The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee met under Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament House where a detailed 3-hour long briefing was provided by Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the Committee on the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir with reference to political prisoners, as well as Foreign Policy challenges for 2021. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Foreign Minister presented the dossier on “Indian state sponsorship of terrorism and destabilisation in Pakistan” to Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who directed the Foreign Office for wide dissemination of the Dossier internationally.
On the Special initiative of the Chairman, relatives of prominent political prisoners in Indian occupied Kashmir like Mushaal Malik, wife of Yasin Malik together with her mother and daughter, as well as Dr. Mujahid Gillani, nephew of Mohtarama Aasiya Andrabi plus prominent Kashmiri activist in UK, Raja Najabat Hussain also attend the meeting on special invitation.
The Foreign Minister informed the Committee that the OIC Foreign Ministers Conference will be held in Islamabad later this year, in which the primary focus would be the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir and in this regard, the Government will ensure that Human Rights and the issue of Kashmiri political prisoners would be in the forefront. He also informed the Committee that an Economic Diplomacy Division has been established in Foreign Office which would focus on trade, commerce and investment as key components of Pakistan Foreign Policy.
The Foreign Minister also briefed the Committee that CPEC had now entered the second phase in which relocation of Chinese industry, job creation and the activation of two new Joint Working Groups (JWGs) on Agriculture and international cooperation, respectively, will be a force-multiplier for building CPEC. The Foreign Minister informed that he had just concluded a virtual Envoys Conference for Africa and he was convening another virtual Envoys Conference for Europe. He also said that on FATF, the Foreign Office was hopeful that a positive decision would be made for Pakistan at next month’s FATF meeting, since out of 27 items, Pakistan was fully compliant with 21 and there had been substantial progress on the remaining 6 items and he was hopeful that no politically motivated decision would be taken.
On the Coronavirus, pursuant to the telephonic talk between Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and China on January 20, China had agreed to gift 500,000 doses of vaccine plus another 1.1 million doses would be given very soon. The Foreign Minister also briefed the Committee on Pakistan Foreign Policy’s priorities with reference to relations with China, Muslim world, engaging with the new Biden administration, Afghanistan, India and the EU.
The Foreign Affairs Committee also unanimously passed a resolution saluting the heroism, courage and resilience of Kashmir political prisoners, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Aasiya Andrabi, Syed Ali Gillani, Mir Waiz Umar Farooq and demanded their immediate release as they are held illegally on trumped-up charges. The Committee also lauded the January 26 Black Day protests in Indian occupied Kashmir as well as within India and expressed solidarity with the struggling Sikh farmers and added that “it is heartening to note that famous Pakistani songs have become popular anthems of resistance among the Indian people”. The resolution also urged the Government that the RSS, which is the ideological mainstay of the Modi regime, should be ‘fully exposed and penalised’ at all international fora.
The Committee members thanked the Foreign Minister for his comprehensive and candid briefing and Senator Mushahid Hussain said that, as in the past, the Foreign Affairs Committee would continue to preserve, promote and protect Pakistan’s national interest with particular reference to Foreign Policy and national security and function above partisan politics and be a force-multipliers for Pakistan’s core interests. A candid discussion also ensued amongst the members present including Senator Javed Abbasi, Senator Nuzhat Sadiq and Senator Seemee Ezdi. Ms. Rabeea Anwar, Secretary of the Committee, was also present.