Zardari calls for transfer of drone technology to Pakistan
* President says sustained US support must be based on mutual trust, respect
* Calls for quick payments of $1.5bn CSF arrears
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday called for the transfer of drone technology to Pakistan for use by its own security forces against the Taliban for “wider public acceptability”.
The president said the US drone attacks on Pakistani territory undermined national consensus on the war against terrorism.
Zardari expressed these views during a meeting with US National Security Adviser General James Jones – accompanied by US Ambassador to Islamabad Anne W Patterson and other US officials – who called on him at the Presidency.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani were also present at the meeting.
The president’s spokesman, Senator Farhatullah Babar, said that regional security, drone attacks, fight against militancy, rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons, strengthening of the law enforcement agencies, Coalition Support Fund arrears, the new screening laws at US airports and Pakistan’s energy needs were discussed in the meeting.
According to a press release, the president said Pakistan welcomed US declarations of support for Pakistan’s security and economic development, and emphasised that continued support must be based on mutual respect and trust.
Tracing the history of militancy in the region, Zardari said that back in the 1980s, the international community chose to fight the “rival ideology” using the region as its battleground.
After defeating the rival ideology, the international community abandoned the region and the militants it had nurtured, which resulted in a new wave of militancy in the region, the president remarked.
He said the dynamics of the situation led Pakistan to become a security-driven state and forced Islamabad to neglect the country’s social and human uplift.
The international community now owed it to Pakistan to help rebuild the country economically and socially, Zardari said.
According to Babar, the president emphasised the need for ensuring democratic stability in Pakistan by pursuing a well-structured economic development agenda, which the international community had a great role to play in. In this context, the president reiterated the call for allowing greater market access to Pakistani goods in the US and European markets.
The president said Pakistan had suffered losses of over $35 billion during the last eight years, as a result of the fight against militancy, in addition to the colossal and un-quantifiable social and human losses, which had almost crippled the nation’s economy.
Delays: The president also pointed out the delays in payment of over $1.5 billion arrears of Coalition Support Fund and called for quick settlement of the outstanding dues.
The president also expressed reservations over the new screening laws at US airports that discriminated against Pakistani nationals. He called for the laws to be reviewed as they had fuelled anti-US sentiments and led to doubts among the people of Pakistan.
The US National Security advisor appreciated Pakistan’s role in the war against extremism and militancy, and assured Washington’s continued strategic, political and economic support to Islamabad.
Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan