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Pakistan being founding member of OIC—should attend OIC: Asif Zardari

01 March, 2019

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PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, said that Pakistan — being a founding member of OIC — should attend the meeting.

"I am a democratic man and if the house thinks that the foreign minister should not attend, then I won't say much. But disengagement is not a solution. The foreign minister should attend the OIC meeting. Pakistan should be represented there," Zardari said in the house and suggested that if the foreign minister did not think it appropriate to attend the meeting, he should send the foreign secretary.

He reminded the house that Pakistan was one of OIC's founding member and its ties with the body's members were older and stronger than that of India's.

"Our population is emotional, we are emotional and we think with emotions. Wars are fought against nations — if it comes to that, we are ready for war. But that should be the last resort. Soft diplomacy is the need of the hour," he added. The former president further said that the world dynamics had changed and, therefore, Pakistan must change its way of thinking as well.

Finance Minister Asad Umar started his address by praising the armed forces, adding that the entire parliament was standing united unlike its Indian counterpart.

"Military leadership’s job is to protect and defend the country. But political leadership’s responsibility is to ensure that such a situation does not emerge in the first place," said Umar. "I am proud that in the past 72 hours, Pakistani political leadership has displayed exemplary unity, whereas Indian politicians are divided. We do not see any divide among Pakistanis."

Like everyone in attendance, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also started her speech by paying tribute to the armed forces. She lauded the political parties for "standing by their flag" at a time when India had committed an "act of war".

Rehman praised the prime minister's decision to release Indian pilot Abhinandan.

PML-N's Khawaja Asif welcomed the foreign minister's decision to not attend the OIC meeting. He said that it has been India's wish to become a part of OIC. "Today they have been invited as a guest, tomorrow they will be given the observer status and then they will become a member," he cautioned.

He further said that while the government had taken the right stance, the country needed to introspect and "convince the world that we do not condone terrorism". He pointed out that Pakistan has been combating terrorism for the past 17 years and was the only country that had successfully defeated militancy.

"The groups [created by the West] that were considered as assets have become our liabilities and we need to eliminate them," he insisted. "I said this at [a previous] Munich Security Conference that these [terrorists] were created and dumped on us by the [western powers]."
Reservation over invite to India

In his letter to OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Qureshi said that Pakistan had asked the UAE to withdraw the invitation. Qureshi’s letter invited OIC’s attention towards the deteriorating security situation in the region after violation of the Line of Control (LoC) by India. He said Indian planes intruded Pakistani airspace from Muzaffarabad sector of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and were forced to fly back by the Pakistan Air Force.

The foreign minister had said the intrusion by India was not only violation of international laws but was an aggression that provided Pakistan the right to act in self-defence.

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