Davos, Pakistan`s Prime Minister said on Saturday
that there was "a trust deficit" between Islamabad and
Washington as he criticised the resumption of US drone strikes
on his country`s tribal belt.
Speaking the day after over 100,000 people massed in
Karachi to protest the strikes, Yousuf Raza Gilani said they
only served to bolster militants.
"Drones are counter-productive. We have very ably isolated
militants from the local tribes. When there are drone attacks
that creates sympathy for them again," Gilani told reporters
at the Davos forum.
"It makes the job of the political leadership and the
military very difficult. We have never allowed the drone
attacks and we have always maintained that they are
unacceptable, illegal and counterproductive."
Relations between the United States and Pakistan have
deteriorated sharply over the last year, with Islamabad
furious about the surprise deadly raid on al Qaeda chief Osama
bin Laden`s hideout in Abbottabad last year.
The two sides have also been at loggerheads over a US air
strike in November in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed.
The US halted drone strikes on Pakistan soil in the
immediate aftermath of that strike but they have since
US officials say the northwestern tribal belt provides
sanctuary to Taliban fighting in Afghanistan, al Qaeda groups
plotting attacks on the West, Pakistani Taliban who routinely
bomb Pakistan and other foreign fighters.
In public, Pakistani leaders always insist they are
against drone strikes, which are deeply unpopular in the
country, but US officials insist that they privately cooperate
with the programme.
Gilani said that Pakistan now wanted to agree new rules of
engagement with the United States.
"The unilateral action taken in Abbottabad, that was not
liked in any quarter ... We need assurances that such a
unilateral action will not be repeated in the future. There is
a trust deficit."
The Prime Minister said it was in both countries`
interests to cooperate as partners and Pakistan had paid a
high price at the hands of militant groups.
"We want to work together and we are fighting against
militants and terrorists. We have paid a huge price for that."
Insurgents largely based in the tribal border lands have
carried out bomb and gun attacks killing nearly 4,800 people
across Pakistan since July 2007.
Pakistan has battled a homegrown insurgency for years,
with more than 3,000 soldiers killed in the battle against