Senators overwhelmingly condemn US policy on South Asia

Senators on Tuesday expressed serious reservations against the United States’ policy on South Asia as well as related recent developments, including increased drone attacks and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Islamabad.

During a Senate session, lawmakers unequivocally criticised the US’s new bent, terming it a threat to regional security and peace.

Senator Taj Haider said US President Donald Trump “wants to divide people while erecting walls.” He claimed that the US economy was rooted in conflict, but Islamabad would not become part of any proxy war in the region.

Senator Farhatullah Babar turned his guns on the government, criticising Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for “not being able to control the reins of Pakistan’s foreign policy”. He also asked why drone strikes had resumed in the tenure of the incumbent government.

He also lambasted Asif for a recent statement in which he had said that Pakistan would take action against those identified by the US. He said that it seemed to be the same narrative floated by military dictator and former president Pervaiz Musharraf.

He also found fault with other statements made by the foreign minister. Recalling that Asif had told US officials that their generals had failed so they should find a political solution to Afghanistan, Babar urged the minister to “adopt the same approach.”

Senator Sehar Kamran said that the US had its own priorities and that Islamabad should not look to Washington for support. “We welcome the US if it wants to eliminate terrorism without the support of Pakistan,” she said.

“The US should look upon its failures,” she added.

The senator further said that it seemed that the US was supporting India to use New Delhi against Beijing, as it had developed concerns over the rapid progress of China. Kamran was of the view that Islamabad should not pay heed to threats made by the US, and should instead fortify the country and devise a strong foreign policy.

Senator Azam Sawati said Islamabad should not become part of any proxy war, as the US seemed intent on harming peace in the region. “The US wants access to our nuclear assets,” he added.

Senator Tahir Mashhadi vowed that Islamabad would reject US pressure. He was also of the view that establishing peace in Afghanistan without the support of Pakistan was impossible.

Senator Mian Attique said that the US has always left its friends in a shambles, and that “India will soon realise this reality.”

Senator Saleem Zia said US Secretary of State Tillerson had no right to express any concerns in connection with the Government of Pakistan. He was of the view that peace could be established in Afghanistan only if US forces withdrew from the country.

Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani has directed the foreign minister to brief the Senate on Wednesday on lawmakers’ concerns so as to conclude the discussion. Special Correspondent