Pakistan leaves field open for India at OIC

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–FM Qureshi announces boycott of Islamic nations meeting after OIC refuses to budge on invitation to Indian FM

–Says Pakistan will oppose any bid to grant observer’s status to India 

–PML-N’s Asif endorses govt’s boycott decision, PPP’s Zardari says ‘not attending meeting is not the solution’

 

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday announced that he will not attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting being held in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He made the announcement during the joint session of the Parliament under Speaker Asad Qaiser for a second day to discuss the motion tabled by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan in the wake of India’s blatant violation of the Line of Control (LoC).

Reiterating his protest against the OIC’s decision to invite Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to attend the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Abu Dhabi, Qureshi said, “Pakistan will not attend the session due to the inter-governmental organisation’s failure to rescind the invitation to his Indian counterpart.”

Mentioning that the “UAE has always helped Pakistan in difficult times”, Qureshi noted with regret that despite Pakistan’s protest, the OIC’s invitation to Swaraj was not rescinded.

“There was no consultation over OIC invitation to Indian foreign minister. India is neither a member nor an observer of the OIC,” Qureshi pointed out, adding that he sent two letters – the latest only yesterday – to the UAE calling upon the body to withdraw its invitation to the Indian foreign minister. He further added that “Ankara and Tehran were also displeased over extending an invitation to New Delhi”.

Qureshi informed the Parliament that he requested the OIC to either rescind the invitation or postpone the session in view of the prevailing situation, neither of which was done.

“I have [therefore] decided not to attend OIC Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi,” the foreign minister announced.

“However, a lower-level delegation from Pakistan will attend the OIC session in order to present Pakistan’s 19 resolutions that also include the human rights violations and persecution of Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir,” Qureshi said.

“Any bid to grant observer’s status to India will be opposed by Pakistan at the OIC,” he added.

The foreign minister further said that the decision was backed by Turkey and the country had promised to play their role in it.

“In Hanoi, United States President Donald Trump said he did not want instability in the sub-continent. The US has long-standing ties with Pakistan, recently its relations with India have improved. Trump directed US envoys to play their part in de-escalating the recent situating. I thank him for the efforts.”

“In my trip to Moscow before the Pulwama attack, I had expressed concerns about possible misadventures from the Indian side. Today, the Indian nation and political opposition are vindicating Pakistan’s stance that Narendra Modi is escalating the situation for political gains,” he said as he referred to Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) regional chief boasting that the air strike will secure at least 22 more seats for the party.

The 46th session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers is being hosted by the UAE in Abu Dhabi on March 1-2, under the title “50 Years of Islamic Cooperation: Road Map for Prosperity and Development.”

PML-N SUPPORTS, PPP OPPOSES DECISION

Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, while addressing the joint session, supported FM Qureshi’s decision to not attend the OIC summit and appreciated that the united front is being shown to the world.

“India is using its Muslim population as leverage to become a member of the OIC. Today, they have been invited as a guest of honour, next they will vie for observer’s status. Hence, I support FM Qureshi’s decision to not attend the OIC,” he said.

“The United State is ready to engage in dialogue after 17-year-long conflict. We are providing them an escape route,” Asif added.

While referring to PM Imran’s call to Modi – which the Indian premier ignored – Asif lamented that Nawaz Sharif was called a traitor for opening a dialogue with Modi.

“Nawaz saw it coming. He urged economic development and ties. Today, Imran is doing the same thing. And we are standing behind him [Imran],” he asserted.

On Kashmir, he said, “Freedom is every Kashmiri’s birth right. Even the United Nations have endorsed that Kashmiris have a right to self-determination which India is denying.”

In his speech, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif thanked Turkey for standing with Pakistan during tumultuous times.

In addition to that, Shehbaz regretted that other allies did not issue any statements favouring Pakistan’s stance.

“It would be good if friendly countries would speak out in support of Pakistan,” he said, adding that “it would have helped to strengthen our position globally”.

“The UAE crown prince is among one of Pakistan’s good friends,” Shehbaz said.

Moreover, the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) president suggested that a delegation of Parliament members should be sent to friendly countries to push Islamabad’s narrative.

In the end, he thanked the armed forces for their sacrifice and paid tribute to the three armed services.

‘PAKISTAN SHOULD ATTEND OIC MOOT’

However, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari was disappointed with the government’s decision to not attend the OIC conference.

“Not attending the meeting is not the solution,” Zardari said. “I suggest the foreign minister attend the OIC meeting. He should go there and talk.”

“The world has changed,” the PPP president said, adding that “it does not matter if the foreign minister goes now or later. He can send the foreign secretary right now.”

“In the current situation, Pakistan should not forget its friends. China, Russia and Turkey should play their part,” Zardari noted.

Zardari stressed that OIC members were Pakistan’s friends. “I believe we should strengthen our ties with neighbours and allies. In 2008, after the Mumbai attack, we contained the situation through diplomatic channels by engaging our allies. I accept the government’s decision to not attend the conference but I would rather we went and held talks with the members.”

He further thanked Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilot Hasan Siddiqui for defending the country.

“Yes, we are both nuclear-armed countries. I would like to mention that Benazir Bhutto brought nuclear technology to Pakistan.”

“We are emotional at the moment but we should not forget that wars are fought between nations and not just armies. And the nation is ready – but it should be our last resort.”

“Modi’s adventure was for elections in India. Wars are not only fought by armies but also by nations,” he said. “We should try to have better relations with our neighbouring countries so that they stand with us in difficult times.”

“We should work on making our economy stronger.”

Following this, Finance Minister Asad Umar addressed the House and paid tribute to the armed forces for doing their jobs.

“It is because of them that we can sleep peacefully at night,” he said.

He further lauded Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan’s talk and said, “The forces are doing their job, the responsibility to ensure regional peace lies with the political leadership.”

He further said, “The nation was united at the moment, unlike India” and urged the Modi-led government to contain war-hysteria.

“Pakistan may be going through an economic crisis but we are fully capable to defend our borders.”

PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS INDIAN AGGRESSION

Following this session, the Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution against Indian aggression tabled by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

“The joint session of the Parliament strongly condemns the blatant Indian aggression on February 26 and 27, 2019 which is completely in violation of the United Nations charter, international law and inter-state laws,” the resolution read.

It further rejected India’s claims of having destroyed alleged terrorist camps and caused heavy casualties.

The resolution emphasised that India’s reckless actions impaired the peace and stability of the region, while endorsing the National Security Committee’s decision to respond to Indian aggression at the “timing and place of its own choice”. Moreover, it condemned the attacks on Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir and the mass arrests.

In conclusion, it reiterated PM Khan’s call to avoid further escalation and urged the Parliament of India to hold a joint session for de-escalation and dialogue between Pakistan and India.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Pakistan will release captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday as a peace gesture.

Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated dramatically on February 14 when a young Kashmiri rammed an explosives-laden car into an Indian paramilitary convoy, killing at least 44 soldiers. India was quick to blame Pakistan for the suicide bombing.

PM Imran offered every possible help in the investigation, but India turned down the offer and whipped up war hysteria.

On February 26, the Indian Air Force violated Pakistani airspace. The country’s top civil and military leadership declared the violation of airspace by Indian fighter jets “uncalled for aggression” and decided that the country would respond at a “time and place of its choosing”.

On February 27, Pakistan announced it had shot down two Indian fighter jets that attempted to violate its airspace and captured an Indian pilot. The military’s media wing later released a video of the pilot, who introduced himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan bearing service number 27981.

 

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