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New US administration to respect Pak sovereignty: McCain

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that Pakistan is determined to root–out extremism and terrorism not because its friends and allies so desired but because it is the foremost threat to its security, integrity, economy and social fiber. He called for the US and Pakistan’s other Allies better understanding of the ground realities of the present security situation in the region and sought their assistance in building capacity of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism.

The Prime Minister expressed these views while talking to the US Senate Delegation headed by Senator John McCain, and included Senator Joe Lieberman and Lindsay O. Graham, which called on him here at the PM’s House this afternoon.

The Prime Minister briefed the US Senate Delegation, in detail, on Pakistan’s role against terrorism, the underlining causes begetting extremism, his government’s efforts to improve relations with all the neighboring countries and remarkable patience shown by Pakistan’s political leadership to defuse the situation rather than indulging in jingoistic rhetoric in the face of all kind of provocations in the aftermath of Mumbai terrorist attacks.

The Prime Minister said that Pakistan remains committed for having cordial relations with India. Pakistan, he added had condemned the Mumbai incidents in strongest possible terms. It had assured the Indian leadership of its complete cooperation in investigations of this ghastly crime and had offered formation of joint commission headed by the National Security Advisors of the two sides aided by representatives of their respective intelligence apparatus, he said.

The Prime Minister while reiterating Pakistan’s resolve not to allow its territory for any terrorist activity stated that any such attempts would be thwarted. He also highlighted the fact that he has taken all the political stakeholders on board on this issue by hosting an all Parties conference on December 2, and hence the whole nation stood united against this challenge.

Senator McCain commended Pakistan’s role and policy against terrorism. He acknowledged Pakistan’s great sacrifices as well as Pakistan’s mature reaction to Mumbai terrorist attacks.

He lauded Pakistan’s readiness to cooperate in every possible way with the Indian government to bring the perpetrators of those incidents to justice. He also briefed the Prime Minister on his delegation’s meeting with the PML (N) leadership and appreciated their positive approach towards this end.

Senator McCain assured the Prime Minister that US wanted a committed and solid strategic relationship with Pakistan on long term basis.

While recalling that even during his presidential campaign, Senator McCain said he had openly voiced his sentiments against the attempts to violate Pakistan’s territory. He expressed the hope that the new US administration would also respect the Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Senator McCain termed the introduction of Presslar Amendment against Pakistan a mistake which adversely impacted on the cordial relationship between the armed forces of the two countries, in the past. He hoped that under the present leadership, the two armed forces would be able to restore their relations and cooperation of 1980s.

Senator McCain further said there was bipartisan support for Biden-Lugar Bill in the new US Congress. He undertook to work for its expeditious passage for providing the urgently required assistance to Pakistan. He also assured the Prime Minister of his delegation’s support for capacity building of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies to adequately equip them to deal with terrorism.

Senators Lieberman and Graham fully endorsed Senator McCain’s views and vowed to jointly write a letter to the US Senate leadership, on their return, for taking measures for early passage of the Biden-Lugar Bill from the Congress. The meeting was attended by the Minister for Defence, Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The US Ambassador Ms. Anne W Patterson was also present in the meeting.-SANA

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Noreen Gill

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