Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said his government was piling diplomatic pressure on the United States to halt drone strikes in the tribal areas.
“We are trying to convince the world that they (drone strikes) are against us … We need to put an end to them,” Gilani told the National Assembly. “We are against drone attacks . They are ruining our strategy (to tackle militancy). They make our job, to separate the militants from the public, difficult.”
The premier’s comments came after the opposition sought a policy statement regarding drone strikes and a lawmaker from Bajaur Agency threatened to use his influence over the tribal communities to block supplies for American troops stationed in Afghanistan.
It was the leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who asked the government to explain its position on drone strikes.
Khan also urged the premier to share with the house under which mandate ISI chief Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha visited the US to discuss security relations with the American spy chief.
Gilani, however, refused to comment on the visit and instead only condemned the drone strikes and reminded the Americans that the Afghan war could not be won without Pakistan’s support.
The prime minister also did not elaborate on the kind of diplomatic pressure Islamabad was putting on Washington to review its policy of hitting high-value targets through unmanned aircrafts.
Akhundzada Chattan, a lawmaker from Bajaur, threatened to unite the tribesmen in order to block the supplies for US-led Nato forces fighting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan if drone strikes were not immediately halted.
He also staged a walkout in protest against the latest attack that killed six in South Waziristan.
Gilani said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were bearing the brunt of the war on terror, and that the two countries had realised they would have to come up with a joint strategy to save their people from more sufferings.
“I am going to Kabul. I have been there. We (Pakistan and Afghanistan) have paid a huge price and there is a realisation that we will have to stand united against the common enemy,” he said.
Regarding the release of CIA agent Raymond Davis, the premier rejected Khan’s objections, saying it was the court’s decision and hence, must be accepted by all.
The prime minister also said that the reopening of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s ‘judicial murder’ case would help the judiciary rectify an historic wrong.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2011.
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