Pakistan to continue to fight terror: Gillani tells US

March 26th, 2008 - 10:01 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 26 (IANS) Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani Wednesday told US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte that Islamabad “would continue to fight” terror but called for a broader approach to the problem. The visiting US official met Gillani at his official residence along with Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher and discussed the issue in detail. However, there was no immediate official word from either side on the talks that continued for over an hour.

An official quoted Gillani as telling Negroponte that “Pakistan would continue to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations since it is in Pakistan’s own national interest”.

US President George W. Bush Tuesday night called Gillani to congratulate him on assuming office. During the telephonic conversation, which lasted 15 minutes, the two leaders discussed several bilateral and international issues with a focus on the war on terror, an official said.

Gillani also told the US officials that a comprehensive approach was required to deal with terrorism - combining a political approach with development programmes.

The prime minister stressed that Pakistan was “committed to maintaining long-term close ties with the US”.

The two visiting US officials Tuesday also met former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. Sharif later said that he told Negroponte that a parliamentary committee would look at President Pervez Musharraf’s policies on curbing militancy. He said the new government wanted to tackle extremism but did not want the country to become a “murder house”.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is the second largest party in the coalition government headed by Gillani, who belongs to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Bush has, meanwhile, used his authority to exempt Pakistan from a law that restricts funding countries where the legitimate head of state was deposed by a military coup, as in Pakistan, the White House said Tuesday.

Spokesman of the Foreign Office Muhammad Sadiq Wednesday said parliament had every right to reconsider or review Pakistan’s foreign policy as well as its stance on the war on terror.

Asked why the US officials had rushed to Pakistan the day the new government was formed, he said: “Their (US officials) visit was prescheduled for March to allow the transition of power to be completed in the country.”

He said Negroponte and his team have primarily discussed three issues in their meetings with Pakistani officials - resumption of the composite dialogue with India, future and development of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), and bilateral strategic relations and cooperation in the ongoing war against terror and in the bordering region with Afghanistan.

He said the development of ROZs was not linked with the free movement of US officials in the region.

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