February 2016 News

End Active Support To Militants, Pak Parl Panel Advises Govt

2 February 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Neeraj Rohmetra

Jammu: In yet another confession of having supported insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan's Parliamentary Panel on External Affairs has advised its Government to stop providing active support to armed militant groups. Besides, the Parliamentary panel has gone a step further and advised the Pakistani leadership to use its influence for regular monitoring and even take required action against these violent armed groups for damaging the Kashmiri Cause. The panel has also favoured implementation of the Lahore Agreement and all Confidence Building Measures related to security and discontinuation of proactive policy measures on borders. These recommendations have been made in the 23rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, which was held yesterday in the Parliament House, Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari. The official documents of the National Assembly Secretariat dated February 1,2016 and signed by Secretary of the Committee, Nasim Khalid, which is in possession of EXCELSIOR says, 'the Committee after detailed deliberations and discussion on Pakistan's relations with India has made specific policy recommendations - Selective Engagement and Restraint, which were adopted by Committee members'. While elaborating on the policy of Selective Engagement, the document says, 'Pakistan should continue to seek comprehensive engagement with Indian on all outstanding issues including Kashmir, Water, Trade, Culture and Communication'. 'The Committee agreed that Pakistan's approach towards India should be based on key principle of Reciprocity, Reduction of trust deficit between two countries, Resumption of result oriented dialogue aimed at Resolution of conflict', says the report. While making specific mention of Kashmir, the Committee strongly recommended that Pakistan should not encourage calls for active support of armed, banned, militant groups in Kashmir. Confessing the international pressure on Pakistan to stop abetting terrorists, the Parliamentary panel admitted, 'allaying international concerns of not doing enough to tackle 'Alpha elements' working for the Kashmiri cause, the Pakistan should monitor all such groups and take action against violent armed groups'. Favouring reduction of skirmishes along the border, the Committee has also recommended institutionalization of 2003 Ceasefire Agreements and strict border control mechanisms. 'Pakistan should continue to call for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute as the core issue between the two countries, while pursuing the policy of proactive diplomacy on Kashmir on all international fora', says the report. While favouring comprehensive Water Diplomacy with India, the Committee recommended that Pakistan should actively highlight the violations of Indus Water Treaty by India on international forums by drawing attention towards the humanitarian aspects and how these violations are producing an adversely affecting Pakistan's water resources. The Committee urged that water issue should be discussed holistically, rather than focusing on particular projects such as Wullar Barrage- Tulbul Project. There should be a permanent liaison between Ministries of Water and Power and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to promote informed decision making on water related issues with India. There is need to resume Secretary level dialogue between India and Pakistan on the areas of water diplomacy. While referring to trade ties between the two neighbours, the Panel recommended that there is a need to expand legal trade between the two countries while discouraging informal trade and this required testing facilities near borders. Further, Pakistan should call for dismantling of non-tariff barriers in India, in order to create a level playing field for Pakistani products. The Committee also favoured the renewal of Cultural Agreement that took place between India and Pakistan, which was signed in 1988. The renewal of Cultural Agreement should call for cooperation in the field of arts, culture, archaeology, education, mass media and sports. While referring to the policy of Restrainment, the Foreign Affairs Panel said, 'Pakistan should adopt a defensive policy towards India and the thaw between the two countries should also be reflected in discontinuation of proactive policy measures on part of Pakistan, towards India along the borders'. Elaborating further, the document says, 'although it is not complete disengagement, any actions taken under Restrainment are contingent on the Pak-India and South Asian dynamic. For this reason, the salient feature of Restrainment is monitoring on going events and responding proportionately'. The panel also suggested the Government to focus on untapped opportunities for development of bilateral ties with SAARC countries and other regional States such as Iran over energy needs and strengthening the relationship with China to tackle Indian expansionism. The Panel while favouring sustained progress in fields of peace and security stated that both countries should pursue the implementation of the Lahore Memorandum of Understanding and all Measures relating to security. The meeting besides the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee was attended by other members including Daniyal Azia, Mian Najeebuddin Awaisi, Syed Ayaz, Ali Shah Sherazi, Muhammad Khan Daha, Dr Fehmida Mirza, Dir Shireen Nehrunnisa Mazari, Ghous Bux Khan Maher, Ms Naeema Kishwar Khan, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and senior officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.