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Pakistan PM for multi-pronged strategy to combat terrorism
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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July 29, 2008 11:43 IST

Pakistan has stressed on a multi-pronged strategy, involving intensifying military operations and taking steps to change the lifestyle of people in its bordering areas with Afghanistan, to curb terrorism.

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, who met US President George W Bush [Images] in Washington on Monday, did not rule out adding more muscle to military operations in the war on terror while Bush said Islamabad must do "more" on this front.

"Prime Minister Gilani also talked about how do you help change the lifestyle of people in the region so that they have a hopeful future rather than one based on terrorism. They have complex issues on the border there, especially when they have refugees -- about 3 million refugees from Afghanistan living in the border area. The president pledged support for that," White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said.

Both the leaders talked about counter-terrorism efforts, and especially what can be done to provide training for their military.

"When it comes to counter-terrorism, President Bush feels that all of us need to be doing more. And the prime minister talked about some of the efforts that they've been working on, especially in terms of coordination with our military and training that we have provided," she said.

The US last week announced that it would work towards resolving the F-16 repair and maintenance issue.

"I think they agreed and reaffirmed this is a war that we need to be fighting together. So they talked about it more in broader terms rather than operational details," she said.

Pakistan's economic condition and the level of American assistance were also discussed.

The US also bluntly told Pakistan to rein in the terrorists groups operating from its soil. Bush has told Gilani that his government should ensure that the Pak-Afghan border should be secured "as best as possible."

"Certainly he didn't rule it out, in terms of adding more from the military point of view. And he did say that it was -- his singular focus was to try to deal with this counter-terrorism issue," Perino said in response to a query on whether Gilani had agreed to step up the military ante.

"I think that when he talks about the war on terror, when it's from his perspective, he doesn't think that this is a war on terror just being waged against the United States. I mean, his good friend ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto [Images] was killed
by terrorists. And so they have incentive and every reason in the world to try to go after them as well," she said.

Gilani asked the president for continued assistance which Bush gladly agreed.

"Their economy is something that we also remain concerned about. And, of course, when it comes to the humanitarian condition, President Bush is concerned about people who are not able to afford food, and that's why we are going to provide the $115 million in food aid," she added.

Perino declined to discuss the latest missile attack and if the leaders discussed it.

Bush hoped that good relation between both the countries will continue.

"I think it means that we believe that working together with the Pakistanis is the best way to go after terrorists. And we all need to do more. And we need to do it more aggressively. And we need to do it with more resources and with the cooperation of our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and the Afghan government," the spokeswoman replied.

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