LAHORE In the first admission that the government of Pakistan has not been telling the Americans in clear words to call off drones, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said that they (the US officials) have been told in implicit terms that no unilateral action by the US would be tolerated in future and that they should also review their policy of drone attacks.
Talking about the recent interaction with American high-ups (US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen), the prime minister said that they have been told in implicit terms to not consider unilateral action in future and review drones policy.
However, the prime minister didnt mince words and rejected drones in unequivocal terms in his talk to senior journalists at his DHA residence here in the metropolis. He said Pakistan was of the firm opinion that these (drone) strikes were counter-productive, as they have thwarted our efforts to isolate local tribes from the Taliban.
The government of Pakistan has long been accused of approving US drone strikes secretly while condemning them publicly, while most recent revelations point to the presence of a deal at some point in time.
The PM said relations between the ISI and the CIA were back to normal, but differences between the US and Pakistan did exist over the modalities of prior sharing of information between the two countries regarding drone strikes.
The ISI-CIA relations have been repaired and they will continue to share terrorism-related information with each other as before. There is nothing to worry about in this regard, the prime minister said in his media talk. PM Gilani said that Pakistan and the US, however, were in the process of working out modalities to make drone strikes inside Pakistan a joint action by the two countries through sharing of information beforehand.
He said that there was difference of opinion between the two sides on the issue.
On the question of transfer of drone technology to Pakistan, the PM said it was not possible till the trust deficit is bridged.
The PM informed journalists that he in his conversation with the American delegation had set three pre-conditions to removing the existing trust deficit and to further build up the relations on strong footings.
My nation is out on streets for want of electricity and your country must help Pakistan to overcome its energy crisis. Given the anti-American sentiments here, it is all the more essential that America must do something for the people of Pakistan so that we could tell them that if Pakistan was extending cooperation in the war on terror, America was also taking reciprocal steps. Give us access to European markets because we want trade and not aid. And most importantly, respect our sovereignty and dont repeat unilateral actions like that of Abbottabad. A joint strategy on unilateral actions must be worked out, Gilani said while sharing part of his conversation with the visiting US officials.
Speaking in the context of difficulties in maintaining good relations between America and Pakistan, the PM said that problem with the Americans was that they were impatient and we are emotional.
When asked about US response over three demands put forward by his government, Gilani said that the US authorities had given him assurance that they would given serious consideration to Pakistans concerns and would come up with their response soon.
He said Pakistan had assured the US of its firm resolve that its soil would not be allowed to be used against any other country for terrorist activities. We should also have a look at our own deficiencies, the PM said, adding that there was a consensus on this point between the political and the military leadership.
When asked about any shift in Pakistans counter-terrorism strategy, he said Pakistan was following a 3-D strategy dialogue, development and deterrence to deal with militants. He said that he did not differentiate between good and bad Taliban, but there was no military solution to the issue. He said his government believed in a political solution for it to be long-lasting. He said Pakistan will support any Afghan initiative to have dialogue with the Taliban because we believe in prosperous, stable and peaceful Afghanistan.
Divulging further details of his meeting with Hillary and Mullen, the PM said: I shared with them the concerns of the people of Pakistan about the Osama episode and the overall cooperation with the US in the war on terror, and they briefed me about the apprehensions of their people and the Congressmen on the issue.
PM Gilani termed Senator John Kerry a good friend of Pakistan and lauded his statement that he was ready to write with his blood that the US was not after Pakistans nukes and that they were in safe hands.
Asked if most of the aid coming from the US in the last decade went to the military, Gilani saw no harm in it, saying that it was Pakistans army which consumed the funds to make the countrys defence stronger.
To a question about the fate of wives and children of Osama bin Laden captured from the Abbottabad compound, he said the matter would be dealt with as per law.
Asked why Pakistan was not purchasing cheap electricity and gas from Iran, he disagreed with the questioner, saying it was not that cheap as was being propagated.
To a question about his recent visit to China, he said that it was pre-scheduled and should not be seen in the context of the Abbottabad operation. He said Pak-China relations have touched new heights after his visit there.
It has been decided that there would be exchange of high-level visits between the two countries on alternate years. If the Chinese leadership comes to Pakistan in a year, it will be followed by a similar visit by the Pakistani leadership the following year, Gilani told reporters.
Asked about PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharifs criticism of his government, the PM said: The opposition has to do something to remain alive; otherwise we are one inside and outside the Parliament. I appeal to the masses not to be misled and perturbed by what the opposition was saying. They have now forgotten mid-term polls and were now preparing for next elections.
To a question if some timeframe for constitution of the Inquiry Commission on the Abbottabad operation had been agreed between the government and the opposition, Gilani replied in the negative, adding that there were no deadlines in politics. Reasoning and adjustability is the hallmark of politics, he added.
Asked about persistent demand coming from different quarters about formation of an inquiry commission on the PNS attack, he said he was prime minister of the country and was not bound to fulfill the desires of everybody on the issue. He said Pakistan may ask the US to make amends for the two Navy aircraft destroyed during the terrorist attack.
Responding to PTI chief Imran Khans allegations about his personal assets abroad, the PM asked Imran to desist from leveling such allegations without any tangible proof. He said he was ready to donate his alleged assets abroad, if found, to Imran Khan who could, in turn, deposit the same in his party funds.
To a question about increase in salaries of government servants in the coming budget, he said the federal government had already increased salaries of its employees and it is hoped that the provincial governments will follow the suit.
To another question, he said Pervaiz Elahi was authorised to use Sate Guest House as Senior Minister.
The PM clarified to a questioner that he had no camp office anywhere in the country and not even a summer camp in Murree.