ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s session began on Wednesday with heated speeches by both opposition and government members over the Kashmir issue.
The sitting began with opposition members’ criticism of the government’s “failure” to highlight the Kashmir crisis, with both PPP and PML-N advising the government to declare a “diplomatic emergency”.
In response, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the opposition not to “minimise” Pakistan’s efforts to highlight the Kashmir issue around the world.
“When Pakistan’s efforts are minimised, you are being minimised and Pakistan’s stance is being weakened. Please, do not minimise what Pakistan has done. Yes, contribute and add to what we have done and if you have positive suggestions, God willing, we will incorporate them into our thinking.
“On this issue and on issues of national interest, we are open to input […] the input and the voice of this House do not weaken our hands but strengthen them,” the foreign minister said.
He assured the House that the New Delhi’s move of abrogating occupied Kashmir’s special status was being condemned by Indian politicians as well.
PPP leader and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf regretted that the government had failed to even force India to lift the curfew in occupied Kashmir.
Munir Orakzai from Fata challenged Qureshi’s claim that the PTI government had taken a lead among all the previous governments on highlighting and internationalising Kashmir. He said India had never dared to take such a drastic step of annexing Kashmir in the past.
He pointed out that Qureshi was the foreign minister in the previous governments too, as had been most of those in the current cabinet.
“The few new ministers that are here only abuse the opponents,” he said.
He called the government’s attention to the erstwhile Fata region. “Fata people are in trouble. Their old system has been abolished but no new system has been introduced. They have not been given the amount which was promised for the development of Fata.”
PPP’s Hina Rabbani Khar said the government should “at least try to convene a meeting of the OIC foreign ministers”.
Meanwhile, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal criticised Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) tepid response to the Kashmir crisis and said that if the body does not agree to call a session on the issue, Pakistan should “immediately announce its exit”.
“We don’t need a dead forum that cannot even call a session on [occupied] Kashmir,” he declared. He appealed to the foreign minister to visit at least 10 to 15 countries over the next 15 days and inform foreign governments about the situation in occupied Kashmir “so that the world can know that this is a panic situation”.
“Thirdly, envoys should be sent [to important capitals] immediately, send parliamentary delegations if you must, but rouse the world. If you don’t shake the world awake and tell them that this is a calamity, who will raise this issue?”
The session will continue till December 20, it was decided during a meeting of the House Business Advisory Committee chaired by Speaker Asad Qaiser earlier today.
The meeting was attended by members of government and opposition. During this session, the Lower House will debate on matters of public interest and importance along with legislation, it was agreed during the meeting.
Non-isssuance of production orders
Earlier in the day, the opposition visited the speaker’s office to protest over the non-issuance of production orders for PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah ahead of the National Assembly’s session.
Yesterday, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb had told Dawn that the party will stay away from the session if the National Assembly speaker does not issue the production orders for the three arrested party MNAs — former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and MNA Sanaullah. The production orders for Abbasi and Rafique have been issued.
Aurangzeb said that PML-N would take other opposition parties, including PPP, into confidence on its strategy in the meeting of the joint opposition before the start of the assembly session.
Senior PPP leader Naveed Qamar also predicted a “stormy assembly session”, but said the party would make its strategy about the protest on the issue of production orders in a meeting.
PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Syed Khursheed Shah are the two PPP lawmakers currently under detention and both are at present under treatment in hospitals.