Qureshi invites Opp leaders to help frame foreign policy | Pakistan Today

Qureshi invites Opp leaders to help frame foreign policy

–Bilawal underlines human rights violations in Kashmir, says people should have right to choose their country 

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday invited National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and other opposition leaders to help the government for a cohesive foreign policy in these “testing times”.

Qureshi, who took the podium after the PPP chairman’s address to the assembly in a session on mini-budget, said the government was willing to involve the opposition in the process of foreign policy.

He said the nation needs to stand together to send India, the eastern neighbour, a message that Pakistan is united to defend itself.

The FM also spoke on Pakistan’s unilateral decision to release detained Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured after his plane was shot down by the military in Pakistani airspace.

Responding to Bilawal’s criticism who had called the move “premature”, the foreign minister said that the government made the decision because it was in Pakistan’s interest.

“We thought by doing that we would be sending a message of de-escalation and that message went loud and clear, and was appreciated all over the world,” he said while alluding to praise showered on Pakistan by the global leaders for releasing the pilot.

Also, the foreign minister touched upon the boycott of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit, which was opposed by the PPP.

Sticking to his previous stance, Qureshi said: “This was an important decision and we weighed the pros and cons of not doing so. The House was divided in this regard. Many experts, as Zardari aptly put, thought that Pakistan should engage. Another view was also from a major opposition party. Khawaja Asif very articulately said that Pakistan should protest and boycott the session.”

He said PML-N representative Khurram Dastagir also favoured the boycott.

“The resolution was then signed and passed unanimously [by the parliament],” said Qureshi.

“Then, when a joint session had spoken and commanded the foreign minister of Pakistan to boycott the summit, what was I supposed to do?” he asked.

Qureshi said the government was also committed to implementing the National Action Plan in letter and spirit, adding that it was carrying out a crackdown on proscribed organisations to curb militancy.

Regarding economic situation in the country, Qureshi said structural flaws in the economy are a major stumbling block we inherited from the previous government. He urged the opposition to come forward with valid suggestions to improve the economy.


Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during the address criticised the government for its “poor economic policies” in addition to underlining human rights violations in Kashmir

Speaking on Kashmir, Bilawal said people of Kashmir should be given a chance to decide their destiny through a promised plebiscite to avoid incidents like Pulwama [suicide bombing].

He said India is committing atrocities against innocent Kashmiris by using pellet guns and rape as a tool for oppression.

He went on to say that Modi’s tyrannical government has “broken all records of inhumanity”.

“We have watched in horror as the world stood idly by while young Kashmiris were blinded by pellet guns, while they were used as human shields, while rape was deployed as the weapon of suppression, oppression and terror,” he said while highlighting the plight of Kashmiris to chants of “shame” resounding throughout the House.

He said contrary to Indian allegations, Pulwama attack was not carried out by any non-state actor [such as Jaish-e-Mohammed or Jammatud Dawa] from another country, but it was done by a Kashmiri youth [Adil Dar], which showed Kashmiris were fed up of Indian oppression.

He said the international community should take notice of the situation in the occupied Kashmir.

He also paid rich tribute to the armed forces of Pakistan for defending the motherland and foiling Indian aggression against the country besides calling for the implementation of National Action Plan to curb the scourge of terrorism.

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