Pakistan and the United States have multifaceted ties and a ‘single incident’ should not make their ‘strategic partnership’ hostage, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in a bid to downplay reported tensions between the two major war on terror allies over drone strikes.
“The US and Pakistan have political, defence and intelligence cooperation … Our strategic partnership should not be made hostage to a single incident,” Gilani told the National Assembly here on Monday.
His comments came in response to a demand by the opposition to share with the parliament the details of his recent visits to Afghanistan wherein Islamabad and Kabul agreed to upgrade cooperation to seek a political solution of the decade-old unrest there.
Gilani said Pakistan was up for a long term relations with the US and the recent visit by ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to Washington was part of the consultation process the civilian government wanted to have with America.
He, however, avoided offering any direct comments on remarks by Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who sought an explanation of the recent reports in American media suggesting that the relationship between Islamabad and Washington was strained by a series of incidents.
“There is confusion about the Pakistan-US relationship … the prime minister should take the house into confidence,” Nisar demanded, urging the government to tell the Americans that drone attacks were not acceptable. Gilani, however, did not commit himself or his administration to this task.
“Pakistan had no other intension … the only thing we want is a stable Afghanistan because that is in our best interest,” Gilani said.
Gilani said other countries which could be instrumental in peacemaking in Afghanistan would also be taken in the loop, but didn’t mention any.
Earlier, the house approved a bill aimed at making Computerised National Identity Cards mandatory to enlist an individual’s name in the electoral lists, rejecting the demand by the main opposition party to refer it to the committee for further consideration.
All other political parties left the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) alone to allow the government to take the bill through the National Assembly two weeks after it was passed by the Senate unanimously.
Members from the PML-N boycotted the proceedings to protest the passage of the bill.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2011.