Barack Obama asks Nawaz Sharif why 26/11 trial has not started yet
Zee Media Bureau
Washington: Hoping to smoothen the frayed ties between the two nations, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is on a visit to the US, met President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon and discussed a slew of topics ranging from drone strikes, Kashmir, Afghanistan with the US President also mentioning Mumbai attacks trial and Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
Bringing up the issue of Mumbai attacks, Obama asked the Pakistani PM about the progress made in 26/11 attacks trial and also made mentions of the banned terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Sharif told reporters after the meeting.
"He (Obama) asked, why the trial of the (Mumbai) terrorist attack in India has not started yet," Sharif told reporters immediately after his over two-hour meeting with Obama at the Oval Office of the White House.
Sharif added that the US President also brought up the issue of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), cross border terrorism and Dr Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and has been imprisoned, Sharif said.
The US had proposed a USD 10 million bounty on the head of Hafiz Saeed, head of JuD, who is said to have masterminded the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
"He (Obama) has raised the issue of (Dr Shakil) Afridi. He spoke about cross-border movement. He also talked about Jamaat-ud-Dawa," the Pakistan Prime Minister said, without giving details.
With drone attacks being one of the top obstacles between the US-Pak ties, the Pakistani PM said he urged the US to end such attacks.
"I brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasising the need for an end to such strikes", he said.
But the Pakistan`s appeal on drone attacks did not appear to influence US as the joint statement after Sharif-Obama meeting, made no mention of any US promise on curbing or ending the drone attacks.
However Obama did pledge to work on "ways that respect Pakistan`s sovereignty".
Admitting that there were "misunderstandings" between the two countries,Obama pledged to work together against terrorism and extremism.
"We are committed to working together and making sure that rather than this being a source of tension between our two countries,it can be a source of strength."
"It`s a challenge. It`s not easy," he said.
Nawaz Sharif is also said to have raised the issue of Kashmir during the one and half hour meeting with the US President, but again Obama did not make any direct comments on the issue.
However, he applauded Sharif for "taking a very wise path in exploring how decades of tension between India and Pakistan can be reduced".
"Billions of dollars have been spent on an arms race in response to these tensions, and those resources could be much more profitably invested in education, social welfare programmes on both sides of the border," he said. "
In a joint statement issued after the meeting, Obama welcomed recent engagements between Sharif and Singh and expressed hope that this would mark the beginning of a sustained dialogue process between the two neighbours, aimed at building lasting peace in South Asia and resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes through peaceful means.
Obama said the two leaders had an opportunity to discuss India after the meeting of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
This is the first meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Barack Obama after the former was crowned as the Pakistani PM in May this year.
The recent trip of Pakistani PM to the US might iron out some kinks in the US-Pak ties that have developed over the last two years which have been tense.
The ties between the two nations hit a rough patch especially after the US carried out a unilateral raid in Abbottabad to target Osama bin Laden.
The ties got hackneyed further after a US raid on Salala checkpost killed 24 Pakistani troops, which prompted Islamabad to block NATO supply routes.
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