Pak wants resolution of all outstanding water issues with India, NA told

Islamabad: The National Assembly was informed on Friday that Pakistan wants resolution of all outstanding water issues with India under the provisions of Indus Basin Treaty.

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Palwasha Khan told the House during question hour that Islamabad has diligently being voicing concerns on the violation of Indus Water Treaty committed by India.

All possible efforts have been made at diplomatic levels to impress upon India that it is in the interest of both the nations that the water treaty be respected.

About relations with Russia, the Parliamentary Secretary said there has been a marked improvement in bilateral ties over the recent years.

She said Pak-Russia bilateral relations are now characterized by intensification of high level visits, mutual trust, better understanding and convergence of views on important political and security issues including regional stability, combating terrorism and drug trafficking.

Cooperation in the areas of energy, steel industry, science and technology, trade, investment, education, agriculture and infrastructure has given new impetus to the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

On a question about drone strikes in tribal areas, Palwasha Khan said Pakistan has a clear stance on it and consider them as violation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty.

These attacks are against the international rules and regulations and are proving counter-productive in the war against terrorism. About the presence of foreign militants in the tribal areas, the Parliamentary Secretary said they also pose greater threat to our security and sovereignty.

She said that about 8715 Pakistani prisoners are languishing in foreign jails including 315 in Afghanistan and 403 in India.

She said Interior Minister Rehman Malik is visiting India and he will raise the issue of the release of Pakistani prisoners. Special cell for Overseas Pakistanis has been set up besides signing bilateral agreements with different countries for the release of prisoners languishing in foreign jails.

Responding to a supplementary question, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs said India has resumed construction on Wullar Barrage Dam and Pakistan has raised this issue in the last water secretary level talks.

She said Pakistan has also taken the Kishanganga Dam Project to the Court of Arbitration which is expected to give its decision in the next six months.

To a question, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs said Pakistan has strongly condemned the Israeli aggression on Palestinians in Gaza. She said Pakistan has not accepted Israel as a state and it still stands by its position.

Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi told the House that Free Trade Agreements have been signed with Malaysia, China and Indonesia to increase its exports. This will help Pakistan reduce its trade deficit.

He said a policy of enhanced trade with Asian and African countries is being pursued to explore new markets for our products. Out exports to Asian countries have increased to 11.5 billion dollars while exports to Africa have also maintained a growing trend.

He said the new trade policy is in the offing which will envisage measures to further facilitate the entrepreneurs and businessmen.

About trade with India, Abbas Khan Afridi said MFN status has so far not been given to India but negotiations are underway on the matter. Decision in this regard will be taken by 31st of this month.

Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah informed the House that compensation of one hundred and fifty thousand rupees is being provided to bereaved families of Pakistani workers who lost their lives in abroad. He said he would recommend the Ministry of Overseas to enhance this compensation to five hundred thousand rupees.