Pak seeks US assistance in nuclear, drone technology

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 00:16

Islamabad: Pakistan`s top leadership on Tuesday sought American assistance in the civilian nuclear field and the transfer of drone technology, saying such steps would help address misperceptions about the US and bridge the trust deficit between the two sides.
During a meeting with visiting National Intelligence
Director Dennis C Blair, President Asif Ali Zardari called on
the US to provide assistance in civil nuclear technology to
help Pakistan overcome its energy crisis and bridge the trust
deficit between the two countries.

Zardari also sought the "early transfer of drone
technology to Pakistan" so that the country`s security forces
could use unmanned spy planes to target militants.

Such operations by Pakistani troops would have "wider
public acceptability" than the drone strikes carried out by
the US, he said.

"US drone attacks on our soils not only infringe upon
Pakistan`s sovereignty but also undermine the national
consensus (for) the war on militancy," Zardari said.

The President also stressed on the need for "working
on a counter-terrorism strategy within the agreed parameters
and creating an effective intelligence-sharing mechanism
between the two countries".

He asked the US to strengthen and enhance Pakistan`s
counter-terrorism capabilities through "timely assistance and
necessary tools and equipment".

During a separate meeting with Blair, Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani said the success of the forthcoming
Pakistan-US strategic dialogue "would be greatly beneficial
for bridging the trust deficit and addressing the
misperceptions about Pakistan-US relations".

Gilani also underscored the need for "concrete and
visible signs of implementation" of commitments in identified

The Pakistani leaders raised several other issues with
Blair, including the need to review the new US screening
regime for Pakistani travellers, the need to expedite US
legislation to set up Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in the
tribal belt, increased market access for Pakistani exporters,
the granting of a special dispensation for Pakistani textile
products and the honouring of pledges made by the world
community last year to accelerate the pace of rebuilding and
development of militancy-hit areas.

Zardari said Pakistan had suffered losses of over USD
35 billion during the past eight years due to the fight
against militancy.

Referring to the regional situation, he said Pakistan
"has legitimate interests in promoting peace and stability in
Afghanistan and welcomes international assistance for this".

On the other hand, Gilani said the US and the world
community should forward to help Pakistan in the immediate
development of areas cleared of militants.

This is "crucial to retain the national consensus and
public support in sustaining the campaign against terror", he

Gilani said the peace and stability of Afghanistan
"was intrinsically linked to peace in Pakistan and hence his
government would fully support the Afghan government`s
strategy for reconciliation".

However, greater coordination in these efforts is a
pre-requisite for the success of the strategy, he said.
Gilani also said Pakistan would like to have better
relations with India by "addressing the core issues between
the two countries in the interest of bringing the war against
terror to its logical conclusion".

Blair appreciated Pakistan`s struggle against
militancy and reiterated the US administration`s commitment to
work closely with the country in this regard.

He expressed satisfaction at the cooperation and
coordination between the two countries in intelligence-sharing
through which Pakistan and the allied forces "had gained
remarkable successes in the recent past".

He said both sides should adopt a "realistic approach"
in the strategic dialogue to achieve desired results as the
last three rounds of the parleys "had not helped much in
addressing crucial issues and it was time that both sides
proceeded with the dialogue (while) aiming at achieving
concrete results".


First Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 00:16

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