ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has expressed profound concern of his government over the increasing Drone attacks and violation of Pakistan’s air space by the NATO and ISAF helicopters, to the US Government. While underscoring the importance of intelligence sharing and cooperation between Pakistan and US, the Prime Minister stated that the US and ISAF forces should share credible and actionable information with Pakistan’s forces enabling them to take the required action against the possible threat in the bordering areas with Afghanistan.
He, however, said that Pakistan being a front-line ally in the war against terror expects from its partners to respect its territorial sovereignty. He was talking to Mr Leon E. Panetta, Director CIA of US who called on him at the PM’s House here on Thursday.
The Prime Minister noted with regrets the recent New York Times’ story and the assertions made about Pakistan in Bob Woodwords latest book “Obama’s Wars” and stressed the need of positive messaging from the US about Pakistan rather than planted negative comments which would only serve to create misperceptions and mistrust about the friendly bilateral relations.
The Prime Minister also conveyed the disappointment of the people and government of Pakistan over the excessive and unfair tenure of sentence given to Dr Afia Siddiqui by a US court last week. He rued the fact that his government’s persistent efforts to persuade the US government for her repatriation back to Pakistan were ignored. The harsh sentencing had further fueled the anti-American sentiments in the country.
The Prime Minister said that despite the catastrophic flood and consequent precarious economic situation, Pakistan remained resolutely committed to war against terror as it considered that success in this war is vital not only for the peace, stability and economic development of its own but for the world at large. The Prime Minister also noted the statement emanating from the West about a possible staging of terrorist attack from Pakistan’s tribal region in the US and Europe and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to foil any such possible plot if his government is provided credible information in advance by the intelligence apparatus of the US, EU as well as cooperation.
The Prime Minister thanked the US for its material and economic support to cope with the enormous relief, rescue and rehabilitation of the flood affectees. He further mentioned about the measures taken by his government including the national consensus built through the Council of Common Interests by taking all the provinces and federating units on board.
He stated that on the pattern of rehabilitation of internally dislocated persons of Swat and Malakand, Smart Cards were being distributed by the provincial governments in coordination with the Federal Government to the affected families to enable them to get the cash assistance for early recovery and reconstruction of their damaged or destroyed houses.
The Prime Minister noted that out of the total commitments made by the international community for the flood relief and recovery efforts, more than 80% was being routed through the UN agencies or Non-Governmental Organizations. The assistance provided directly to Pakistan Government, he said, is mostly in kind which is being distributed by the provinces and local authorities in coordination with NDMA.
His government, he added, would ensure that the cash assistance given to Pakistan directly is accounted for in the most transparent way. In the same context he mentioned about the establishment of National Oversight Disaster Management Council (NODMC) which includes people of repute and dignity to ensure transparency.
The Prime Minister said that his democratic government is determined to take all the political forces along and build national consensus on every important issue in the country. He highlighted the point that his government had already implemented 27 points out of the 32 agreed in the Charter of Democracy signed between Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and Mian Nawaz Sharif and was determined to carry out the implementation of the remaining five points in the coming months.
The Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction over the remarkable improvement in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations since the onset of the democratic government in Pakistan and stated that Pakistan will continue to cooperate with the Afghan government in every possible manner for restoration of peace, stability and economic development of that country.
He said that Pakistan despite its own economic constraints had contributed US $ 330 million towards Afghanistan’s infrastructure projects, and doubled the number of scholarships as well as training slots for Afghan students and civil servants. Pakistan, he added, was also ready to contribute towards the capacity building of the Afghan national army, police and rebuilding of its institutions. Pakistan, he added, would also support Afghan Government’s national reconciliation and reintegration efforts provided those plans were shared with it.
Mr. Leon E. Panetta, Director CIA of the US, appreciated the Prime Minister’s leadership and reconciliatory policies to tackle important national and regional issues. He acknowledged and expressed the gratitude of the US government over the existing cooperation between the intelligence apparatus of both the countries and conveyed the readiness on part of the US for further strengthening the cooperation and coordination between the two sides in this field.
He conceded the point that the UN had only given the mandate to NATO and ISAF forces to act within the Afghan territory and assured the Prime Minister that the US government would look into the incidence of NATO-ISAF intrusion into Pakistan’s territory.
He underscored the fact that US cannot confront the terrorists without Pakistan’s support which has been crucial for the success in this war. He also reassured the Prime Minister that Pakistan’s sovereignty will be fully respected and the US will try its utmost to provide timely and credible information to Pakistan’s side against any possible terrorist activity on its side of the border to enable Pakistani forces to tack prompt action against the miscreants.
US Ambassador Ms Anne W. Patterson, Minister for Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, DG ISI, Secretaries Defence and Foreign Affairs and other senior officers were also present in the meeting.-SANA