Islamabad (Staff Report): Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday said that Pakistan desires to turn its bilateral relations with the United States towards improvement.

He was speaking in the Senate on Tuesday after PPP Leader Mian Raza Rabbani sought reply on the telephonic conversation that held between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Qureshi said the US Secretary of State is expected to visit Pakistan on the 5th of next month.

“weightage will be given to the opinion of people and its elected representatives while taking forward relations with Washington”, the FM said.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi again clarified that the handout of the US State Department regarding telephonic conservation was contrary to the facts.

He said the conservation between Imran Khan and Pompeo was cordial and constructive in nature. He said that the press release issued by Pakistan on the conservation is based on facts.

The FM pointed out that a national security and foreign policies are interlinked and we should demonstrate unison on them. He said given the challenges faced by the country, unity will give strengthen to over voice.

 He assured that guidance will be taken from the Parliament in formulation of foreign policy.

Taking the floor, Finance Minister Asad Umar said Pakistan has yet not decided to take a bailout package from International Monetary Fund [IMF]. He said consultations on economic situation are continuing and the final decision will be taken after taking on board the Parliament.

About National Finance Commission Award, Asad Umar said it is a constitutional obligation and on the first day in his office, he directed the finance secretary to initiate the process for the new NFC Award. He said it will be his utmost endeavor to announce new NFC Award at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari categorically stated that the new government will strongly and firmly take up the water issue with India.

She told the Senate during question hour today that India has not withdrawn from Indus Water Treaty and it is liable to the provisions of the treaty.

Shireen Mazari regretted that previous governments resorted to the policy of appeasement and did not take up the issue of water effectively with India. She pointed out that India has constructed dams in violation of Indus Water Treaty. She said that Pakistan did take up the matter with the World Bank but it refrained from playing the role of arbitrator. She said we will reassert the Indian side to adhere to the treaty.

Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan told the House that Pakistan is continuously trying to engage Afghan government into dialogue for a possible water treaty. He said that the Afghan side is so far non-responsive to the initiative.

Awan said construction of new hydro power projects in Afghanistan will certainly have some impact on the water inflows in the country. He said an Afghanistan cell has been established in the office of Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters which collects data through difference sources and monitoring inflows on the common rivers with Afghanistan.

He said that the water storage capacity of Tarbela Dam due to silting in the reservoir. He said the best possible arrangement will be to provide and upstream storage to catch the sediment before entering the Tarbela dam.

Minister for Petroleum Division Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India [TAPI] will be completed during the tenure of present government. He said this is an important energy project and a company has been constituted to oversee its construction.

On a point of order, Senior PPP Leader Sherry Rehman appreciated the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan in yesterday’s proceedings of the House. She said the promise made by the government to ensure good governance is also welcomed. She however, said the government should fulfill the promises that it made with the people during the elections.