Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in a briefing on Pakistan-India Relations after the Pulwama incident and the efforts of the Foreign Office to mobilize the international community in support of Pakistan during Pulwama incident was told by the Foreign Minister that Pakistan Government has a policy of de-escalation while at the same time staying vigilant to any possible aggression from the Indian side. The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed here at the Parliament House on Thursday and was attended among others by Senators Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Dr. Asif Kirmani, Nuzhat Sadiq, Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Abdul Rehman Malik, Sherry Rehman, Sitara Ayaz, Dr. Shahzad Waseem, Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Mushahidullah Khan, Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi and officials from the Foreign Office.
The committee was told in a chronological order how the incident and India’s immediate allegation on Pakistan was dealt with by the Foreign Office including briefings by the Foreign Office for Ambassadors from international community, communication with the United Nations Secretary General, the public hearing of European Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, meetings and telephone conversations with Chinese Foreign Minister, British Foreign Secretary, Russian Foreign Minister, United States National Security Advisor, British Prime Minister and Saudi Crown Prince among others, the urgent meeting of OIC Kashmir Contact Group, historic resolution passed b OIC General Body terming Indian atrocities in IOK ‘state terrorism’ for the first time. The Foreign Minister said that in wake of the Indian aggression and trespassing along LoC, Pakistan’s response was aimed at stopping aggression but at the same time showing our capabilities. He observed that the world has now seen the reality of Indian claims of killing 300 terrorists and shooting down our F-16.
On questions asked by Senators regarding release of Abhinandan and the clams of a second pilot, the Foreign Minister told the committee that there should be no misconception about who decided the release of the Indian pilot as it was the Prime Minister’s decision himself. He told that the initial reports of a second pilot were not true because those reports were from field and there was different information coming at that time which caused the confusion and only one pilot was captured. He said that after releasing the pilot and the gesture being received warmly in the international community, Pakistan also sent the Pakistani High Commissioner back to his work which was followed by the Indian High Commissioner resuming his duties.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that India warned Pakistan of international isolation but since the incident Pakistan is maintaining regular relationship with different countries and foreign ministers of Luxemburg, Germany, Bahrain and EU Representatives have recently visited the country. He also said that the incident and the increased human rights violations have backfired at India and the scenario in IOK is now changing with more and more opposition to Indian atrocities. He said that Pakistan does not have any favourites in Indian political atmosphere and government has to deal with whosoever comes in power in India.
The Committee passed a Resolution unanimously, moved by Senator Abdul Rehman Malik, regarding the proposed amendments in Indian Constitution aimed at changing the demographics of the Indian Occupied Kashmir. The Resolution condemned the inclusion of changes in Indian Constitution to change the special status of IOK in the election manifesto of BJP and proposed deletion of Articles 370 and 35A.
The Committee also discussed matters of providing relief to Pakistani people in jails in UAE and other countries and the matters of role of Pakistani embassies at International Conferences. The Committee referred the matters of disrespectful behaviour with members of Parliament to the privileges Committee and at the same time asked the Foreign Office to draft Standard Operating Procedures for dealing with international visits. The Foreign Minister said that Parliamentarians ought to be respected and the attitude of embassies should be democratic but the limitations of the embassies in terms of finances and human resource also need to be understood. The Committee recommended setting up a Public Diplomacy Office and providing it a transparently administered fund to improve the diplomacy role of Pakistani missions abroad in promoting Pakistan’s image. The recommendation was welcomed by the minister who recommended sending the same to the Finance Division as well.