Gilani says no to US demands to `do more` on terror

Last Updated: Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 23:36

Islamabad:Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
on Thursday countered US accusations linking Pakistani spy agency to
terror groups in Afghanistan, saying his country cannot be
pressured to "do more" in the war on terror, as ISI chief
warned "quick and equal response" to any unilateral attack.

"Pressure cannot be put on Pakistan to do more (in the
war on terrorism). Our national interests must be respected
under all circumstances," Gilani said while opening a meeting
of the country`s political leadership that he convened to
forge a consensus response to tensions with the US.

The premier rejected allegations by senior US officials,
including military chief Adm Mike Mullen, linking the Inter-
Services Intelligence agency to the Haqqani network and recent
terror attacks in Afghanistan, saying these accusations were a
cause of concern for Pakistan.

ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha told the meeting that
any unilateral US military action against militants in
Pakistan will be "unacceptable" and the country`s armed forces
have the capability to respond to such a strike. There was no
official word on Pasha`s briefing.

Briefing the politicians about the security situation and
challenges facing Islamabad, Pasha was quoted by the news
channels as saying that "political, diplomatic and military
channels" should be used to resolve differences between
Pakistan and the US.

Pakistan will not allow the situation to get to a "point
of no return", he was quoted as saying.

However, Pasha made it clear that any US attack within
Pakistan in the name of fighting militants will be
"unacceptable" and could trigger a "quick and equal response",
Express 24/7 channel quoted its sources as saying.

Pasha reportedly told the meeting that the ISI was not
"exporting terrorism".

On hearing this, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif questioned the
ISI chief`s remarks and asked why the world community was
accusing Pakistan of backing militants, Geo News channel
reported.

Sharif said all such issues should be taken up in
parliament, the channel added.
Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani responded to Sharif’s
remarks by saying that he would address the former premier’s
concerns, the channel reported.

The military leadership rejected US accusations that the
ISI had backed the Haqqani network in carrying out a string of
terror attacks in Afghanistan, media reports said.

At one stage, Mehmood Khan Achakzai of the Pakhtunkhwa
Milli Awami Party told Pasha that if the ISI wanted, it could
usher in peace in Afghanistan in a month, news channels
reported.

Referring to steps taken by Pakistan to back the Afghan
peace process and a sudden spurt in terror attacks in the
neighbouring country, Gilani said: "In the light of these
events in Afghanistan, the US leadership`s statements were
surprising for us as they were contrary to Pakistan`s
sacrifices and successes against terrorism and extremism."

He added: "While rejecting all these accusations, we have
focussed on positive and responsible ways to resolve these
problems."

Enhancing positive and deeper contacts at all levels
alone can pave the way for resolving these problems, he said.

Gilani said "all channels of communication are open" to
resolve differences with the US. At the same time, Pakistan
expects the cooperation of the world community, he said.
In an apparent response to US threats of unilateral
action against terror groups like the Haqqani network based in
Pakistan`s tribal belt, Gilani said the country`s political
leadership and people are fully committed to defend the
geographical borders of their motherland and its independence
and sovereignty.

"The nation is proud of its armed forces and they have
never disappointed us in matters of defending the country. We
will be united to take on these challenges," he said.

Gilani convened the meeting of the top leadership of
political and religious parties to fashion a united response
to US accusations linking the ISI to the Haqqani network as
well as growing pressure from the Obama administration to
crack down on Taliban and Al Qaeda elements in the tribal
belt.

The premier`s speech was followed by in-camera briefings
by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who returned yesterday
from a visit to the US, and the ISI chief.

The meeting was also attended by Joint Chiefs of Staff
Committee chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne.

Among the leaders who participated in the meeting are
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman,
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hasan, Awami Muslim League
leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief
Imran Khan and PML-Q head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

The parties have widely divergent stands on how to tackle
militancy and relations with the US. Islamic parties like the
Jamaat-e-Islami have called for Pakistan to pull out of the
US-led war on terror and begin talks with the Taliban.

The PML-N has called for a wide-ranging review of
Pakistan`s foreign policy, including ties with the US, while
the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which wants strong action
against militants, has called for caution in all such matters.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 09:39

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