Parliament to finalise way forward over Trump threat

ISLAMABAD: A joint session of parliament will finalise the way forward in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s threat to Pakistan.

This was indicated by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his brief remarks made in the Senate on Thursday soon after Foreign Affairs Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s speech, who was supposed to wind up discussion on matters related to Mr Trump’s tirade, chose to instead read out a press release of the National Security Council (NSC) meeting.

Mr Abbasi described it as a critical issue and said the federal cabinet deliberated on it for three hours on Tuesday and the NSC discussed the matter for some four hours.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani had earlier informed the prime minister that a Senate panel had been formed to frame recommendations spelling out the way forward after the US president’s aggressive remarks. He said the panel was on the verge of completing a draft.

Abbasi regrets PTV did not broadcast live debate on the issue

He proposed that the recommendations be taken to the joint sitting of parliament for adoption or any amendments — an idea apparently accepted by the prime minister. He indicated that after adoption of the draft by the Senate, it would be taken to the joint session of parliament.

Mr Abbasi regretted that the PTV could not telecast live the discussion on an important issue like this. He said the PTV was under instructions to cover proceedings of both houses of parliament.

Following his brief remarks, the prime minister during an in-camera session wound up discussion on an adjournment motion regarding the implications of the decision of an arbitration tribunal of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), on the arbitration claims filed by Tethyan Copper Company against Pakistan in relation to the denial of a mining lease for the Reko Diq project.

Earlier, taking part in the discussion, senators reminded the United States that Pakistan as a frontline state in the war on terror had suffered the most. They said the US that mocked Pakistan for receiving dollars in aid should keep in mind that it had not given a fraction of the losses incurred by Pakistan in the war amounting to around $150 billion.

They pointed out that the educational institutions and health facilities and other infrastructure of Pakistan badly suffered due to blasts that took place in the country following the then military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf’s complete surrender before the US. Besides this, they said, thousands of civilians and armed forces personnel had laid down their lives.

The members also hailed the reaction of the international community following the irresponsible remarks of Mr Trump.

They also blasted Mr Trump for not mentioning human rights violations in India-held Kashmir and encouraging India’s role in Afghanistan.

Former interior minister Rehman Malik said that the threat emanating from Washington should be taken seriously.

Earlier during the question hour, the interior ministry’s written replies surprised many by disclosing that it was unaware that moves in the United Nations to impose sanctions on the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) leader Maulana Masood Azhar had repeatedly been blocked by China.

Senator Farhatullah Babar asked whether such a move in the UN had been thwarted repeatedly and whether the interior ministry had any role in it.

In his written reply, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal stated that his ministry was regularly briefed by intelligence agencies on activities of banned organisations, but it was not aware of blocking of UN moves against the JeM leader.

“It is requested that the Honourable Senator should be specific in his question in order that the same be replied in clear and categorical terms,’’ said the written reply of Mr Iqbal.

Reports of China repeatedly blocking such moves in the UN have been widely reported in the media.

Mr Babar expressed surprise that despite receiving regular briefings from intelligence agencies on banned organisations, the minister was unaware of the move to protect the JeM chief at the UN platform.