Gilani's message to US: Can't do more in war on terror
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday countered United States accusations linking the Inter-Services Intelligence to terror groups in Afghanistan, calling them "surprising", while stating that his country cannot be pressured to "do more" in the war against terror.
"Pressure cannot be put on Pakistan to do more (in the war on terrorism). Our national interests must be respected under all circumstances," Gilani said while opening a meeting of the country's political leadership that he convened to forge a consensus response to tensions with the US.
The premier rejected allegations by senior US officials, including military chief Adm Mike Mullen, linking Pakistan's spy agency to the Haqqani network and recent terror attacks in Afghanistan, saying these accusations were a cause of concern for Pakistan.
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Image: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari met on Wednesday night
'All doors for dialogue with US are open'
Referring to steps taken by Pakistan to back the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and a sudden spurt in terror attacks in the neighbouring country, Gilani said, "In the light of these events in Afghanistan, the US leadership's statements were surprising for us as they were contrary to Pakistan's sacrifices and successes against terrorism and extremism".
He added, "While rejecting all these accusations, we have focussed on positive and responsible ways to resolve these problems".
Enhancing positive and deeper contacts at all levels alone can pave the way for solving these problems, he said. Gilani said, "All doors for dialogue are open" to resolve differences with the US.
At the same time, Pakistan expects the cooperation of the world community, Gilani said.
Image: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Pak Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar
'Pakistan proud of its armed forces'
In an apparent response to US threats of unilateral action against terrorist groups like the Haqqani network based in Pakistan's tribal belt, Gilani said, "The nation is proud of its armed forces and they have never disappointed us in matters of defending the country".
"We will be united to take on these challenges. While setting aside political differences, my request is that all attention should be focussed on challenges facing the country so that people in Pakistan and the outside world see we are fully united on matters of national security," he said.
Pakistan's political leadership and the people are fully committed to defend the geographical boundaries of their motherland and its independence and sovereignty, he contended.
Image: Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
'Pak leadership committed to defend its independence, sovereignty'
Gilani convened the meeting of the top leadership of political and religious parties to fashion a united response to the US accusations linking the ISI to the Haqqani network as well as growing pressure from the Obama administration to crack down on Taliban and the Al Qaeda elements in the tribal belt.
The premier's speech was followed by in-camera briefings by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who returned from a visit to the US, and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
The meeting was also attended by Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne.
Among the leaders who have participated in the meeting are PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hasan, Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and PML-Q head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
Image: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif with Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan
Photographs: File photo