US policies can hurt bilateral ties: Gilani
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday described as “discriminatory” new security measures introduced by the US government to screen Pakistani nationals in America, and said persistence with such policies – which lead to “consternation and anxiety among Pakistanis” – could affect the bilateral ties.
According to a press statement issued after the prime minister’s meeting with a US congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain, Gilani called on the US government to revisit the policy, and asked for the immediate removal of Pakistan from the list of countries whose citizens are to be screened.
He also expressed concern over delay in the reimbursement of money – which had crossed $2 billion by December 2009 – on account of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). He said the “inordinate delay” in the receipt of payments from the US was affecting Pakistan’s campaign against terrorism. He said disbursements from the CSF must not be linked with any other issue, and called for the outstanding dues to be paid immediately.
Gilani said Pakistan had spent $35 billion over the last eight years in the war on terror, and asked the Washington to help Islamabad revive the country’s economy. He also called for greater access to US markets under various arrangements as part of efforts to encourage foreigners to invest in Pakistan and boost the economy.
The prime minister said the US must de-hyphenate Pakistan and Afghanistan, treat Islamabad and New Delhi on equal footing and play a proactive role in the resolution of core Indo-Pak issues, for a long term, stable and congenial relationship between Islamabad and Washington.
Gilani also reiterated his government’s disappointment over the continuing drone attacks and persisting US reluctance to share drone technology with Pakistan.
Senator McCain clarified that his statement in Kabul on drone attacks had been “misquoted” by the press. He said he wanted Pakistan and the US to “discuss and resolve this irritant at the earliest”.
Senator Joseph Lieberman – chairman of the US Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee – agreed with Gilani over the fallout of the new security measures introduced by the US to screen Pakistanis, saying he was also sceptical about the usefulness of these measures. He assured the prime minister he would take up the issue at the next meeting of his committee.
Separately, the US delegation also called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Ashfaq Kayani at General Headquarters to discuss various issues of mutual interest, according to the ISPR.
Later, another delegation led by US Senator Mitch McConnell also called on Kayani.
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