The government is not fond of military action and wants to have an exit strategy, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Wednesday.
The government, he said, was not taking dictation from anybody, “but it will take action when its writ is challenged [in North Waziristan]”. “We will decide if there is any need for [an operation in North Waziristan.] We will not meddle unnecessarily,” the premier said.
Speaking in a programme on the state-run Pakistan Television, Prime Minister Gilani said the government is ready to hold dialogue with militants if they disband their outfits and surrender their weapons before political agents in their respective areas
“But if the [militants] challenge the government’s writ, target innocent people and attack cities, public property, installations, police stations and railways, the government will take action against them,” he added.
According to him, the government was following a policy of dialogue, development and deterrence to bring the militants into the national mainstream.
About the level of trust deficit between Pakistan and US after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan, the prime minister said that both the countries have strategic partnership, adding, “there are ups and down in our relations”.
Highlighting the government’s determination to take action against terrorists, he said that the government would not allow anyone to use the country’s soil for acts of terrorism. Action, he said, would be taken against foreigners who “are living uninvited in the country”.
“We will free Pakistan of terrorism,” he said, adding it was not in the national interest to “have sympathy for Osama bin Laden”, who was responsible for the deaths of 36,000 Pakistani citizens, 5,000 soldiers.
Answering a question, the prime minister said that the country’s armed forces, federal and provincial governments, intelligence agencies and police “are collectively responsible for…protecting the life and property of the people”.
The government, he said, was working to chalk out a “comprehensive strategy” to pre-empt acts of terrorism and provide fool-proof security.
The Prime Minister said the Mehran Naval base incident was a matter of concern for everybody. Gilani said that a departmental inquiry into the incident was under way and a joint investigation team had also been constituted.
He said that during the meeting of the defence committee of the cabinet, the naval chief had called for the formation of an independent commission, which could be formed after necessary consultation.
Urging people to avoid targeting any particular institution or country before the completion of the investigation, he said: “We should not jump to the conclusion.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2011.