Gilani wants civil nuclear cooperation deal with US

Last Updated: Saturday, June 6, 2009 - 17:40

Lahore, June 06: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
on Saturday said the United States should offer Pakistan a civil
nuclear cooperation deal similar to the one it finalised with
India in order to maintain "balance" in the region.

"As far as civil nuclear cooperation is concerned, the
US has given this facility to India and we think they should
give a similar facility to Pakistan to maintain the balance in
this region," Gilani said.

Pakistan has held talks with France on civil nuclear
cooperation, he said during a brief interaction with reporters
on the sidelines of an official function here.

Asked about India`s strong reaction to the release of
Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohd Saeed by a Pakistani court
and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna`s comments that
bilateral talks could not be resumed till Pakistan took
credible action against terrorism emanating from its soil,
Gilani said, "That is their point of view. As far as we are
concerned, action can be taken only when there is evidence."

However, Gilani acknowledged that there are loopholes
in Pakistan`s laws for tackling terrorism. He said the
government would consult political parties to find ways to
improve such legislation.

"We have the resolve to end terrorism and we will
examine what legislation is needed to make this more
effective," he said.

Pakistan authorities have said they would file an
appeal against the Lahore High Court`s order freeing Saeed
nearly six months after he was placed under house arrest in
the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

In reply to a question about possible Indian
involvement in fomenting unrest in Pakistan, Gilani said
intelligence agencies are probing such allegations.

"When they have evidence, we will take it up at the
appropriate level," he added.

Gilani described the US policy of conducting drone
attacks in the tribal belt as counter-productive and
criticised US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Richard Holbrooke for saying that no Pakistani leader had
raised the issue during his recent visit to the country.

Holbrooke, who yesterday ended a three-day visit to
the country, told a news conference that no Pakistani leader
had raised the issue of drone attacks.

Gilani said both he and Opposition PML-N leader Nawaz
Sharif had told Holbrooke the drone attacks are counter-
productive. The Prime Minister said both he and Sharif had
told Holbrooke that the US should instead provide drones to
Pakistan so that it could carry out such strikes on its own.

The Pakistan government and military had developed a
"sound" strategy to separate militants from the residents of
the tribal areas, he said. "But they get united whenever there
are drone strikes and this is counterproductive. It adds to
our problems," he added.

Gilani said the ongoing military operations against
the Taliban in Swat was not a conventional war and the
government wanted it to end as soon as possible so that people
displaced by the fight can return to their homes with dignity.

Over 2.5 million people have been displaced by the
fighting in Buner, Dir and Swat districts of the North West
Frontier Province. More than 1,300 militants and over 100
security personnel have died since the operations were
launched.

Bureau Report



First Published: Saturday, June 6, 2009 - 17:40
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