Gilani asks US to adopt balanced approach in South Asia

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani demanded the US adopt a "balanced approach" towards India and Pakistan to help improve America`s image among the Pakistani people.

Updated: Feb 19, 2011, 21:51 PM IST

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

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

"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.