Gilani stresses on new rules of Pak-US engagement

Published Dec 21, 2011 01:48pm

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani . —File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said Pakistan wanted new rules of engagement with the Untied States with a guarantee to respect the country's sovereignty and assurance of “no Abbottabad-like unilateral action in future.”

The prime minister said in case any credible and actionable information was available, it must be shared with Pakistan for necessary action.

He stressed that the drone attacks must be stopped, which were causing collateral damage and were grossly detrimental to the government's efforts to isolate terrorists from local population.

The prime minister was addressing the meeting of Afghan and Pakistani parliamentary delegations held under the auspicious of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) at the PM House.

Pakistan cut off Nato supplies, got Shamsi airbase vacated, and boycotted the Bonn Conference in the aftermath of the Nato attack on Pakistani Army checkpost on November 26.

He said Pakistan wanted sovereign, independent, prosperous and stable Afghanistan, which was in its interest.

“Pakistan is a part of the solution and not part of the problem,” said the prime minister.

Gilani said the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Head of the Afghan High Peace Council, was a severe setback to the peace and reconciliation efforts as he was a great supporter of friendship between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He accepted the suggestion of one of the co-chairmen of the delegation to inaugurate the Engineering University being built in Balkh, Afghanistan with the assistance of Pakistan with a cost of US$ 10 million.

Gilani said Pakistan believed that political process also needed to be underpinned by economic development and therefore was carrying out reconstruction work in Afghanistan out of the US$330 million pledged money.

He said Pakistan plans to build a new block at Mazar Sharif Hospital and a 50-bed eye hospital at Gardez.

He said Pakistan had additionally pledged construction of 50 primary schools and 50 basic health units across Afghanistan.

Initially, these primary schools will be built in Herat, Baghlan and other provinces, he added.

Gilani said Pakistan was offering 2000 fully funded scholarships to Afghan students. Around six thousand Afghan students are enrolled in Pakistani universities and colleges while about 500,000 Afghan refugee children attend government or other schools in Pakistan.

He said the new Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement had been in force since June 12 this year.

Most of the implementation related issues were sorted out during Afghan Commerce minister’s visit to Islamabad in September last, he added.

The prime minister said bilaterally, Pakistan and Afghanistan had US$2 billion trade annually and the target was to enhance it to US$45 billion by 2015.

He said regional economic integration would help both Afghanistan and Pakistan alike. He said projects like TAPI, CASA- 1000 as well as rail and road connections could change the region.

He said Pakistan still hosting about 3 million Afghan refugees and said: “We want return of Afghan refugees to their country with honour, dignity and self-respect.”

The prime minister asked the Afghan parliamentarians to express his best wishes to his brother President Hamid Karzai.

Earlier, Co-chairman of the Afghan Parliamentary delegation and member of Wolesi Jirga Abdul Latif Pedram thanked the prime minister for inviting the delegation at the PM House.

He said Pakistan was very important for Afghanistan. He also thanked the government of Pakistan for financial and technical assistance in the fields of infrastructure, education and health.

Senator Besmellah Afghanmal, member of Meshrano Jirga and co- chairman of delegation, extended the best wishes to the prime minister on behalf of President Hamid Karzai.

He recalled the statement of President Karzai that if Pakistan was attacked either by the US or India, his country would stand by Pakistan. He underlined the need of facilitating the transit trade between Karachi and Kabul.

He expressed the hope that relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan would be strengthened with the passage of time.

Apart from various projects in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan is also assisting in reconstruction in north Afghanistan.

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