LONDON: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani highlighting the importance of Pakistan in the war against terror, urged the international community, especially the United States, to share information to ensure success.
In an interview with SkyTV in London, where he is on an official visit to review Pak-UK Strategic Dialogue Partnership, the Prime Minister said, “we know the importance of the United States. We really want to improve our relations. We are in the middle of discussions and I am sure that better things will come out.”
Pakistan’s relations with US have been on the slide ever since Osama bin Laden was discovered in Pakistan and subsequently killed during a unilateral raid by the US. The Prime Minister conceded that their relation has been one fraught with complications, “there have been lots of ups and downs in our relationship.”
Despite the strained ties, he described the relationship between their respective intelligence services, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as “good”, as evidenced by the results garnered. “All high-value targets of al Qaeda – have been achieved with the support and with the help of ISI, with the CIA.”
Hence, he was of the view that given past results, the US should be more trusting of its chief ally in the war on terror, vis a vis the latest exhortations from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri was hiding in Pakistan. “Therefore, when we are working together so closely, I think there should be no hesitation in sharing information with Pakistan.”
Red Cross worker ignored government warning
Commenting on the murder of Red Cross worker Khalil Dale, who was kidnapped at gunpoint in Pakistan in January and found dead last month, the Prime Minister condemned the incident and expressed his sorrow and grief with his family. Gilani, however clarified that Dale’s visa had expired and that he did not follow government’s advice of not travelling to Balochistan.
Replying to a question about popularity of Imran Khan, the Prime Minister said, Khan is “a good cricketer”, but “politics is another ball game”.
Democratic system will be strengthened after two elections
Gilani said he has always stressed that the system would be strengthened, once two elected governments complete their terms.
The Prime Minister said it was for the first time that a democratically elected government in Pakistan would present its fifth budget. He said it was also for the first time that the President addressed the Parliament.
Gilani said certain people are now part of politics, who have absolutely no role in protecting the country or democracy. He said it was Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who despite the threats to her life, remained determined to reach out to the people of Pakistan, and even lost her life for the sake of democracy.
PPP strove for democracy, strengthening judiciary
Gilani, whose Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has recently come under pressure from Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said those speaking of a long march are not even capable of a short march. Gilani said it was the Benazir Bhutto who led the march for restoration of democracy. He said it was again the PPP that strove for the freedom and strengthening of judiciary.
Brushing aside political rhetoric, Gilani said it goes to the credit of PPP, who had agreed to Sharif’s desire to become a prime minister for a record third term, making the necessary adjustments in the constitution.
He said if the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and the PPP decide to join hands in Punjab, they could easily form a government. He said the people of Pakistan have given the PPP the right to rule and it has been successfully running a government with the full support of its coalition partners.
The Prime Minister said the credit goes to his party for restoring the 1973 Constitution to its original form, as created by the founder of the party Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
He recalled a letter by Benazir Bhutto who wanted him to restore the 1973 Constitution to its original form.
Gilani said those who once had two-third majority on the occasion of golden jubilee in 1997 gave a go ahead to a law against terrorism. He said unfortunately it was Sharif who himself fell victim to the same law and was prosecuted for attempting to hijack an aircraft.