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Stop drones, share credible intelligence, Gilani tells US

19 April, 2011

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani urged the US on Monday to end its drone strikes in Pakistan and said that Washington should share intelligence better to allow the country to wage its own war on terror.

While speaking in the National Assembly (NA), Gilani said that the issue of drone strikes was discussed in detail during his meeting with US House Speaker John Boehner and that he appraised Boehner about the growing unrest among the public due to the US unmanned aerial strikes.

Gilani said, “I told him that you will have to respect our political and military efforts if you want to succeed in the war on terror.”

“We are trying to secure drone technology from the US so that after gaining information from their intelligence reports, we can hit the militant hideouts in tribal region”, he added. He reiterated that the war against terrorism is Pakistan’s own war, which Pakistan would fight to eliminate the enemy that is posing a serious threat to the country.

Responding to Opposition’s criticism on the drone attacks, Gilani said that the government is sensitised about public concern arising from such attacks, which also has its effects on the national defence.

He vowed not to compromise on the national interests and said, “If a resolution is passed by parliament regarding the US predator attacks, it would send a strong signal that the whole nation is united against the drone attacks”.

Gilani also said, “We are a frontline state. We are facing a difficult situation,” adding that he told Boehner that stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan “will ensure stability in the entire world.”

Gilani also spoke in the NA about his visit to Afghanistan and shared with the House what transpired in the meeting between the leadership of both the countries.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to put in place a two-tier mechanism to enhance bilateral cooperation to generate peace and stability in the region, Gilani said.

Responding to issues pertaining to his visit to Afghanistan raised by the Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Gilani said that a broader consensus is now prevailing in the war-torn neighbouring country, which agrees that Pakistan had suffered immensely due to the terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

In the light of this realisation on part of both the countries, he said that it has been decided to take effective and durable efforts for the security and peace in two countries.

He said that the two-tier mechanism agreed by both the countries would lead to the achievement of this very goal.

While elaborating it, Gilani said that at the first tier, the country’s president, prime minister and the army chief would be in contact with their counterparts in Afghanistan, whereas at the second tier, relations would be established and strengthened between the officials and representatives of army and intelligence agencies of the two countries. He declared that Pakistan wants to strength its bilateral relations with Afghanistan along with the trilateral relations by establishing contacts through another country like the US and Turkey.

The prime minister said that a radical change has taken place in the bilateral relations since the political government came into power in 2008 by declaring that both the countries have travelled a long way in the last three years. Gilani said that Pakistan would welcome any Afghanistan-owned initiative to find out a political solution to the turmoil and assured that Pakistan would not create any hurdle in this regard.

“Pakistan wants a peaceful and stable Afghanistan as the interests of both the countries are intertwined”, he added. While talking about the relations between the government and the army, he categorically stated that the civilian government and military leadership are on the same page in the larger national interest.

The army chief and ISI’s DG, accompanying the delegation visiting Afghanistan, should put all speculations and differences in opinions, such as those on war against terror and Afghanistan, to rest.

“Role of the intelligence agencies should not be viewed with suspicion as they are acting in the supreme national interest,” Gilani appealed and concluded the talk.


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