DAVOS: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday said that US drone strikes were only fueling insurgency in Pakistan.
In an interaction with the media here on the fringes of the ongoing annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Gilani said Pakistan was against the “illegal and counter productive” drone strikes along the areas bordering Afghanistan. He said Pakistan has conveyed its concerns to the United States of American in this regard and wishes to settle all issues, as a responsible country, and discuss everything diplomatically.
The Prime Minister said the strikes create sympathy for the victims amongst the population that we are trying to lure away from extremism, while at the same time it lessens space for the government to continue operations against terrorist elements.He said there was no chance of any military coup in Pakistan, as the army desired democracy and stability in the country.
Gilani said “I don’t think there will be a coup in Pakistan ever. There is no threat to democracy.”Gilani said no State institution, military or the people of Pakistan want a coup and all are in favour of democracy.
The international media was particularly interested in the change in the Pakistan-United States ties following the NATO led attack on a Pakistani military post along the Pak-Afghan border in November last year that killed 24 soldiers.
Prime Minister Gilani said the incident was a “turning point” and said it created a bad taste. He said prior to the attack there had been a number of other incidents that had already strained ties between the two countries to a large extent.
He said the Defence Committee of the Cabinet decided to define new terms of engagements and it was decided to cut off the NATO supply lines, get the Shamsi base vacated and boycotted the Bonn Conference. He said the Pakistan’s parliament would be defining new terms of engagement and hoped the new terms would be more productive and lasting.
To a question, Gilani said under the earlier policy, the former President, Musharraf took all decisions without taking the people of Pakistan into confidence.“If there is no support of the public, no one can win a war,” the Prime Minister said.
He said Pakistan has already paid huge sacrifices as it has lost over 30,000 civilians and 5,000 military personnel, besides incurring heavily at the economic front.
Gilani said Pakistan was paying the heavy price for peace, progress and prosperity of the entire world.When asked about the presence of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the Prime Minister said “it was the failure of the intelligence agencies of the whole world.
”To a question about the Swiss hostages in Pakistan, Gilani assured the government was doing all for their safe recovery and said the Swiss ambassador in Pakistan was constantly in touch with the intelligence agencies of the country.
To a question by an Indian journalist, that if there is another Mumbai style attack, Gilani said “ifs and when do not make a story”.“We have resumed comprehensive dialogue with India,” he said and mentioned his visit to Mohali to see Cricket World Cup semi-final at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“We are in the process of normalizing trade relations with India which will benefit the people of both the countries.”Gilani said Pakistan attaches importance to its relations with Afghanistan and a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in the strategic interest of Pakistan.
“We see Pakistan as a factor of peace, stability and development in the region,” Gilani said. He said Pakistan desires good relations with all its neighbours and if India has any information it can share it with Pakistan.He termed Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh a “genuine person” and said he too was desirous of resolving all issues with Pakistan, including the core issue of Kashmir.
He said Pakistan was actively engaged with its partners in SAARC and ECO for promoting economic cooperation and sharing prosperity among the regional countries. Prime Minister Gilani pointed to the challenges the country faced.
“We have to eradicate terrorism from its roots, we have to create more jobs for our young people, we have to invest in energy and physical infrastructure and to pay more attention to health and education,” the Prime Minister said and added “We are facing all these challenges upfront and squarely.”He said Pakistan today was a functioning democracy with a fully empowered parliament. “We have a vibrant civil society, free media and an independent judiciary,” he said.
Prime Minister Gilani said his government has been pursuing a policy of reconciliation with other political forces in the country. He said reconciliation, in fact was the legacy of Shaheed Mohtarma
Benazir Bhutto, who sacrificed her life for democracy and rights of downtrodden in the society. “Our policy of reconciliation has resulted in the adoption of land mark 18th Amendment by consensus in both Houses of the Parliament,” the Prime Minister said.Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan has immense potential and was endowed with an array of assets, the most important of which was its young population.
Gilani said Pakistan was at the confluence of South, Central and West Asia and provides a natural land bridge and energy corridor between energy rich and fastest growing economies of the world.
He said the under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the President has voluntarily surrendered his powers to the parliament and the Federation has agreed to transfer resources and responsibilities to the provinces.He said it could rightly be described as a quiet revolution towards building a strong and prosperous Pakistan.
The Prime Minister said despite weak international economic outlook, Pakistan’s economy has been doing reasonably well.
He mentioned unprecedented floods of 2010 and said these were followed by devastating flood in Southern parts of the country in 2011. “We are confident that with unmatched resilience of our people we shall emerge stronger from these challenges,” Gilani said.He said Pakistan has friendly relationship with the EU countries, which was its largest trading partner and pointed that Pakistan was in the process of concluding five-year engagement plan with the EU.
Pakistan and U.S. have longstanding friendly relations and both countries understand the importance of this relationship. “In the light of recent events, we are reviewing our relations to build a long term relationship on the basis of mutual respect, trust and interest,” Gilani said. (APP)