A day after the foreign ministry reacted sharply to US allegations on Pakistan nurturing the Haqqani network, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said it was time the United States “does more” in the war on terror.
“Pakistan has already contributed enormously in the fight against terrorism and extremism and now the United States should do more instead,” Gilani told journalists in Islamabad on Friday. “Now it’s time they (US) should sacrifice like we did,” the premier said.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had said that Pakistan is shying away from its responsibility to eliminate the Haqqani network.
Panetta’s allegations came after an improvised attack by the Taliban inside a highly-fortified enclave in Kabul which houses the US embassy and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Panetta, who was head of the Central Intelligence Agency before becoming defence secretary, immediately blamed the attack on the Haqqani network, a group of Afghan Taliban allegedly based in North Waziristan tribal region.
Officials said the renewed blame game between two allies was one of the reasons behind Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani cancelling his trip to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. However, the prime minister and his media team dispelled the impression.
Sources at the Pakistan embassy in Washington said that the only scheduled meeting of the prime minister with any high US officials was a “call on” with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In diplomatic terms, a call on is just a courtesy call.
“Yes, this was one of the reasons (for cancellation). We were already keeping the prime minister’s stay here as a multilateral visit and not a bilateral visit,” the official said and explained that in a multilateral visit there is no specific agenda on the table in case leaders meet.
Gilani himself said he cancelled the visit because he wanted to supervise the relief efforts in the flood-hit areas of Sindh.
“The president is abroad, the speaker of the National Assembly is also out of the country and now, if the prime minister had gone it would have given the opposition a fair opportunity to bash the government,” an official of the prime minister secretariat said.
President Asif Ali Zardari is in London where he had gone for a medical check-up, but extended his stay in the UK.
His spokesperson said the president had reached Dubai and will probably be back on Sunday.
“His medical appointment had been made several weeks in advance,” Farhatullah Babar said.
In place of Gilani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will represent Pakistan at the UN General Assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2011.
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