actions and statements. He stressed that parliament was the forum to take such decisions.

Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haidri of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl questioned as to how a single individual could offer dialogue to India. He criticised PM Khan for writing a letter to his Indian counterpart without taking parliament into confidence. He advised Mr Khan to tread carefully, saying that the PM was taking decisions in haste which lacked vision.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry explained that Mr Khan’s letter to the Indian prime minister was a response to a communication he received from him. He said Pakistan wanted to find a solution to all bilateral disputes with India, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The two countries have been fighting for seventy years and we can continue to fight for another seventy years if India wants,” he remarked and warned that a nuclear war — if it broke out — would mean devastation of the subcontinent.

Mr Chaudhry said PM Khan’s vision was to alleviate sufferings of the millions of people living below the poverty line in the region. He said Pakistan would be in the middle of two big international markets if its relations with India were normalised.

Faisal Javed of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf regretted that efforts were being made for point-scoring on the issues which required a complete unity in the ranks of the political class. “We need to project Pakistan’s narrative,” he stressed.

Earlier taking part in the debate on the recently announced mini budget, Senator retired Gen Abdul Qayyum called for immediate efforts for the debt rescheduling as was done in 2002 with 15 countries, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Paris Club which offered $12 billion with zero interest payments for initial 15 years. He also asked the government to unfold a long-term economic policy and macro-economic strategy to implement the evolved policy, besides immediately privatising state owned enterprises constantly adding to financial burden or evolving a system of their effective governance.

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