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

Tag: USPakistanIndia
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