Senator calls for new civil-military engagement terms

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party Senator Farhatullah Babar yesterday said that before framing the terms of engagement with the United States, the political leadership of the country should frame new terms of engagement with the military leadership to pave way for the formulation and implementation of foreign and security policies.

During discussion on regional situation and new terms of engagement with the foreign countries in the Senate Committee of the Whole, he said: “Without taking onboard all the state institutions mainly the military any move to formulate the new terms of engagement with foreign countries will not yield desired results.”

Foreign policy formulation in critical areas, like relations with countries in the region, Kashmir and nuclear issues had been taken over by the security establishment. The contradiction within state institutions has resulted in a botched up foreign policy as was evident from the fiasco of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and tweets that only generated tensions with Iran, he said. “For how long we will continue to deceive ourselves by pretending that there are no issues of serious disconnect in policy formulation,” he questioned.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that a joint parliamentary committee should be established to balance civil-military relations so that all the stakeholders could be brought on same page for the formulation and persuasion of foreign policy goals. He said that ISPR along with the think tanks and other stakeholders should be called in the committee as they are making statements on key foreign policy issues.

He said that the balance of power within the region was shifting towards India while within the country it had already shifted dangerously towards the military. This is a deadly combination that calls for urgent corrective policy measures in consultation with all stake holders, he said stressing the need for a parliamentary committee to address the issue.

Chairman Senate MianRaza Rabbani while chairing the committee said that the situation arising after the negative remarks of congress legislators regarding Pakistan’s role in war on terror, has compelled us to determine new terms of engagement between Pak-US to promote our national interests.

He said that unnecessary criticism has become a frequent trend amongst the US legislators and policy makers without realising Pakistan’s efforts for global war on terror. Such irresponsible remarks by US congressmen will only create instability in the region.

Former ambassador to US Senator Sherry Rehman said that historic cognitive disconnect exists between US and Pakistan. The US has been long seeing us through the lens of Afghanistan and its time that US recognises us as an independent political entity and regional reality. However, Pakistan should not indulge in blame game and try to put its house in order first. Formulating foreign policy is Parliament’s job therefore it shouldn’t be drafted by establishment or any other quarters.

Senator Sehar Kamran criticised government for its inability to nominate a formal foreign minister. She said that we cannot move in right direction without identifying our weaknesses and challenges. Pakistan has failed to invest in “Perception Management’ therefore stands isolated internationally.

Senator Mushahid Hussain said that although for the first time we are hearing critical voices against “Modi” government at international level yet Pakistan has to boost its efforts to project Kashmir cause at international level. Similarly, Pakistan should make serious efforts to improve its relations with Afghanistan and Iran.

Senator Taj Hider while expressing his views on the subject said that the US foreign policy is controlled by military industrial complex that benefits from the instability in third world countries. Therefore, peace in this region is not in their interest.

The members agreed to invite all the stakeholders in the upcoming meetings so that comprehensive guidelines could be provided for future engagements with neighbouring countries and world powers especially US.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt