ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday, recommended that both Pakistan and India should restore full diplomatic ties by sending back their respective high commissioners for their diplomatic assignments.

Chaired by MNA Mohsin Dawar, the committee recommended that diplomatic relations between Pakistan and India should fully be restored so that the people of the two countries should take benefit of the opportunities that exist.

The committee further recommended that Pakistan should send its high commissioner back to New Delhi and India to Islamabad.

However, talking informally to journalists after the meeting, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said that the committee has the right to make recommendations to the government.

“But it is the mandate of the executive to decide, given the prevailing situation, as to what is better in the interest of the State of Pakistan and what is not,” she said with regard to the committee recommendation.

Pakistan and India downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended bilateral trade two days after New Delhi stripped the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status on August 5, 2019.

Briefing the committee on the foreign minister’s recent visit to Goa, India, to participate in the meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, Foreign Secretary Dr Asad Majeed Khan said that the foreign minister’s participation in the SCO-CFM reaffirmed the relevance of the SCO and the importance that Pakistan attaches to regional peace, security, economic prosperity, and connectivity.

He said that Bilawal’s visit was in the context of SCO and as per the tradition the member States do not bring bilateral issues on the SCO platform.

However, to respond to the insinuating remarks of Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar over “cross border terrorism,” the foreign secretary added that the foreign minister in his statement, condemned the “unilateral and illegal measures by States in violation of international law and Security Council resolutions”, which run counter to the SCO objectives.

He said that the foreign minister was also successful in highlighting Pakistan’s narrative on terrorism and the successful fight against terrorism and the sacrifices of our people and armed forces.

Alluding to the current political dispensation in India, the foreign secretary said that the foreign minister emphasized collective action to fight against “fascism, and historical revisionism that leads to violent ultranationalism as well as to ensure that racism and xenophobic ideologies, have no place in today’s world.”

He said that it was also an opportunity as Pakistan’s case has not been forcefully presented on Indian soil since 2012.

He said that the dispute over Kashmir has legal and moral dimensions and that Pakistan has successfully conveyed the parallels between Kashmir and Ukraine in terms of applicability of the international law.

Referring to the G-20 moot in the Indian-Occupied Kashmir, the foreign secretary said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained that such summits may not legitimize the illegal and unilateral annexation of the occupied territories. He said that China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt did not register to participate in the G-20 moot.

Referring to the Statement of the UN Special Rapporteurs regarding the violation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, he added that Pakistan has successfully altered the perceptions of the international community regarding the Kashmir issue.

The chairman of the committee remarked that Parliament has ceded space to “non-elected officials” on policies pertaining to India and Afghanistan and underscored a greater role for the public representative in foreign policy.

At the outset of the meeting, one of the members, Mehnaz Aziz raised concerns as to why the US congressmen lent support to a political party in Pakistan that has supported mob attacks in Pakistan.

She stated that such support ran contrary to the spirit of democracy where the rule of law, rights of individuals and social justice prevail and where stronger democracies support fragile democracies.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Mohammad Khan Daha, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Nauman Islam Sheikh, Mohammad Abu Bakar, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, and Mehnaz Akbar Aziz.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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