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US should ask India to lessen tensions: Pak

Last Updated: Friday, November 13, 2009 - 21:07

Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday made it clear
that it could focus on American demands to do more in the war
against terror only if the US used its influence with India to
lessen tensions and to press for the resumption of the stalled
composite dialogue process.

This was conveyed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
to visiting US National Security Advisor James Jones during a
meeting here this afternoon.

The two leaders held wide-ranging discussions on the
regional security situation and bilateral cooperation.

Gilani said Pakistan is fully committed to take its
operations aimed at clearing its territory of terrorists and
extremists to their logical conclusion but "its forces were
over-stretched because of continuous tension on the eastern
border" with India.

"It was imperative that the US should be sensitive
about Pakistan`s core interests, ie Kashmir, the water issue,
Indian military capability and the requirements of balance of
power in South Asia," Gilani was quoted as saying in a
statement issued by his office.

"The US, hence, has to use its influence with India
for resumption of the composite dialogue and lessening of
tension with Pakistan to enable Pakistan to concentrate its
attention and energies in the fight against militancy and
terrorism," he said.

Jones reportedly assured Gilani that the US
administration "fully recognised Pakistan`s concerns about the
long-term peace and security of South Asia and would keep
urging the Indian leadership to return to the composite
dialogue process".

Gilani welcomed the US initiative of taking Pakistan
into confidence and seeking its inputs for the ongoing review
of Washington`s Afghanistan policy.

He told Jones that Pakistan`s concerns about the
effects of a surge in US forces in Afghanistan, particularly
in the border province of Helmand, and the possibility of
Afghan Taliban crossing over into Pakistan must be factored
into the new policy.

He also called for regular consultations and
coordination between Pakistan and the US on the deployment of
American forces in Afghanistan, strengthening of border
coordination centres, fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan
border and stemming the supply of weapons and drugs from
Afghanistan.

Gilani said US reimbursements of Pakistan`s expenses
on the war on terror had been "inordinately delayed" and "must
be settled forthwith" to strengthen Pakistan`s operations
against militants.

He also said the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue should
be scheduled in the "immediate future".

The premier also sought US assistance to refurbish
roads linking Karachi to Peshawar and Quetta as they had been
damaged by heavy container traffic carrying supplies for US
forces in Afghanistan.

Jones was quoted as saying that he had been sent to
Islamabad by US President Barack Obama to assure Pakistan`s
leadership of "his sincere intention to pursue a long-term
strategic partnership based on mutuality of interests and
mutual respect".

The US considers Pakistan as its "most strategic ally"
and wants "to proceed on a new way forward through
consultations and coordination on every important bilateral
issue", particularly those related to counter-terrorism and
counter-insurgency, he said.

Jones also met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi
and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, November 13, 2009 - 21:07

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