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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif warned on Monday that with the defeat of the Nato-led Isaf forces in Afghanistan despite spending $2 trillion, the time has come Pakistan must not repeat its "strategic depth" policy in the neighbouring country.

Taking part in a debate on president's address to the joint sitting of parliament, he referred to a recent briefing to a parliamentary committee on national security by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, and said that the situation in Afghanistan could have far-reaching effect in Pakistan, if past mistake of the "strategic depth" is not abandoned.

He said that unity is the need of the hour to meet the internal and external challenges. He said given the situation evolving in neighbouring Afghanistan, it is imperative for us to bring to mainstream the tribal districts.

"The strategic depth policy [in Afghanistan] should be abandoned, as it proved to be wrong and instead we should embrace our people living in the border areas near Afghanistan as they are our brethren and are as patriotic as anybody else in this country," he maintained.

Asif said that the situation being developed in wake of the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan can only be tackled, if we are united, adding what we heard in the briefing, the situation can cave in any time.

"We've not covered any real area in last 72 years, and have only been running on the treadmill, which is of no use...despite all the shocks we had had so far, it's because we failed to strengthen this institution [the parliament]," he regretted.

He continued that if constitutional boundaries had been trespassed in the last 72 years, it is mainly due to politicians as we are the people who negotiated and surrendered our territory for the sake of power for a particular party or an individual.

He warned that if this remained the attitude of the politicians, we might not be able to cope with the challenges in wake of Afghanistan situation, as it would ultimately affect us, adding the rhetoric of "all well" may not work as it all depends on the situation in Afghanistan.

He said that the US spent $2 trillion but had to kiss the dust, wherever it intervened - be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or elsewhere - as they had come with great fanfare, but the way they left with their tails between their legs, was far worse than what Americans had faced in Vietnam.

"The power game being played for the last several decades without the consent of the people of the country and it is not going to work any longer. The PML-N and the PPP had acrimony against each other but we learnt a lesson and all the politicians should not repeat those mistakes for the sake of the country," he maintained.

Referring to his stay in jail for about six months, the PML-N leader also acknowledged that his 'software' got updated, but he also warned other lawmakers - both opposition and treasury - to beware as their turn is also inching closer given the current scenario in the country.

Raja Parvez Ashraf of Pakistan People's Party (PPP), who is also a former prime minister, said that being a frontline state in the war on terrorism, Pakistan suffered colossal material and human losses.

He regretted that these sacrifices have not been acknowledged by the world community especially the US in true spirit, adding the way our security forces overcome the menace of terrorism is really commendable and the world should accept it.

Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said that the decision to hold board exams this year for matric and intermediate was taken with consensus after consultation with all the four provinces. He asked the opposition leaders not to do politics on the matter as it is the matter of the future of students.

He said that no country can progress without education and no exam means depriving the young generation of their rights. Keeping in view the closure of educational institutes, he added, maximum effort was made to facilitate the students as the Covid-19 situation in the country has badly affected the students as schools remain shut for several months.

The minister said that we reduced the syllabus as well as the number of subjects for the students appearing in the board exams, adding we also extended the time for taking the exams to provide sufficient time to the students to prepare for the exams.

He said the majority of the students have appreciated these decisions, adding 95 percent of the students are now appearing in the board exams, while exams are already over in Balochistan. The Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Wajiha Akram Khan, laid "The Pakistan Global Institute Bill, 2021" before the House, which was referred to the concerned committee for further deliberation.

Aliya Hamza of the PTI was all praise for the government's economic policies, saying these have resulted in increase of exports and decrease in imports. She said there is also a record increase in remittances and they reached 29 billion dollars during the last fiscal year. Four periodical reports of various standing committees were also laid before the House.

On behalf of Chairman Standing Committee on Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a member of the committee Sardar Ayaz Sadiq presented the Periodical Report of the Committee for the period 1st July, 2019 to December 31, 2019 and January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.

Chairman Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication Ali Khan Jadoon presented the Periodical Report of the Standing Committee for the period July-December 2020. On behalf of the Chairman Standing Committee on Water Resources, a member of the committee Ali Nawaz Awan presented the Periodical Report of the Committee for the period January June, 2020.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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