Drone attacks are counter productive, says Zardari
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s president Thursday while terming the US drone attacks as “counterproductive” said these were damaging popularity of both the governments and stressed the need to find a way out.
Speaking to a delegation of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by its Chairman Senator Robert Menendez at the presidency in Islamabad, President Asif Ali Zardari also voiced concern over continued militant attacks on Pakistani troops from the Afghani side of the border.
Two separate rounds of talks were held between the sides including a delegation-level meeting and another one in which the president was assisted by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. Senator Menendez was assisted by US Ambassador to Islamabad Richard Olson.
Spokesperson to the president Senator Farhatullah Babar, briefing media representatives after the meetings, said during the talks the president stressed the need for ISAF and Afghan security forces in border areas on the Afghan side to provide, “an anvil to Pakistan’s hammer operations.”
A host of issues ranging from bilateral relations to the fight against militancy and the regional situation were discussed during the meeting.
The president pointed to the sacrifices Pakistan had made in the fight against militancy and said there was a need for acknowledging and appreciating these sacrifices and added that blame-game will not serve the common purpose of defeating the militants.
He said terrorism was a global issue and there was a call for global and international efforts to eradicate it.
President Zardari said Pakistan’s armed forces were doing a heroic job despite the odds, but pointed that these were stretched as they were in the tribal areas and needed to be assisted with resources for long-term and sustained counter terrorism operations.
He said bilateral ties between Pakistan and the US were multifaceted and it would not be proper to see these through one prism only, be that Afghanistan or any other.
The president said Pakistan valued its multifaceted relationship with the US and stressed the need to build on the current momentum in their relations.
While expressing satisfaction on meeting of the working groups of the two countries on Counter Terrorism and Law Enforcement, Energy, Economy and Finance, Defence, and Security, Strategic Stability and Non-proliferation, President Zardari said that the gains made in these meetings need to be further consolidated and built upon.
He also stressed upon the need for early convening of the meeting of working group on water.
The spokesperson said the president specially focused on trade and commerce ties between the two countries. Reiterating that Pakistan looked forward to increased trade through market access instead of aid, President Zardari said Pakistan also wanted increased US investment in Pakistan in energy, agro and livestock sectors.
About country’s water and energy needs, he said Pakistan had started work on the Diamer Basha dam project and called for US and international assistance in the completion of Pakistan’s energy projects to meet its growing power needs.
“The Basha dam held the promise of signature American investment in Pakistan and a visible and long-term legacy of Pakistan-US bilateral cooperation,” the Spokesperson quoted the president as saying.
The president informed the US delegation that Pakistan has formulated a comprehensive Counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) strategy. He sought the help of international partners for additional resources including training, equipment and finances and provision of necessary assets to help Pakistan implement the Counter-IED strategy.
He said the Fair Trial Act would help in speedy and successful prosecution and conviction of terror culprits including those handling and transporting IEDs.
President Zardari also reiterated Pakistan’s support to Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process in Afghanistan and expressed support to the transition of security responsibilities from Nato to Afghan government by 2014 and termed the trilateral Summits between Pakistan, UK and Afghanistan as significant in the reconciliation process.
Referring to Pakistan-India relations, the president said Pakistan had liberalised trade with India and wished to establish friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations with it and desires peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes.
Robert Menendez appreciated the role played by Pakistan and the sacrifices offered by its armed forces, security agencies and the people in the fight against militancy.