Gilani seeks more US aid for Pakistan

May 29th, 2008 - 9:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

New York, May 29 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani has urged the US to increase economic and defence aid to help strengthen his country’s newly elected democratic government. Gillani told the Wall Street Journal that he made his case for further aid during a recent meeting in Egypt with President George W. Bush. However, he did not specify how much more in assistance he asked for.

Gillani said further aid was needed to help provide political and economic stability as the nation seeks to fight terrorism after getting a democratically elected government.

Pakistan has received more than $11 billion from the US, most of which has gone to the military, since the country joined the US-led fight against terrorism following the World Trade Centre attacks.

Gillani, installed as premier by a fractious coalition of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), also said he was willing to work with President Pervez Musharraf. But he would let his party, PPP, decide whether to try to force Musharraf from office.

The prime minister said the use of military might alone to drive out militancy from Pakistan’s tribal areas would never work. “We need to review our strategy to deal with the situation in the region,” he said.

Western intelligence agencies insist that Pakistan’s tribal region has become a major operating centre for the Al Qaeda and a launching pad for assaults on the NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.

The new government in Pakistan has been reportedly negotiating with militants and exchanging prisoners. But Gillani said it is talking only to the tribesmen who renounce violence and surrender their weapons. US and NATO officials have argued that the peace deals have allowed militants time to regroup.

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