Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, on Monday. Associated Press
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s public acknowledgement in Tehran that terrorists had in the past misused Pakistani territory to undertake attacks against Iran, and other statements concerning foreign countries, came under a blistering attack by the opposition in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Rumpus prevailed in the House during Communications Minister Murad Saeed’s speech in which he attacked former President Asif Ali Zardari and ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The opposition lawmakers chanted slogans against the government. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPs tore apart the copies of the day’s agenda and tossed them in air. They staged a sit-in in front of the speaker’s elevated dais.
In an unprecedented, albeit bold, move, Khan while speaking at a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after their bilateral talks on Monday said: “I know Iran has suffered from terrorism [perpetrated] by groups operating from Pakistan. …we [need to] have trust in each other that both countries will not allow any terrorist activity from their soil. We hope this will build confidence between us.” The rumpus started when former Defence Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khurram Dastagir Khan drew the attention of the House towards the reported statement of the prime minister regarding the use of Pakistan’s soil against Iran.
“No prime minister has ever made such a confession on foreign soil,” Dastagir said, adding that only a day earlier, “the foreign minister had stated that terrorists had entered from Iran to carry out activities in Balochistan.” He said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already linked the bailout package for Islamabad with the findings of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“Pakistan is exposed internationally by such statements,” the opposition lawmaker said.
Another opposition legislator Hina Rabbani Khar, who has previously served as the foreign minister, was unforgiving in her criticism of Khan’s statements. “We are worried for the country after seeing it being continually ridiculed, and not for ourselves. This is not funny anymore. You cannot play with the destiny of the country anymore.” Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari defended the prime minister, saying the opposition had quoted only the first part of the premier’s statement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday that the US decision to deploy more troops to the Middle East in response to the perceived threat from Iran was “extremely dangerous” for peace.
A new umbrella group representing various insurgent outfits operating in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province bordering Iran claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, when 14 passengers were killed after being kidnapped from buses on southwestern Pakistan.
Strains have increased between Iran and the United States in the wake of this month's attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region that Washington has blamed on Iran.
Pakistan and Iran have agreed to set up a joint border “reaction force” following a number of deadly attacks by militant groups on their frontier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Monday after talks with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
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