ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that Pakistan is desirous of further expanding its strategic relationship with the US which is devoted to promoting peace, security and cooperation in the region and across the world. The Prime Minister said this while talking to the US Ambassador to Pakistan Ms. Anne Patterson, who called on him here at the PM’s House. The Prime Minister said Pakistan is equally keen to enhancing its bilateral ties with the US in all fields including diplomatic, political, defence, science and technology, socio-economic development especially in trade, energy investment and infrastructure.
He said Pakistan is currently engaged in consolidating the process of democratization that started after the February 18 General Elections in the country. He said that process of formation of governments at centre and provinces has been remarkably smooth. He said political mechanisms are now in place to deal with the diplomatic, political economic and security challenges facing the country. The Prime Minister expressed the confidence that democracy was taking roots in the country and would gradually lead to peace and prosperity in the country.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan is strongly committed to fighting terrorism which, he said, is clearly in Pakistan’s own interest. He said Pakistan would never compromise with militants. It would however keep the doors of dialogue open for those who have laid down the arms and given up terrorism as an instrument of policy. Pakistan has been steadfastly fighting terrorism and has sacrificed and suffered a great deal including the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto at the hands of terrorists, he added.
He stressed the need to address the root causes of terrorism which he said, invariably springs from a deep sense of economic and political injustice, deprivation and hopelessness. Pakistan, the Prime Minister said, is committed to a stable and strong Afghanistan. He said Pakistan is fully conscious of the fact that without a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, peace will continue to elude the region and at the same time block all avenues of economic cooperation between Central Asia, South Asia and South West Asia. He said Pakistan is of the view that international community needs to come forward and do more to accelerate the process of socio-economic development in Afghanistan in order to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.
The Prime Minister said that economic improvement of the people along the bordering areas of Afghanistan can play a crucial role in curbing terrorism in the region. He said that early and expeditious establishment of the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) would go a long way in the economic empowerment of the people in the tribal areas. Ambassador Ms. Anne Patterson said the US is committed to extending all possible support to the broad-based elected coalition government of Pakistan and help it in overcoming the challenges posed by the rise in oil and food prices.
She said that President Bush is anxious to meet the Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani at the World Economic Forum at Sharm-El-Sheikh to know more about the developments in Pakistan and the policies of the elected government. The Prime Minister said that he is also looking forward to his meeting with the President Bush with a view to further strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Pakistan Ambassador designates to the US, Mr. Hussain Haqqani and senior officials of the government also attended the meeting.-SANA