Response to FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi speech in senate

As a member of the opposition following is my response to the speech of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi speech in the Senate on January 6th, 2020.

Honorable Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke to the August house of Senate about the deteriorating situation in the region. It is appreciated that the minister informed the house about the statements of various stakeholders as well as his conversation with various foreign ministers. The minister highlighted the risks that are apparent because of this escalation especially the dangers faced by Pakistan and its neighborhood. We were informed that Pakistani soil will not be allowed to be used against any other country.

But the speech lacked the substance that could shed any light on the foreign policy position of Pakistan. Here are my questions to the foreign minister:

1. Why the US Secretary of State did not contact his counterpart and instead called the Chief of Army Staff? This suggests that America is seeking security support from Pakistan in case there are further retaliatory actions down the road. In the entire speech, the FM did not even refer to the conversation between Pak Army Chief and US Secretary of State. Why this omission? Did the Army Chief brief the FM and PM about his conversation with US Secretary of State and what was the substance of that conversation? The transcript of the conversation should be provided to members of the Senate and Parliament as well as released to the public.

2. If Pakistan states that its soil will not be allowed to be used against a third country does this mean that request has been made to provide such support to the US and NATO as was done in the case of Afghanistan? When the FM spoke to Iranian FM was any question raised and promises given that Pakistan will not provide support to a third country in case Iran responds to the drone strikes.

3. What is Pakistan’s position on US drone strikes against a foreign high official in a third country? Do we condemn such action or support it? In the past when Pakistan was the victim of drone strikes our position was that it is a violation of our sovereignty and the PM even led a long march to Waziristan against it.

4. What is the Pakistan line of action to defuse tension in the region or to prevent being embroiled in it especially since the honorable FM mentioned that such a situation is a high risk for our interests? Why have we not request a special meeting of SCO and OIC to develop a diplomatic platform to defuse tensions between US-Iran especially since one of the charters of SCO is to ensure regional security. Both China and Russia have expressed concern about the unilateral action by the Americans. They appear to be willing to develop an institutional approach to give diplomacy a chance.

5, What efforts are being made to make Kashmir part of the regional agenda despite distractions caused by Afghan and Iran situation? So far the government has failed to gain any international support for its Kashmir position.

6.American, European, and Japanese naval forces have gathered near our waters. What actions are we taking to protect our national interests at sea?

The honorable minister did not address any of the substantive issues and provided a presentation that could have been done by any of the regional directors of the foreign ministry. The speech of the FM has made me worried that we are not prepared to deal with the complexity of the situation and have a superficial appreciation of the evolving environment. Rhetorical speeches without follow up actions are meaningless as we witnessed after PM speech at the UN.

I suggest that Senate and Parliament Foreign relations committees should hold a joint meeting to get a briefing from Chief of Army Staff and the FM about the foreign policy strategy of the country to deal with this highly explosive situation.

thanks & regards

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi
Movement for Second Republic

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