WASHINGTON: Pakistan and the United States have pledged to strengthen their ties beyond the strategic partnership in the interest of the people of the two countries.
Pakistan has been assured that Washington would cater to its needs in the fields of security, energy and the economy. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who has come here to attend the Nuclear Security Summit on the invitation of the US President Barack Obama, will have an extensive meeting with the US president immediately after his arrival at Blair House. The meeting was in progress at the time of ourleaders had candid exchange of views and discussed the whole gamut of the Pak-US relationship. It was the second meeting of the two as Barack Obama had his first meeting with Pakistan’s leader two years ago when he was in the process of his election campaign. Prime Minister Gilani has given the wish list of Pakistan covering its requirements for various fields.
Pakistan delegation had the first extremely pleasant surprise when the PM delegation including the media team was not screened at the airport and even they had not to go through the ordinary checking process. The protocol given to the prime minister was unprecedented in the recent history. Pakistan Ambassador in the United States Husain Haqqani and US protocol officials received him at the airport and guard of honour was presented to him. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi accompanied the prime minister. The meeting of Prime Minister Gilani and the US President has attained importance in the backdrop of successful Strategic Dialogue of the two countries last month.
Earlier, a senior US official here said on condition of anonymity that US President Barack Obama will ask Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to take stern and decisive action against banned militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) in Punjab.
The official said that despite the fact that Strategic Plan Division of National Command Authority of Pakistan has about 10,000 trained soldiers to protect country’s nuclear weapons and the infrastructure that produces it, the US still believes that the major threat to Pakistan’s nuclear assets comes from Punjab-based LT that was “struggling hard to get the dirty bomb”.
The official said President Obama in meeting with Prime Minister Gilani would appreciate Pakistan’s role in dealing with the terrorists in Swat and tribal areas of Pakistan. He will also renew the US pledge to overcome Pakistan’s energy crisis, strengthen democratic institutions and country’s economy. But President Obama will be very frank and open in telling the visiting prime minister that it would be in the interest of Pakistan and the world to take action against LT without any delay.
President Obama is also likely to tell Pakistani premier that US will be open in considering all options including the civilian nuclear technology to overcome Pakistan’s energy crisis. The US officials say that LT has continued to flourish in Pakistan. And what makes it so dangerous was that unlike the mostly Pashtun Taliban it recruits its followers in the Punjab - the area where the Pakistani army recruits its officers corps.
A US think tank, Bruce Reidal, who is also considered to be very close to the White House had said in a commentary just a day before the arrival of Prime Minister Gilani in USA that “relationship between the army and the LT is a family affair. That gives the LT the possibility of access to the arsenal through insider connections that other terror groups lack”.
Reidal further states, “LT demonstrated at Mumbai that its goal is mass casualty terror. Detonating a stolen nuclear device planted in an Indian city would be a triumph for the group’s goal of terrorising India like no other attack.
He says Pakistan has taken serious measures to protect the crown jewels of its national security but it lives in a perilous time. If there is a nightmare nuclear security scenario in Pakistan today it is probably an inside the family job that ends up in a nuclear Armageddon in India.