Government denies change in policy on Syria

Government denies change in policy on Syria

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of parliament was informed on Monday that there is no truth in the reports that Pakistan has changed its foreign policy under Saudi Arabia’s influence and is giving arms and ammunitions to Syrian rebels who are fighting against forces loyal to Bashar al-Asad.
Responding the point of order raised by Senator Raza Rabbani of PPP about the alleged ongoing parleys between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, leader of the house in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq rubbished the claims, saying there is no change in the foreign policy. He termed as propaganda the reports from some quarters against Pakistan, saying interference in the external matters of a country and that too militarily is rubbish which will have serious repercussions for the internal affairs of Pakistan.
“I assure you that there is no big or small change in the foreign policy and that too under the influence of a foreign country, as any such step will be like inviting the rebels to the country,” he noted. Rabbani pointed out that the prime minister and his entire cabinet has ignored parliament by taking unilateral decisions on matters of national importance, especially foreign policy. He continued that parliament has been made redundant as prime ministers along with his cabinet is giving no importance to standing committees, those of defence and foreign affairs, which are critical in making any decisions pertaining to defence and foreign affairs.
“If the reports of shift in foreign policy to supply arms to the Syrian rebels are true, it will be no different than carrying forward the legacy and policies of former military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq,” he cautioned. Rabbani further said arming the Syrian rebels will be tantamount to recognising regime change in Syria, which will have serious implications for the country. 
“Don’t forget, if you provide arms to the Syrian rebels today, they can come here tomorrow. Without an iota of doubt, it is like giving new shape to the policies of former military dictator Gen Zia, which we will not allow,” he reiterated.
Meanwhile, Senator Afrasiab Khattak of Awami National Party (ANP) said that the attack on Iranian consulate in Peshawar reflects that we are very much under Saudi influence, adding involvement in Syrian unrest will be a recipe for disaster. He also said that the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has removed 148 checkposts, giving terrorists a free hand, and the attack on Iranian consulate was carried out at a time when there are rumours that government has taken a major policy shift. 
Earlier, the senators stressed the need for proper legislation on National Cyber Strategy which, according to them, is need for the country’s development, defence requirements and also to deal with the menace of terrorism. “The volume of information has dramatically enhanced during last one decade and it is a matter of national importance to have national policy over it.” 
The opposition senators expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that there is no contribution of Pakistan at the local level for technology advancement. They said all developments are made abroad and we just use the technology of others. They also regretted that the sale and purchase of Afghan SIMs was on rise in Pakistan and these are mainly used in kidnapping for ransom cases.

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