Senate committee to examine policy on Syria


ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee will scrutinise the federal government’s foreign policy on Syria, especially in the backdrop of Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan and subsequent apprehensions gaining ground that Pakistan has changed its policy with regards to the conflict-hit Syria.
The Standing Committee of Senate on Foreign Affairs chaired by Awami National Party’s Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel will hold its meeting today (Monday) and has Syria issue among on other items on the agenda. The senate committee is meeting at a juncture when the country is abound with speculations that Pakistan has changed its policy on Syria on the whims of Saudi Arabia whose Crown Prince Salman Abdulaziz visited Pakistan last month and subsequently reports emerged that Pakistan would sell weapons to Syrian rebels on the request of Saudi Arabia.
Though government strongly denied such reports emerging in national and international media when Advisor on Foreign Affairs presented a policy statement in National Assembly early this month to quash these reports. These reports however received credence again in the last few days when dwindling value of Pakistan rupee suddenly stopped and it recovered phenomenally on the back of 1.5 billion dollar given by what Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said from a friendly Muslim country that later confirmed as Saudi Arabia.
Government side attributed this huge amount of foreign currency a “friendly gesture” from Saudi Arabia on the personnel intervention of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However opposition side led by Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) questioned this amount. Apart from Opposition Leader in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah’s demand to seek explanation from government on this amount and its possible link with Syrian policy, the party also moved an adjournment motion in Upper House of Parliament for explicit response of the government on it.
The senate committee, meeting on Monday will listen from Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz the actual position on the government who has been invited as per the agenda of the meeting. The senate committee is dominated by opposition members especially PPP, ANP, PML-Q and MQM as out of thirteen members, nine are from opposition benches with only four from government and its allies. 
The committee is also scheduled to take up an important legislation “The Ratification of Foreign Agreements by Parliament”, moved by PPPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani. The committee will also discuss the recent visit USA CIA Chief Visit to Pakistan in which he held meetings with the top military leadership of the country.

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