–PPP’s Hina Rabbani lashes out at PM for turning country into laughing stock with factually incorrect statements
–PML-N’s Dastagir says Imran has exposed Pakistan internationally by admitting presence of terror outfits in country
–PTI’s Murad Saeed says PPP working on Indian agenda, Shireen Mazari says premier’s statement taken out of context
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) session on Tuesday began with blistering criticism of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement in which the premier conceded that Pakistani soil had been used in the past by militants to carry out attacks in Iran.
On the second day of his maiden trip to Iran, PM Imran addressed a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran following bilateral talks and acknowledged that Tehran had suffered terrorism from groups operating from within Pakistan.
He emphasised that the “entire political spectrum agreed that no militant group will be allowed to operate from Pakistan” and added that the “decision was made through consensus within the country and not due to external pressure”.
Both leaders agreed on a ‘rapid reaction force’ to be deployed on a shared border as part of efforts to deal with the growing threat of terrorism.
But the premier’s bold statement garnered controversy back home with lawmakers questioning the wisdom behind publicly admitting the presence of anti-Iran groups in the country.
The rumpus in the House started when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Khurram Dastagir Khan drew the attention of the members towards the reported statement of the prime minister regarding the use of Pakistan’s soil against Iran.
“No prime minister has ever made such a confession on foreign soil,” Dastagir said, adding that only a day earlier, “the foreign minister had stated that terrorists had entered from Iran to carry out activities in Balochistan.”
He said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already linked the bailout package for Islamabad with the findings of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“Pakistan is exposed internationally by such statements,” the PML-N lawmaker said.
He also accused the prime minister of having said previously that the Pakistani military had created militants.
“The prime minister has committed diplomatic blunders,” the PML-N leader alleged. “Through his statements, the [premier] has hurt national security.”
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MNA and former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar censured the cricket-turned-politician for his statements.
“Our prime minister stood beside the Iranian president and said that our soil was being used for terrorist activities. This is not funny anymore,” she said.
She also slammed the premier for suggesting that incumbent premier and rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi’s re-election would strengthen chances of a peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute. “He has mainstreamed massacres in India. He has the blood of innocent Kashmiris on his hands. But our prime minister believes he [Modi] will solve the Kashmir dispute,” she added.
She claimed that people had been declared “traitors” for engaging with the Indian prime minister in the past, but now Prime Minister Imran was “endorsing that if [Modi] is re-elected the Kashmir issue would be resolved”.
In a reference to PM Imran’s factually incorrect statement about Germany and Japan, the parliamentarian expressed concerns over the country being “continually ridiculed”. She said, “This was not a slip of the tongue. The prime minister has distorted both geography and history for all of us.”
She continued, “The honourable prime minister went at length to explain how Germany and Japan are neighbours and how post World War II they shared a border. History tells us that both [Germany and Japan] were on the same team but the prime minister is telling us they were adversaries. Japan is located in East Asia while Germany is located in Europe.”
“This is an elected prime minister of a country and he has made us a laughing stock in front of everyone,” Khar added.
She further said that in the past as well, other people who had said “much less severe things” were “ousted from the country and cases were filed against them and their right to be elected was taken away”.
In reply, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that only half of the prime minister’s sentence was being repeated and taken out of context. “It was a slip of the tongue. The prime minister wanted to say Germany and France and not Germany and Japan,” she said.
“The next part of his sentence was that those who killed people in Ormara came from Iran,” she said. “The entire sentence should be heard. If we want to eliminate terrorism we need to first tackle the banned organisations on both sides of the border. Both Iran and Pakistan need to tackle them.”
Responding to the opposition’s criticism of Imran’s statement regarding Modi’s re-election, Mazari turned her guns on the PML-N’s supreme leader, recalling that Modi had in the past visited the Raiwind residence of the Sharifs and that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had refused to meet All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders even though he had attended the oath-taking of Modi in India.
Minister for Communication Murad Saeed also responded to the remarks made by former PPP foreign minister.
Murad said that Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was advocating the case of India at a time when Pakistan was at war and shooting down Indian airplanes violating the country’s sovereignty.
He said that Hussain Haqqani who was talking against Pakistan was appointed Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States by PPP.
Murad Saeed accused former foreign minister Khawaja Asif for giving his statement in the United States that terrorists were operating in Pakistan.
The names of Asif Ali Zardari, his sister and Bilawal Bhutto were mentioned in the case of fake bank accounts, he continued.
While referring to the death of a girl in a hospital in Sindh, he criticised the performance of departments of police and health departments in Sindh and blamed the provincial government for rising poverty in the province.
The minister said that Bilawal could not read without “chit” and even his fee at Oxford University was paid from public money.
Murad said that Imran Khan engaged the United States on the basis of equality and under his leadership, Pakistan Armed Forces gave a befitting response to India.
As Murad was speaking on the floor of the House, opposition members disrupted proceedings and tore copies of the agenda. Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri who was chairing the session suspended the proceedings for 20 minutes.