Gilani spells out new rules for US
The Nation – 21/12/2011
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani Wednesday said that Pakistan wanted to take up three issues with the United States, which encompassed the rules of future engagements between the two countries. While addressing the meeting of Afghan and Pakistani parliamentary delegations held under the auspices of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency at PM’s House, Gilani said the US must guarantee the sovereignty of Pakistan and no Abbottabad-like unilateral action in future; and if any credible and actionable information was available, it should be shared with Pakistan for action.
He further added that the drone attacks, which caused collateral damage, must be stopped, as these were grossly detrimental to the government’s efforts to isolate the terrorists from local population. Prime Minister said Pakistan cut off NATO supplies, got Shamsi airbase vacated and boycotted the Bonn Conference in the aftermath of the NATO attack on Pakistani army check post on November 26.
Gilani said Pakistan wanted sovereign, independent, prosperous and stable Afghanistan, which was in the Pakistan’s interests. Pakistan is a part of the solution and not part of the problem, the Prime Minister said. He said assassination of Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the Afghan High Peace Council, was a severe setback to the peace and reconciliation efforts as Prof Rabbani was a great supporter of friendship between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Prime Minister accepted the suggestion of one of the co-chairmen of the delegation to inaugurate the Engineering University being built in Balkh with the assistance of Pakistan. 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 $330 million pledged money. He said Pakistan plans to build a new block at Mazar-i-Sharif Hospital and a 50-bed eye hospital at Gardez.
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 Minister for Commerce’s visit to Islamabad in September last, he added. The Prime Minister said bilaterally, Pakistan and Afghanistan had $2 billion trade annually and the target was to enhance it to $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 three million Afghan refugees and said: “We want return of Afghan refugees to their country with honour, dignity and self-respect.”
Gilani asked the Afghan parliamentarians to express his best wishes to his brother President Hamid Karzai. Agencies add: Pakistani and Afghan members of parliament on Wednesday asked their governments to sign a treaty of extradition of criminals on both sides and form a commission on prisoners that could facilitate exchange of those prisoners who have not committed heinous crimes.
The MPs issued a 23-point Joint Declaration at the conclusion of their two-day dialogue, stressing Pakistan and Afghanistan should also develop bilateral cooperation between the armed forces and security agencies of the two countries. The two-day Pakistan-Afghanistan Parliamentarians’ Dialogue discussed trade and travel between Pakistan and Afghanistan, investment opportunities by investors of both countries and prospects of Pak-Afghan relations in post-NATO/US Forces withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Joint Declaration called upon the governments to improve coordination on counter-terrorism operations and address apprehensions regarding terrorists’ safe havens. On narcotics and terrorist-financing, the MPs stressed the need to install effective control on growth and supply of drugs fuelling terrorism in the region and to enhance border management and intelligence-sharing and cooperation.
They called for liberalising visa regimes, enhancing communication networks including air travel, road and rail network (Kabul to Peshawer). They also proposed facilitating media exchanges and greater support and facilitation for Afghan students. They proposed that central banks of both Pakistan and Afghanistan should follow the Basel Committee III on supervision of banks especially on money laundering and terrorist financing. They called for a visa-free regime between parliamentarians of two countries.
On trade ties, the Joint Declaration said that Pakistani and Afghan investors and business persons should get reciprocal incentives in each country to strengthen business and trade. They also called for early return of Afghan refugees in Pakistan to Afghanistan with dignity and honour and facilitation of youth and cultural exchanges.
Parliamentarians agreed that trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan needs to be promoted further for strengthening bilateral relationship and well-built bridges of friendship of the two countries. They also agreed that the existing conducive regional environment should be utilised for economic engagement of the international community with Afghanistan and Pakistan.