Pak trying to secure drone technology from US: Pak PM

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 16:28

Islamabad: Demanding an end to the American
drone attacks in the restive tribal belt, Premier Yousuf Raza
Gilani has said Pakistan was trying to secure the spy plane
technology from the US and seeking enhanced intelligence-
sharing so that it can act on its own against militants.

Gilani raised the issue of drone strikes with a
visiting Congressional delegation led by Speaker of the US
House of Representatives, John Boehner, and said American
lawmakers should influence the Obama administration to agree
on a joint strategy under which drone technology could be
transferred to Pakistan.

Addressing the National Assembly or lower house of
Parliament after his meeting with Boehner on Monday, Gilani
said he had told the US delegation about growing unrest among
the public due to the missile strikes by the CIA-operated spy
planes.

"I told him that you will have to respect our political
and military efforts if you want to succeed in the war on
terror," he said.

"We are trying to secure drone technology from the US
so that after gaining information from their intelligence
reports, we can hit the militant hideouts in the tribal
region," Gilani told the National Assembly.

The war against terror is Pakistan`s own war, which it
will fight to eliminate an enemy that is posing a serious
threat to the country, he added.

Gilani said the US should pass on credible information
to Pakistan`s intelligence set-up and the country would itself
take action against terrorists on its soil.

Though Pakistan publicly opposes the US drone strikes
in its tribal belt, analysts say there is a tacit
understanding between the two countries on the attacks that
have resulted in the elimination of dozens of Taliban and al-
Qaeda leaders, including Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief
Baitullah Mehsud.

Relations between the US` CIA and Pakistan`s ISI were
strained in the wake of the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond
Davis after he gunned down two armed men in Lahore in January.

Though Davis was freed after over two million dollars
was paid as "blood money" to the families of the dead men,
ties between the two spy agencies are yet to be restored to an
even keel and this has affected the CIA`s drone campaign.

In an apparent reference to the episode involving
Davis, Gilani told Parliament that he had told Speaker Boehner
that the relationships between the two countries should not be
held hostage by a "single incident".

He also insisted that drone attacks cannot resolve the
issue of extremism and political support is needed to address
it.

Responding to the opposition`s criticism of drone
strikes, Gilani said his government would not compromise on
national interests.

"If a resolution is passed by Parliament regarding the
US Predator attacks, it would send a strong signal that the
whole nation is united against the drone attacks," he said.

During the meeting with the US Congressional
delegation, Gilani called for the timely release of American
financial aid for Pakistan`s defence and counter-insurgency
campaign so that the country`s armed forces could take their
"campaign against extremism and militancy to its logical
conclusion".

Gilani also hoped that Pakistan and US "would do more
together to be on the same page with Afghanistan" on the
war-torn country`s "reconciliation and reintegration process",
a reference to Kabul`s efforts to negotiate a settlement with
the Afghan Taliban.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 16:28

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