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NA urges Arab states to resolve differences through dialogue

By Syed Irfan Raza 2017-06-09
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution urging Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia as well as Qatar to show restraint and resolve their dif ferences through dialogue.

The resolution also called on Pakistan to forge unity in the Ummah.

Leaders of opposition parties urged the government to revisit its foreign policy, especiallywith regard to neighbouring countries.

They were of the view that the country`s foreign policy should be made in parliament and that a foreign minister should be appointed to deal with sensitive matters within the Foreign Office and with neighbouringstates.

Later, the National Assembly and the Senate unanimously passed a separate resolution condemning the recent terrorist attack on the Iranian parliament by the militant Islamic State (IS)group which claimed a dozen lives. The two houses urged the government to take effective measures to block the possible penetration of IS into Pakistan.

Gulf resolution The resolution, prepared by the opposition in consultation with government,wassignedbyleaders of opposition parties Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Shireen Mazari and Naveed Qamar.

It reads: `The National Assembly of Pakistan expresses deep concern over recent developments in relations involving brotherly Muslim states in the Gulf region, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This house calls upon all countries to show restraint and resolve all differences through dialogue.

Speaking before the passage of the resolution, Mr Sherpao said Pakistan should act as a bridge to forge unity among Arab states and Qatar. He said the allegation of state-sponsored terrorism levelled against Qatar was similar to the one levelled by India against Pakistan. `God forbid, tomorrow Pakistan could face a similar situation that Qatar faces today,` he said.

He urged Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to call an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) of parliament to inform the nation about Pakistan`s policy on Gulf tension. `We should know Pakistan`s stance and the outcome of the Riyadh Summit,` he said. The speaker then announced that the next meeting of the NSC would be held on June 15.

Dr Mazari requested that a briefing be given by security departments to all parliamentarians, not just the NSC. She said the opposition`s concern regarding the Saudi-led military alliance was that the American president and Israel wanted to isolate Iran. Sanctions were imposed on Qatar because it enjoyed cordial relationswith Iran, she added. `One can smell the agenda of the US and Israel in the conflict between Arab countries in the Gulf.

Mr Qamar said he did not trust the country`s Foreign Office to handle the situation in the Gulf region. He said the statement from Iran on the recent attack on its parliament claimed it was the fallout of the Riyadh Summit. `The allegation comes indirectly to Pakistan because Pakistan was part of the summit,`he added.

Sahibzada Tariq Ullah of the Jamaat-i-Islami said: `Our concerns have been proven true as the Saudi-led alliance of Muslim states is being used against a specific state.

Sheikh Salahuddin of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement suggested that the prime minister attend the meeting of the NSC called by the NA speaker on June 15.

Sheikh Rashid of the Awami Muslim League said a Qatari aircraft had landed at Islamabad airport the night before, and requested the government to inform the nation about who had arrived from Qatar. He also expressed reservations on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and said he would strongly oppose the project if it was used for defence purposes by China.

Mir Amir Ali Khan Magsi of the Pakistan Peoples Party feared that the $1.2 billion monthly remittance f rom Qatar could be affected because of the recently imposed sanctions. He said other bilateral projects between Pakistan and Qatar that related to oil and gas could also be hampered. `The government has to keep in view the fallout from sanctions on Qatar and take care of Pakistanis living there,` he said.Resolution on Iran attack The house also passed a resolution on the recent terrorist attack in Iran and condemned it with a cautionary note that Pakistan should also take preventive measures to stop the influx of IS into Pakistan.

The resolution reads: `This house expresses solidarity with the people and the Parliament of our brotherly neighbour Iran, and reiterates its resolve to jointly combat the menace of terrorism with our neighbours in the region.

Lawmakers also demanded that the security of Pakistan`s Parliament House be handed over to paramilitary Rangers.