Gilani asks US to adopt balanced approach in South Asia
Last Updated: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 21:51
Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday demanded the US adopt a "balanced approach" towards India and Pakistan to help improve America's image among the Pakistani people.

The US should "ensure a balanced approach in the South Asian region, particularly between Pakistan and India, without any discrimination as that will greatly help build the US image and its perception amongst the people of Pakistan", Gilani told a visiting US Congressional team.

Gilani also said Pakistanis were "disappointed" when the Obama administration dropped its reported plans to appoint former President Bill Clinton as a special envoy to help resolve the "festering Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India".

Instead, Pakistan was "clubbed with Afghanistan under the Af-Pak policy", he said.

The premier welcomed the "positive messaging" by Pakistan and the US since last week and said "these should continue and go beyond the Raymond Davis incident in order to build upon the strategic partnership as well as the trust and confidence between the two countries".

Gilani was referring to the case of US official Raymond Davis, who was arrested in Lahore last month after he shot and killed two armed men he said were trying to rob him.

Pakistan-US relations hit a new low after Islamabad refused to release Davis on grounds that he has diplomatic immunity.

"These strong ties must not be affected by any single incident and both the US and Pakistan, through their intensified and concerted efforts, should aim for taking these important bilateral relations to a higher level," he said.

Gilani called for speeding up the momentum of US aid now that several projects funded under the Kerry-Kugar-Berman Act were being implemented.

The assistance should focus on major projects that have a positive impact on the lives of the people, he said.

He reiterated his government's resolve to "remain focused on the mutually shared objectives of defeating terrorists and extremists as well as restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan".

He hoped the US side too would remain focused on these objectives and "not allow any irritant to distract from them".

The US delegation led by Senator Robert Corker acknowledged the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war on terror and agreed that positive messaging will help establish trust and confidence between the two countries.

They also said that bilateral relations should not be held hostage by any single incident.


First Published: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 21:51

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