Amidst opposition’s criticism over weak foreign policy, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz maintained that under meager budgetary resources Pakistan is pursuing a balanced and modest policy to ensure its own national interest.
The Prime Minister’s Advisor expressed these while winding up debate on charge expenditure and demands of grants of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“Our writ would not be completely established in FATA if we did not complete our border management with Afghanistan,” he said.
Our basic changes in foreign policy are non-interference, protection of national interest and protection of our nuclear assets, he said.
While rejecting the impression that Pakistan is being isolated, Aziz said that we have to prioritise foreign policy according to new alignments taking place in world.
He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), CASA-1000, TAPI and Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project are concrete achievements of the country which will help increase connectivity.
The Adviser on Foreign Affairs pointed out that Pakistan is making successful efforts to block India’s entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group.
He pointed out that with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) membership, Pakistan s political role will be enhanced.
“We have historic and religious relations with Muslim countries, we also want good relations with Iran and other neighboring countries,” he said.
He said that the relations with Iran are moving in the right direction and after lifting of sanctions against Iran, relations between Pakistan and Iran will be strengthened.
He said Pakistan is pursuing a policy of no favorite regarding Afghanistan and making efforts through Quadrilateral Group to establish peace in that country.
We would protect our national interest at any cost, he said. He said that we should not neglect our successful foreign policy and should not give negative impression to the world about our policy, he said.
While responding the opposition members, Aziz said that there is no bar in the Constitution to become Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs.
He said that Prime Minister has power to appoint advisors. He said that in the previous governments too there were advisors of various ministries.
About the budgets of different countries, he said that Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry has a budget of Rs 115 billion, Turkey Rs 82 billion, Malaysia Rs 78 billion, Iran Rs 40 billion while Pakistan only has Rs 15 billion.
We presented reasonable demands for approval from the parliament, he said. In the last three years the budget has only increased by 14 percent,” he said.
Earlier, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, while criticising on the foreign policy, said: “Our policy revolves around dollars; show dollars and do what ever you like” he said that our relations with the neighbouring countries are not good.
Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lamented the absence of a foreign minister in the country.
“As a result there is no direction to the country’s foreign policy,” she said. She claimed that our lobby about India to become the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group is very weak.
It would not be our effort only China could play role to block the membership of India, She said.
Jamshed Dasti, Ashia Syed and Khalid Maqbool and other also discussed the demands of the Ministry and criticised the government over the weak foreign policy.
Meanwhile, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan while winding debate on the demands and charge expenditures of his Ministry said that government gave relief to the farmers in Budget-2016-17.
He said that the government reduce tax from 17 percent to 5 percent on Urea fertiliser and zero rating on pesticide. He said that there is need to reduce the cost of production of the farmers.
About food security, he said the country is surplus in wheat, rice, sugar and maize. He said a number of new seed varieties of wheat, pulses and maize have been developed
The Minister defended levy of tax on imported milk powder and said he wants increased taxes on milk to help promote local dairy farming.
Jahangir Khan Tareen of PTI said that there is a need of research on agriculture sector for its development. He said that it is also necessary to reduce the cost of production of the farmers. -Business Recorder