Pakistan not facing isolation in wake of BRICS declaration: Asif

| Says country’s diplomatic position improved after Trump's speech

ISLAMABAD -  Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Tuesday that Pakistan was not facing diplomatic isolation in the wake of 9th BRICS summit declaration in September.

Asif stated this while winding up the discussion on the admitted adjournment motion moved by Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh on September 22 regarding significance of the BRICS declaration with particular reference to China’s view point about Pakistan.  

Foreign Minister said that China's stance regarding Pakistan has not changed and that the situation on the foreign policy front was not as alarming as it was being portrayed.

He said that Pakistan’s allies, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were standing by it just as before. "In fact, Pakistan's diplomatic position has improved after Trump's speech," he claimed. "There has been no change in China's policy. It is standing by Pakistan with increased alacrity," Asif maintained.

The foreign minister claimed that the Heart of Asia conference declaration, which Pakistan signed in August, had a much stronger stance against terrorist organisations than the BRICS declaration.

The terrorist organisations named in the BRICS declaration had already been named in the Heart of Asia conference, he said, adding the declaration was misquoted following US President Donald Trump's policy statement on South Asia.

He clarified that Pakistan's policy regarding banned organisation was in accordance with the policy of United Nations. A ban was imposed on proscribed organisations to bar them from collecting hides on Eidul Azha, it was also done in abidance with the UN policy, the minister said.

“It was being assumed that Pakistan would become internationally isolated following the US president’s speech,” he said while speaking in Senate.

“On the contrary, diplomatic support for Pakistan grew after that speech,” he added. “On the diplomatic front, our position is far better than what it was earlier. We’re neither diplomatically isolated, nor weak,” he added.

Last month, the US president censured Pakistan in his policy speech for sheltering the Afghan Taliban and other terrorist groups, Pakistan strongly rejected the allegation.

There was a lighter moment during the Senate session when Asif mentioned the name of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani sarcastically noted that “he [Tillerson] is in paradise”, referring to the recently released Paradise Papers which disclosed that the US official had an offshore firm.

The foreign minister responded that many other close aides of Trump too were in “paradise”. “Who doesn’t want to go to paradise?” he joked. “Many Pakistanis are also there.”

The House also continued discussion on the state institutions and their role in the scheme of trichotomy of power. Those Senators who took part in the discussion today included Nasreen Jalil, Nehal Hashami, Karim Khawaja, Professor Sajid Mir, Giyan Chand and Maulana Attaur Rehman.

They all were of the view that political parties should evolve one point consensus that they would not weaken the parliament.    

The House also disposed of an adjournment motion seeking to formulate national water policy.

The motion which is already under the consideration of the Committee of the Whole was moved by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman.

Earlier during the Question Hour, the Senate was informed that the government has taken various steps to eliminate power load-shedding in the country by 2018. 

Minister for Power Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari informed the House during question hour that due to sincere and hectic efforts of the government, the generating capacity of electricity is continuously increasing and duration of load-shedding is gradually decreasing in the country.

Responding to a question, the Minister said that the government is taking several steps to provide gas to remaining areas of Sindh province.  At present twenty-seven out of twenty-nine districts headquarters and 102 out of 121 Taluka headquarters of Sindh are on gas.

Replying to a question, Minister for Power said that Pakistan has committed to the execution of the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project. He said the delay in the execution of the project is due to sanctions on Iran.


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