ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that Pakistan and the new US Administration must base their relationship on trust, cohesion and understanding of each other’s strengths and constraints in their struggle against extremism and terrorism. The Prime Minister was talking to the US Special Representative Mr. Richard Holbrook who called on him here at the PM’s House on Tuesday.
He said that Pakistan would like to engage with the US to build a new global strategic consensus for peace, security and stability in the region. He underlined the importance of enhanced cooperation in defence and intelligence sharing. The Prime Minister underscored the need for developing a comprehensive strategy to deal with the issue of terrorism, militancy and extremism with emphasis on dialogue and development.
The Prime Minister said Obama’s administration should reconsider the policy of the US incursions as such actions have proved counterproductive and are promoting anti-American feeling in the area while severely undermining the public support for the counter terrorism measures.
He also underlined the need for taking steps for the elimination of drug money which is the main source of funding to the terrorists. Deliberating upon the outstanding issue of Kashmir which bedeviled Pakistan-India relations for over six decades, the Prime Minister called for the early resolution of the dispute to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.
Referring to the importance of early passage of legislation pertaining to ROZs, the Prime Minister said that this would help address the root causes of extremism and terrorism which stem from economic deprivation and social inequality.
Richard Holbrook said that he has come to listen to the Pakistani leadership to understand the ground situation. He said he is neither carrying any messages from his leadership nor has any demands to make. He said that the US despite its economic difficulties will fully support Pakistan in overcoming its current economic problems.
He specifically mentioned that President Obama feels close affinity towards Pakistan as he in his younger days had widely traveled the country. Holbrook agreed with Pakistan’s proposal to form a parallel group to coordinate with his team to review new US strategy towards Afghanistan, Pakistan and terrorism. He urged that a Pakistani team comprising all the important and relevant departments may visit the US in March as the new US administration would like to complete its strategic review before the forthcoming NATO summit.
Holbrook also requested the Prime Minister for his government’s assistance in locating and releasing of New York Times journalist, Mr. David Rhodes, who has been abducted in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister assured his government’s full support in this regard. The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Federal Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar and other senior officials. US Ambassador Ms. Anne W. Patterson was also present in the meeting.