Shamsi Airbase: Zardari turns down UAE request to review decision

Published: November 28, 2011

UAE's foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zeyed Al-Nahyan called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and interior minister Rehman Malik were present in the meeting.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, it seems, is not yet ready to let go and is still seething over the pre-dawn Nato air raid that killed 24 of its soldiers on Saturday.

President Asif Ali Zardari has turned down a request by the United Arab Emirates to review Pakistan’s decision to ask the US to vacate the remote Shamsi Airbase in Balochistan, which is said to be under UAE control.

The Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zaid al Nahyan, who arrived in Islamabad on Monday night, made the request in a meeting with the president and asked that Pakistan allow the US to use the base until investigation into the incident is complete.

Zardari told al Nahyan that the decision had been made by the defence committee of the cabinet, which met hours after the attack and decided that the US must vacate the airbase within 15 days, and must be followed as the nation felt strongly about the issue.

The controversial airbase, located about 300 kilometres from Quetta, has been used as a key launch pad for drone strikes in Afghanistan and allegedly also for those carried out in Pakistan’s own tribal areas. This is the third time Pakistan has demanded the US to vacate the base. Similar demands were made after CIA operative Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis in Lahore and in the aftermath of the unilateral US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

New anti-terror cooperation

In the wake of Saturday’s raid, Pakistan is pushing for a new anti-terror cooperation agreement with the US, The Express Tribune has learnt.

A list of demands that Islamabad is preparing includes a written accord with the US to provide explicit guarantees that such attacks will not recur and halt the CIA-led drone campaign in the country’s tribal belt, officials said requesting anonymity.

The existing cooperation is based on ‘unwritten agreements and understanding’ reached between Islamabad and Washington during former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s regime and past efforts by Pakistan to renegotiate terms of engagement with the US have been unsuccessful.

Islamabad made a similar demand earlier this year when its relations were severely strained with Washington over the arrest of Raymond Davis. However, the authorities are now adamant that normal cooperation with the US can only go back on track if Pakistan’s concerns are addressed.

The demands, if not accepted, may compel Pakistan to not only withdraw its support to the war on terror but also pull out troops along the border with Afghanistan, said a security official. “This message has already been conveyed to the US,” he said.

However, another official said it was premature to contemplate such an ‘extreme step’ at this stage, though the option was very much on the table and might be used as a last resort.

Chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the Nato attack certainly has dire implications. “It is very difficult for us now to extend the kind of support that was there before this attack,” Gen Abbas said. However, he stopped short of saying if Pakistan will pull out its troops along the border with Afghanistan. “All such decisions will be taken by Parliament,” he said.

Top military commanders are expected to meet soon to discuss the fallout of the Nato strike and options to deal with the crisis. The corps commanders meeting to be chaired by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will evolve a strategy not only on the incursions but also on pacifying ‘growing anger in the rank and file’ of the military.

Top military leadership is concerned about the ‘negative impact’ this incident has had on troops manning the rugged terrain on the Afghan border. “It is indeed a challenge for the military leadership to pacify that anger. How can we convince them (troops) that the Americans are our allies?” asked a senior military official.

(Read: After the Nato attack)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2011.

Reader Comments (59)

  • Reason11
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:08PM

    Quite obviously, honorable foreign minister of UAE doesn’t believe in reading newspapers. He wouldn’t have come in with such a request otherwise. Amazing that someone can still expect Pakistan to be flexible on this issue!Recommend

  • No Spin Facts
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:20PM

    We must stand firm on the DCC decision. Any backtracking will only denigrate the government and military’s falling reputation. don’t flip flop! NATO countries would never tolerate a similar incident and loss of lives on their respective territories. We must let them know that Pakistani lives are equally valuable.

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:21PM

    If Zardari did what ET says, then I think he has realized that he would be rejecting the nation’s sentiments on Shamsi. The base needs to come back into Pakistan’s custody and not be given back to UAE because they have already violated Pakistan’s interest. UAE’s delegation thoughts represent that of the Ummah in general. i.e., stab their own kind.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:26PM

    If the Shamshi Airbase will not be vacated by the US and UAE, there will be a political tsunami which will oust the whole cabinet including the President and the Prime Minister.

    This is a matter of Pakistan and no compromise will be made on Shamshi Airbase. Now it is up to US and UAE to discuss the matter with each other and settle the issue. The Government of Pakistan gave the Shamshi Airbase to UAE on lease and the Government of UAE has deviated the terms of lease agreement which is in violation of the Pakisatni law.

    The consequence is that the lease agreement between the Government of Pakistan and Government of UAE is subject to termination without further notice.

    Now it is up to UAE to think whether it would like to remain Pakistan’s friend or foe?

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  • Rai asif kharal
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:26PM

    Is nt amazing ? Instead of condemning nato raid and showing soldarity with its brotherly country,the Uae sheikhs have come here to plead for the Americans.Soon we wuld be getting phone calls from the saudians.qataris and kuwaitis.Would we ever have an independent foreign policy ???.

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  • Raheel
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:35PM

    How dare UAE come here and ask for to forgv and forget everything ,,, they mite have sold their soul to westerns bt not us ….they are adding to the problem speacially these
    Princeses ,,,, they call them self
    Muslims Recommend

  • Sanya
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:01AM

    Its all messed up! Why is everyone playing a game with our country, even the insiders!? I know for a fact that Zardari’s rejection will soon turn into an acceptance, the moment our sentiments cool down.
    There have been plenty of other incidents where we have lost our young soldiers, but why a verbal reaction at this point in time! I feel our politicians are acting out their definitions of blood sucking termites. I see it all as an integrated plan to win our hearts and eventually the upcoming elections! But we need to assure it to them, that enough is enough !! A Mere Rejection will not work! Please For God’s sake, stand up. Stop being a slave!

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  • Mirza
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:22AM

    Do I read it right. The base that was given to UAE/USA by the army general Mush would be taken away by the PPP govt? And yet the generals are great and the elected govt is bad?

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  • san
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:26AM

    The root cause of all problems are Arabs not innocent Pakistani or Afghani.

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:27AM

    Give it few days and we will see as to what happens at Shamsi !!! We have seen this charade before too many times !
    Pakistan have over 1.2 million migrant workers in UAE, they really can not afford to upset them either!!!

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  • Loyal
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:37AM

    These Arabs Shaikhs(puppets of the West) should mind their own business and not interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

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  • Nov 29, 2011 - 12:43AM

    long live zardari……… well done

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  • k. Salim Jahangir
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:44AM

    Wait…..tomorrow Zardari will agree.

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  • LongLive Pakistan
    Nov 29, 2011 - 12:56AM

    Really?? UAE are you that dumb enough?? Arabs are all sold out but yet i’d like to see the Yemen force to hit UAE army and kill as much of their soldiers and then we can advise them the same to show some patience. Stupid people, won’t even think first of what they’re saying, would just keep on repeating what their white masters told them. Pathetic UAE, shame on you, and you still call yourself a Muslim and that too having the ideology that you arabs are better than the rest of the muslim world…
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  • MJK
    Nov 29, 2011 - 1:06AM

    “Zardari” rejects? right!! Does he even know what has happened and why the threat of shutting down the base?

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  • Nov 29, 2011 - 1:08AM

    Wow, kind of impressed they turned down the ‘Sheikhs’. (though, don’t necessarily agree with the reactionary decision on closing down the base – stopping the drones would be welcomed – as long as the Pak forces can make up for it by conducting more ground operations by their own initiatives to stop terrorists, which sadly I doubt)

    Think the Saudis and Emiratis (yes, I’m aware it’s UAE only, but on foreign policy they are ironically virtually the same) are going to hate Zardari even more on top of his sectarian background.

    Wonder if we can also say no to their illegal hunting of our endangered animals that the government always seems to accommodate them for the sake of procuring petro-dollars.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 29, 2011 - 1:56AM

    One can understand all the chest thumping of Ghairat Brigade against all the aid donor countries including the US and UAE. However, Saudia Arabia, Turkey (a NATO member) and others are all going to side not with Pakistan but the USA. First we have to break the begging bowl before all the Ghairat talk. USA has laws and would never do that but shikhdoms like UAE and Kuwait can put restriction on Pakistanis working there. We have to be cautious in our rebuke to such countries as they are not dependent upon Pakistan but we are! We have to be realistic before these tiny rich shikhdoms throw millions of Pakistanis out. We cannot even have cricket matches in Pakistan and use UAE as home. Please don’t kill the messanger, as the livelihood of millions of families depend upon these petty sheiks.

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:04AM

    Shame on those who are condemning UAE and Arab friends. There is a saying that beggers are not choosers, its also true that beggers are not good friends. If UAE has asked us some favour, we can say No in a friendly manner. There is no point in disrespecting a friend. Its our fault guys. Thousands of our soldiers have been killed and we did not shed a tear nor said any word against their killers. UAE has seen this incident in that perspective. They must be surprised that why we are making so much noise now. 24 is a very small figure comapred to five thousand.

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  • Omar
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:20AM

    The US is trying to resolve this matter by getting other countries to exert some sort of pressure/calling in favors, notably the UAE and Australian higher ups meeting with Pakistani higher ups today. I foresee many other countries trying to do the US bidding this week.

    Hopefully our leaders won’t change their stance. About time we told them its about time they stopped taking us for granted.

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  • Anit Truth
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:20AM

    @Sanya:
    you are right If imran khan were there in Govt. it will remain a rejection for next 100000000000 years.
    He is the leader. We should request Army establishment please bring him to power soon.

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  • asghar qambrani
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:22AM

    so sheikh wants pakistan to handover base to US so that it may keep killing innocent civilans and soldiers in future. It would have been better if sheikh had asked US to stop killing innocents civilians.

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  • Salman
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:32AM

    UAE pay u for that base so they have right to demand things however anti US sentiments are sky rocketing so sheikhs have to wait for some time

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  • Zohaib
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:51AM

    Why people saying ‘long live’ to this leader. So what if he denied the request, he was SUPPOSED to deny the request from day 1. Recommend

  • sfaf
    Nov 29, 2011 - 3:32AM

    If the leading UAE dignitary hadn’t worn nike sandals to this meeting, he might have got away with his request LOL just on the lighter note :)

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  • Chulbul Pandey
    Nov 29, 2011 - 4:12AM

    Amazing to see the anger towards UAE in comments above. If I am not mistaken, UAE has always helped Pakistan in the hour of need and even lets Pakistan’s Cricket team use it’s grounds. All UAE asked was to let USA use the bases until the probe is complete. Is that too much to ask for?
    Being angry is one thing but being insulting and disrespectful to a friend is getting a bit too carried away!

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  • gp65
    Nov 29, 2011 - 5:24AM

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: “If the Shamshi Airbase will not be vacated by the US and UAE, there will be a political tsunami which will oust the whole cabinet including the President and the Prime Minister.”

    Excuse me. It was not the politicians that had leased the airbase to UAE, it was the army chief Musharraf. On earlier occasions when parliament had asked US to vacate Shamsi airbase US was still allowed to remain there. The politicians have no say in foreign policy. It is controlled 100% by Kayani. If anyone should be held to account it should be Kayani not Zardari.

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  • Amjad
    Nov 29, 2011 - 6:06AM

    @Mirza: Musharraf is hardly a tenth of the general that Kayani is. Musharraf was only interested in using the army to take over a civilian government and rule as a dictator. Kayani is however a professional who has restored pride to the institution of the military by staying out of politics officially. I agree with you that even a lacklustre PPP government has done better for the nation than the dictatorship of Musharraf which lead to all the problems we now have. Musharraf gave away Pakistan’s defense and sovereignty to support his illegal rule.

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  • Babloo
    Nov 29, 2011 - 7:49AM

    Useless drama by Pakistan. USA, should pay no heed. Just stop all military and economic aid, direct and indirectRecommend

  • HoneyBee
    Nov 29, 2011 - 7:58AM

    please AZ & AQ take firm stand & don’t betrayed the nation this time. . .!!!

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  • Bilal
    Nov 29, 2011 - 8:23AM

    There is a time and place for requests by friends and this is not it.

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  • sajid
    Nov 29, 2011 - 8:37AM

    So much for anyone who thought these Arabs were our friends.

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  • HoneyBee
    Nov 29, 2011 - 8:38AM

    @Chulbul Pandey:
    so one day if UAE ask to handover country to USA …. Do u agree . . .???

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  • ali
    Nov 29, 2011 - 8:42AM

    A new case must be filed against Musharraf, USA and all those in the Pakistani govt who were aware of drones on Pakistani soil and killing Pakistanis. There will be strong case for extra judicial killings.

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  • Shafaq Mustafa
    Nov 29, 2011 - 9:21AM

    Must say it is the only good decision by Zardari.

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  • Truth-seekerr
    Nov 29, 2011 - 9:37AM

    @hedgefunder:
    You are too much worried about expat pakistanis working in UAE, don’t worry about them, UAE is our brother and they also feel the same pain as we.

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  • Maria
    Nov 29, 2011 - 9:53AM

    @Babloo: Don’t worry about the drama in Pakistani politics. You have enough drama in your Indian politics. And yes most Pakistanis want to stop all US aid if it means regaining our independence and sovereignty. Did you forget that Pakistan learned to manufacture nuclear weapons when India detonated a nuclear device and started the arms race in South Asia? Did you forget that when Pakistan tested her own device in response to Indian provocation, the West slapped sanctions on Pakistan and instead we learned to make our own weapons including airplanes and tanks. So yes, go and cry to the West that they should stop all aid to Pakistan. We would welcome it.

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  • RizwanTKhan
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:00AM

    So called UAE friends are actually our enemies for requesting to reverse the decision.

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  • Chulbul Pandey
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:03AM

    @HoneyBee: so one day if UAE ask to handover country to USA …. Do u agree . . .???

    HoneyBee ji, Are you suggesting that your friend(s) are unreliable? Don’t you think your reaction is a little over dramatic?

    You are allowed to disagree with friends/others in a very respectful manner. But here you are… calling names to the very country and its people that have stood by you over time.

    No wonder you guys find yourselves isolated in the whole world!

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  • Chulbul Pandey
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:05AM

    @ali:
    Ali Mian, Bravo for justifying extra judicial killing! Two wrongs don’t make it right!

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  • MarkH
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:55AM

    “The demands, if not accepted, may compel Pakistan to not only withdraw its support to the war on terror but also pull out troops along the border with Afghanistan, said a security official.”
    Who in their right mind made the man who stated that any form of authority on such a thing? You were attacked, so in retaliation you’re going to make sure it’s even easier to be attacked by even non-NATO groups in the future. The only way that makes sense is if they really have been supporting militant attacks on Afghanistan and there never was a militant threat they were guarding against in the first place.

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  • Shahzad S. Janjua
    Nov 29, 2011 - 11:56AM

    It’s not that black and white as it sound, let suppose because of this, UAE said that take back your national to your country or put strict sanctions on them.

    Tell me will all of you will give the same comments or have sentiments.

    It’s a very tricky situation, and should be taken tactfully, rather than with emotions.

    Things are not that straight as it sounds!!!

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 29, 2011 - 1:28PM

    @Truth-seekerr:
    You are too much worried about expat pakistanis working in UAE, don’t worry about them, UAE is our brother and they also feel the same pain as we.

    No i am not worried about them i am more worried about their families as without their earnings, the families will face hardships as its obvious that Pakistan can not provide them with any employment !!!
    UAE is not your brother, either and they will take this rebuke from Pakistan very seriously, wait for time when Pakistan will ask for favour and see what happens !!
    Pakistan is simply not in position to act strong !!
    Give it few days and see your Govt & Army cave in to foreign pressure !!!!
    This is the price one pays, when you survive on others handouts and largesse !

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  • Murad
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:28PM

    WELL DONE ZARDARI

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  • Ali
    Nov 29, 2011 - 2:56PM

    KSA = USA
    UAE = USA
    UN = USA
    IMF = USA

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 29, 2011 - 4:05PM

    @Ali:
    Yes its all very sad !! All roads lead to Uncle Sam !! And your lot here thinks that you can take them on???
    Its called living in fool’s paradise !!!!

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  • stranger
    Nov 29, 2011 - 8:05PM

    @Ch Allah Daad:
    how would you feel if the person died was your father and he was the only one supporting the family?? think before you write something, foreigners read these comments too.. Recommend

  • hedgefunder
    Nov 29, 2011 - 8:45PM

    @Maria:
    Did you forget that Pakistan learned to manufacture nuclear weapons when India detonated a nuclear device and started the arms race in South Asia? Did you forget that when Pakistan tested her own device in response to Indian provocation, the West slapped sanctions on Pakistan and instead we learned to make our own weapons including airplanes and tanks. So yes, go and cry to the West that they should stop all aid to Pakistan. We would welcome it.

    Have you ever considered the actual cost to the Nation, of the divine Bomb ??
    Which weapons airplanes and tanks, do Pakistan actually make????
    No one will have to tell west to stop Aid as they have already decided as to their future course of action !!!!!
    You need to do some home work as to your manufacturing abilities !!!!

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:22PM

    Pakistan zindabad. I’m loving my new-found love for Pakistan. Are you guys with me or what?

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  • Fawad_Texan
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:57PM

    Pak Army needs to play at Front Foot now. Politicians can’t do anything as they play backfoot all the time and failed everytime to provide security to Pak army.

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  • Adam
    Nov 30, 2011 - 1:36AM

    Nothing will change… It’s just a joke lol..All are Sold out… Even the UAE .. So just sit back and EnjoyRecommend

  • Mirza
    Nov 30, 2011 - 2:01AM

    @Fawad_Texan:
    Yes the army should provide the same security to the country as they provided OBL in their base. Same security while surrendering in East Pakistan, Kargil, to Mehran Base, and the same security as to their headquarter! Excepting killing their own civilians what are the successes of our army? The surrender in East Pakistan, elected politicians were responsible, Kargil elected govt was responsible, OBL in army base elected govt’s fault, latest attack for two hours no action all elected govt’s fault. Time and again it is proved that the Americans can be anywhere in Pakistan for two hours or more before any action by the armed forces. The civilians who finance these paid servants must be reponsible. I guess with these facts I have made my point.
    Regards,
    Mirza

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  • Mirza
    Nov 30, 2011 - 2:19AM

    Down with UAE and to hell with the “Arab pseudo-ummah”. Long live China and Turkey!

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  • ayesha
    Nov 30, 2011 - 9:37AM

    what an insult to every Pakistany.

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  • rehmat
    Nov 30, 2011 - 9:57PM

    @Fawad_Texan: “Pak Army needs to play at Front Foot now. Politicians can’t do anything as they play backfoot all the time and failed everytime to provide security to Pak army”.

    You got it backwards buddy. IT is not the politicians’ job to protect the army. It is the army’s job to protect the borders and it has consistently failed to do so.

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  • Mohammad Naeem
    Nov 30, 2011 - 10:52PM

    should we unfriend all countries or just the ONE to avoid isolation!??

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  • Dallas Ali
    Dec 1, 2011 - 10:54AM

    Most Pakistani are off their rocker! The country lacks resource, education, corrupt up to their eye brows. I hope they look in their backyard and see what the reality it; instead of making a mockery of their country.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Dec 1, 2011 - 2:21PM

    @Dallas Ali:
    It is not Pakistan’s fault !!! It is everyone else’s fault for all the problems facing Pakistan !!!
    It is their divine right to be fed by all the other nations and to be provided funds too, as they have the BOMB !!!!

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  • Dallas Ali
    Dec 1, 2011 - 9:54PM

    @Hedgefunder:

    Pakistani’s are in LaLa Land. They think the world owes it to them. They better earn it as world will not serve them everything on a platter.

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  • Aamir Tauqeer
    Dec 12, 2011 - 3:38PM

    Coming here in Pakistan and putting such request shows that UAE is also sold and they are being dictated by US.

    We believe that US should be forcefully pulled out if they are not going in normal manner.

    Tauqeer

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