ISLAMABAD - Main opposition parties in the National Assembly Monday strongly demanded the government take the House into confidence about its anti-militancy and foreign policies to clear the prevailing uncertainty.
The treasury benches also came under sharp criticism over alleged foreign policy shift on Syria, but they defended themselves by terming the reports about arms deal with Saudi Arabia for supplies to Syrian rebels ‘speculative assumptions’.
The House, on first day of the 9th session, saw a very thin presence on both sides of the aisle soon after the government’s brief response that the House would be taken into confidence after deliberating the matter in the federal cabinet meeting today (Tuesday). The main opposition party (PPPP), at the fag end of the proceedings, also staged a token walkout over the alleged interference of federal government in the AJK polls.
Taking the floor, leader of opposition in NA Syed Khursheed Shah said the prime minister should take the House into confidence for bringing clarity to the prevailing uncertain situation in the country. “The PM should come and take the House into confidence about its policy about peace talks or operation,” Shah said, raising the question about the status of current peace negotiations.
“People are waiting for government measures to bring peace to the country,” he said, giving assurance that the opposition and the nation would stand by it as well as the armed forces. He also questioned the gain from the month-long negotiations between government and Taliban nominated negotiators.
Shah further accused the government of changing foreign policy of the country about the sale of arms to Syria. “It is a policy shift which would have serious consequences like we faced after indulging in Afghanistan war in the era 1980,” he said, asking the government to clear the position on this important matter. “Need not to worry, we are sovereign country and have nuclear power,” he added.
Another opposition party lawmaker from PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi, on a point of order, demanded of the government to share its decision about the prevailing situation in the country with reference to North Waziristan. “It looks the government is in a state of confusion...It appears from the situation that the decision of operation has been made,” he said, adding that there was a need to clear the status of government’s committee to negotiate with TTP nominated committee.
He also raised the issue of alleged foreign policy change regarding sale of arms to Syria. “The government should take House into confidence about this important matter,” he added. Adopting a bit strict stance, MQM lawmaker Asif Hasnain went some extra mile in his suggestion by saying that operation was the last option in such situation. Whereas, JI legislator Sher Akbar proposed to call another All Parties Conference (APC) to decide about conducting operation or continuing peace talks.
Giving response to the point raised by opposition, Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid said there was no ‘U-turn’ in the foreign policy. Terming it as speculation, he said that the government will take the House into confidence today.
“After deliberating it in federal cabinet meeting the House will be taken into confidence,” he added. About PTI’s lawmaker’s point, he admitted the delay in submitting the proposals to respective standing committees. He said eleven standing committees had submitted proposals.
Later, the PPP lawmakers staged a walkout from the proceeding of the House terming the alleged rigging in by-elections in LA-22, Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, chief of Awami Muslim League Shaikh Rashid Ahmed announced boycott of the house proceedings till taking of the assembly into confidence about North Waziristan operation.
The House also passed a bills, moved by Minister Zahid Hamid, to further amend the legal parishioners and Bar council Act,1973. A motion was laid before the House about gas theft ordinance 2014. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, during question hour, informed that the Iran-Pakistan pipeline could not be completed until the sanctions against Iran were lifted.