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Event Title: Senator Sherry Rehman Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs presiding over a meeting of the Committee at Parliament House Islamabad on March 16, 2022.

Event Date: 2022-03-16

Sherry Questions the Indian Missile story while chairing FAC Islamabad, 16th March 2022:- Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Sherry Rehman raised urgent issues including recent events that may impact Pakistan’s sovereign concerns.  She said that the “Indian missile crash in Pakistan is an extremely dangerous indicator of multiple crises that could have been precipitated to set off unimaginable consequences. An escalation of hostilities between two powerful, nuclearized countries must be avoided at all costs, especially in the absence of a framework for scaling down. There is no current example in the world of such a risk-laden environment where two nuclear powers who have had four wars between them are also direct neighbors. It is because of our turbulent history that the severity of this so - called ‘mistake’ cannot go unnoticed by Pakistan and the international community. It is of paramount importance to note that this ‘technical glitch’ did not occur in disputed territory rather 500 km from Islamabad in Mian Channu. ”

“There are a series of  procedures in place for testing, even if we are to accept this weak explanation that it was a missile that went off its charted course, why did it not self-destruct? The BrahMos mini supersonic is a  missile which could have been “accidentally” armed with a warhead; and much like all such category of missiles they are programmed to self-destruct when they go off trajectory .”

“The incident calls into question why India, a country that is ranked 3rd highest in Military spending ($72.9 billion per year) just after the US and China, could let a mishap of such enormous magnitude “slip” through during a ‘routine check’.  To many of us it seems  that this was a  message from India to Pakistan’; when taken into account past behavior the international community’s silence is disappointing. It causes us to question would this be similarly received by the world had it been Pakistan launching its missiles at India, especially accidentally. "

“When we take this incident into context with Indian submarines showing up in Pakistani waters, and reports of anonymous officials who state India is unlikely to compromise on a joint-probe of the incident; we need to take a firm stance and in addition to the Foreign Office’s  efforts this issue needs to be raised further on various international forums.”

“India’s current posture is becoming a threat to the peace in the region and shrinks the space for rational dialogue for stabilisation. Had this incident been an accident and not a planned test, why did the Indian Defense Ministry wait a whole day after DG ISPR’s press-briefing to issue their vaguely worded regrets at the issue? Why were alarm bells not rung the second it allegedly went ‘off course’? The other obvious alternative seems to be a worrying fragility of the personnel reliability regime in place in the Indian nuclear strategic environment. Questions about the security protocols associated with such missile storage and testing procedures could well lead to extreme risk scenarios related to the possible theft and smuggling of uranium?”

She concluded the matter expressing the need for a detailed in-camera briefing on the matter, stating the intent to call officials of Air Defense Command and Strategic Plans Division in the next meeting.

She also spoke at great length as to the Russia/Ukraine War and its impact on Pakistan, questioning “efforts taken by Pakistan to ensure the safe and secure return of its citizens with particular focus on  students and on the impacts of Pakistan’s exposure .”

The Secretary Foreign Affairs provided a comprehensive account of the visit stating it had been planned well in advance. And had resulted in positive discussion on multiple levels with Moscow.

Senator Rehman remarked, “When discussing matters of foreign policy it is imperative to keep  personal anger at bay and remember it is our exposed economy that has placed us in this perilous position. Pakistan must keep working to operationalise GSP+ and for that we need to manage the environment .

She called for the attention of the committee to the, “deplorable and tragic state of affairs in Afghanistan, where girls are not just being sold for money by parents , rather they are repeatedly being sold to feed starving families . Just because the world has removed Afghanistan from Page 3 does not mean we ignore the humanitarian crisis next door..”

The matter raised by Senator Asif Karmani in the Senate regarding “Pakistani Students studying in China who cannot return to China due to Covid-19 restrictions by Chinese authorities” was deferred due to the non-presence of the sponsor.

Members agreed that Pakistan needs to take a proactive position on public diplomacy with reference to Kashmir and the growing strategic belligerence of Modi's India.

The Senators including  Palwasha Muhammad Zai Khan, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo, Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, Dr Zarqa Soharwardy, Saadia Abbasi, and Senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by the Secretary Minister of Foreign Affairs Sohail Mehmood attended the meeting.