The meeting of the Senate Forum for Policy Research (SFPR) convened on Thursday, the 20th December, 2018, at the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) for a detailed discussion on the Foreign Policy of Pakistan.
The meeting was Chaired by former Senator Col Tahir Hussain Mashadi, and attended by former Senators Aitzaz Ahsan, Afrasiab Khattak, Mir Muhammad Naseer Mengal, Sehar Kamran, Ilyas Bilour, Nisar Muhammad Khan and Executive Director, Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS), Mr. Zafarullah Khan.
The Forum deliberated over Pakistan’s relations with its neighbouring as well as Middle East countries. The Chairman of Forum, Senator Col Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that Pakistan lacks a foreign Policy which is a major issue and core to numerous problems that Pakistan faces at present. He criticized the trend of ‘Twitter Diplomacy’ gaining strength world over.
Senator Aitzaz Ahsan was of the view that Pakistan has taken a major stride in opening the Kartarpur Corridor. He said that it would be a major game changer as the Sikh community comprising one third of the total population in India and Katarpur is their Medina. He warned that the positivity created by this move will tried to be sabotaged by the Modi Administration and anti-State elements in Pakistan.
Senator Ilyas Bilour said that Pakistan has paid a heavy price for the mistakes made in Afghanistan as per decisions taken by two Army Chiefs. He stressed the need for Pakistan’s Foreign Policy to be debated in Parliament and said that unless the National Security element is omitted Pakistan cannot move ahead.
Senator Afrasiab Khattak was of the view that Pakistan needs to step back from its policy of strategic depth and unless it does so, it will not be able to move forward. He stressed the need to revisit its Middle East policy and said that Pakistani soil must not be used against another Islamic State.
Senator Sehar Kamran said that Pakistan’s foreign policy lacks transparency and truth. She said that unless relationships with other countries are institutionalized Pakistan will continue to suffer. She stressed the need for Pakistan to build a soft image.
Senator Mir Muhammad Naseer Mengal stressed the need for ownership of Pakistan and said that without a sturdy foreign policy which will make Pakistan a regional power is impossible.
Senator Nisar Muhammad Khan was of the view that in order to move forward it is imperative that Pakistan’s focus should be on socio-economic affairs rather than National Security. He said that formulating policy is the work of Parliament.
Executive Director PIPS stressed the need for Think Tank reports to be studied in order to formulate a foreign policy that will benefit Pakistan and its neighbours.