US military buildup in Afghanistan should not affect Balochistan: Pakistan PM


Islamabad : Pakistan on Wednesday asked the United States to take it into confidence on its Afghan policy and ensure that a military buildup in Afghanistan does not have any “effect” on Balochistan and other areas.

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Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, talking to a US Congressional delegation led by Johan Tierney at the PM House, also asked the US and ISAF forces to enhance intelligence sharing with Pakistan to solidify the ongoing operation against militancy on the Pak Afghan border.

Gilani asked the United States to take Pakistan into confidence on the new Afghan policy, under review by the US administration.

He said it was crucial to “sanitize” the Pak Afghan border to prevent the flow of weapons, drugs, illicit money and militants.

Gilani said Pakistan considered Afghanistan’s stability vital for its own and was looking forward towards continued cooperation with the new Karzai government.

He said the United States should channelize its economic assistance through a transparent mechanism established by Pakistan.

In this regard, he mentioned the Trust Fund established for Malakand, Higher Education Commission, National Commission for Human Development and Benazir Income Support Programme for the socio economic development, education and reconstruction in the militancy affected areas of Pakistan, that can be used for this purpose.

Underlining the importance of revival of Pakistan’s economy, he said the US should play leading role by providing enhanced market access to Pakistani products as well as encouraging investment in Pakistan’s diverse economic sectors at this critical juncture of history.

On successful operation against terrorists in which Pakistan armed forces, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary and Police made huge sacrifices, the Prime Minister emphasized that much needed equipment for capacity building should immediately be supplied to Pakistan in order to take the ongoing operation to its logical conclusion.

Prime Minister Gilani reaffirmed the government’s resolve to seek resolution of all the disputes with India through resumption of composite dialogue particularly the festering Kashmir dispute and water issues.

He hoped that the US and international community would play their role to bring lasting peace to South Asia.

The Prime Minister also suggested that US should take steps like release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, extension of Fulbright scholarship programme for Pakistani students beyond 2010 and special allocation of 500 scholarships for the children of martyred and injured in operations against the terrorists in order to create goodwill.

Congressmen John Tierney expressed his deep appreciation of the commitment of Pakistan government against terrorism by acknowledging the fact that these evil forces cannot be defeated without Pakistan’s proactive role.

He lauded the sacrifices of Pakistan armed forces and law enforcement agencies and condoled with their families as well as with the families of innocent citizens who laid their lives in their country’s pursuit to defeat terrorism.

John Tierney and other Congressmen assured the Prime Minister that they, through the US Congress, would fully support provision of assistance to Pakistan in education, health sectors as well as for capacity building of its armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

They appreciated the proposal for extension of Fullbright scholarship programme and provision of scholarship to the children of the effected families and promised to play a role towards this end.

They apprised the Prime Minister that US House of Representative had already passed ROZ Bill alongwith Kerry Lugar legislation and promised to move in coordination with the US Senate to provide much awaited financial support for creating employment and business opportunities in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Other members of the delegation included George Miller, Peter Welch and Ron Kind. US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson attended the meeting.

Minister for Defence Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Minister for Interior Rehman Malik, State Minister for Finance Hina Rabbani Khar, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam and other senior government officials were also present.