Pakistani politicians have called for action against “non-state actors” who are bringing the country into disrepute, with one lawmaker from the ruling PML-N questioning why nothing was being done to rein in LeT founder Hafiz Saeed.
A leading opposition politician, former interior minister Aitzaz Ahsan, said on Thursday that Pakistan is isolated because it gives “freedom to non-state actors” who may have had a hand in the Uri attack.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly’s standing committee on foreign affairs, PML-N lawmaker Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan specifically named Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed while demanding action against non-state actors, BBC Urdu reported.
Khan questioned why Pakistan was turning a blind eye to Saeed’s activities. “The efficacy of our foreign policy speaks for itself when we couldn’t curtail Hafiz Saeed,” he said.
“India has built such a case against us about the JuD chief that during meetings abroad on Kashmir, foreign delegates mention (Saeed) as the reason for bad relations between Pakistan and India,” he added.
Khan, who was recently sent to France as a special envoy on the Kashmir issue, said Saeed’s name was repeatedly brought up by his French interlocutors. Noting that Saeed was considered a notorious character in international circles, he questioned whether Saeed was “good for the Kashmir cause”.
While backing the Pakistan government’s stance on Kashmir, Khan said banned groups were a source of embarrassment for the country.
Speaking during a special joint session of Parliament convened to discuss tensions with India, former minister Aitzaz Ahsan said: “The government has been completely unsuccessful in imposing restrictions on non-state actors according to the National Action Plan (NAP).”
He criticised the cabinet’s denial of Pakistani involvement in the terror attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri in Kashmir that killed 19 soldiers. “Saying we believe Pakistan has no hand in the Uri attack is not a categorical denial,” he said.
This implied Pakistan did not “know if our non-state actors are behind it”, Ahsan said, according to the website of Dawn newspaper.
“When you cannot completely implement NAP and then something like this happens, the blame will fall on Pakistan and we will be isolated. Then Bangladesh and Afghanistan will not speak to you, and Bhutan and Nepal will begin supporting India,” he said.
“You have isolated Pakistan,” said Ahsan, who is considered one of Pakistan’s leading lawyers.
Ahsan, who also served as law minister, held Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif responsible for Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation as the premier also holds the foreign affairs portfolio. “Pakistan’s isolation is Nawaz Sharif’s personal failure,” he said.
“Nawaz Sharif did not anticipate the Uri attack. Our defence minister said that perhaps India did it themselves to divert attention away from Kashmir…I agree, it is possible, but then why is it Pakistan which is isolated now? It is because you have given freedom to non-state actors.”
He implied non-state actors continue organising protests and rallies and making speeches in Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi. “I don’t want instability in any country, as the blame of that will then fall on us because of these non-state actors,” he said.