Terrorism cannot be fought only by using force: Gilani


Kuala Lumpur : Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has spoken of “a new, multi-pronged strategy” to combat terrorism at home, making it clear that it could not be won only by using force.

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Stressing the need for a political dialogue with the pro-Taliban tribals and militants who have been battling the government for long, Gilani told the New Straits Times: “The fight against terrorism cannot be won merely through short-term military, legislative or administrative measures.”

Here to attend the D-8 Summit of Islamic nations, Gilani, however, stressed that “the determination to use force where required remains an important element of our strategy. Our international partners are kept informed”.

“Some countries have expressed an understanding of this policy,” he added, but did not name any country.

“All our efforts are aimed at saving our nation from violence, and marching ahead on the road to progress, prosperity and peace. There has been a considerable decrease in terrorist action over the last couple of months,” he said.

The newspaper placed his remarks in the context of continuing violence, including “the recent bombings which killed 19 people in Islamabad”.

In a passing reference to India and the Kashmir issue, Gilani said: “Pakistan agrees on the need to address the Kashmir dispute. This issue is at the heart of the conflict between Pakistan and India.

“We believe that opportunity exists that must be seized to reach a just settlement of this longstanding dispute which is acceptable to Pakistan, India and to the people of Kashmir.”

On Islamic terrorism, he told a joint media conference along with other D-8 grouping leaders: “Pakistan is in a situation where it is at the frontline against terrorism and extremism, to the point where even our own leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by militants, a victim of terrorism and extremism.

“We are serious about combating this threat so we will use every means possible to fight it.

“We will have political dialogues with militants who surrender so that they will be convinced of our cause.

“We will bring development to the rural areas so every facet of the Pakistani community would have access to economic growth and we will fight them with our military power if we have to.”

The D8 group of Islamic nations was established in June 1997 by eight OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) member states – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey – to promote economic cooperation and development, especially in agriculture, industry, energy and trade.

Gilani said the grouping’s first and foremost priority should be the promotion of intra-D8 trade.

“It is in trade and not in aid that the future of the D8 countries lies. We hope all of us will soon implement the three agreements that we have signed for facilitation of trade promotion.”

Gilani signed with the host country an agreement, the Malaysia-Pakistan Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (MP-CEPA), expressing confidence that bilateral trade was bound to increase manifold.

Malaysian exports to Pakistan are mainly in edible oils. “We are glad that our needs are being met by a friendly country,” said Gilani.