US cannot fight terrorism without Pakistan’s support: Gilani

October 2nd, 2008 - 8:18 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Oct 2 (DPA) The US cannot win its fight against terrorism without Pakistan’s support, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Thursday, a day after he condemned US aerial attacks inside the country as “acts of terrorism”.”Pakistan is a frontline ally in the fight against terrorism. It has a unique strategic position and (the) US cannot think of fight(ing) terror without it,” he told reporters in the central city of Multan.

“The USA has to respect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan as an independent country. Nobody is allowed to violate the sovereignty of Pakistan and it is the assurance given to me by President (George W.) Bush when I talked to him in Washington,” he added.

The statement came two days after a US drone (piotless) aircraft attack on a suspected militant hideout killed six people in North Waziristan, a tribal district along the Afghan border that is believed to be a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

Earlier Wednesday, Gilani told reporters: “We condemn the US attacks inside Pakistan. These are acts of terrorism.”

Relations between Islamabad and Washington, two key allies in the war on terror, have been strained because of the US’s unilateral action, which American officials defend as protecting its troops in Afghanistan. But flawed information has led to dozens of civilian casualties in these attacks, fuelling public anger in Pakistan.

“It hurts us even more when the transgressor is our friend and ally,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said during a speech at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs Wednesday.

“I can understand the US frustration. Things are going badly in Afghanistan,” he added, emphasizing that the actions against the militants could be taken only by Pakistani forces.

He warned of a backlash if the US continued with its policy of conducting attacks on Pakistani soil. “The public rightly sees some attacks as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

However, Gilani said Thursday that fighting terrorism was the first priority of the government.

The militants based in the country’s lawless tribal belt have launched dozens of suicide attacks, including one on Islamabad’s Marriott hotel, where 53 people were killed and more than 250 injured, leaving foreign governments and organisations to rank Pakistan as one of the world’s most dangerous places.

On Wednesday the British government said around 60 children - all under the age of eight - of diplomats and staff at Britain’s High Commission in Pakistan will be repatriated after a security review.

“The core work of the High Commission will not be affected. The UK is committed to maintaining its strong relationship with Pakistan, especially at this difficult time,” said the statement from the British Foreign Office.

It also advised British nationals against all non-essential travel and use of major international hotels frequented by Westerners.

On the following day, an official of the United Nations told DPA that the world organization had raised the security level for its international staff from level two to level three.

Under the reviewed security measures, approved by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the foreign staff would be allowed to keep their children only at recommended safe places if they were not ready to repatriate them.

Meanwhile, in Spain an intelligence document from August 2005 leaked to the country’s Cadena Ser radio, disclosed that Pakistan prime spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) helped the Taliban in their insurgency in Afghanistan and procured them improvised explosive device (IEDs).

Pakistan’s chief army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas rejected the report as “malicious” propaganda to malign an organ that was playing a vital role in the fight against international terrorism.

Prime Minister Gilani emphasized that fighting terrorism was the country’s first priority.

He said the government was “talking to the Islamic scholars, media persons, civil society and all those people who are opinion makers” to raise consciousness among the public why it was necessary to fight extremism.

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