|PM says no
drone attacks in Swat, Balochistan
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday there will be no drone attacks in Swat and Balochistan as Pakistan has already discussed the issue with
Addressing a parliamentary party meeting, Prime Minister said that we will accept the verdict of court in Sharif brothers eligibility case and Punjab government. We had extended
our hand of friendship, which was accepted by the
Premier Gilani has directed the members not to chant slogans during President’s address to
Obama sets al-Qaeda
defeat as top goal in Afghanistan, Pakistan
"Says US to
launch aggressive regional diplomatic effort; to do more
to shore up Pakistan government; ‘no blank checks for
President Barack Obama unveiled a new war strategy for
Afghanistan on Friday with one key goal — to crush al-Qaeda
militants there and in Pakistan, who, he said, were
plotting new attacks on the United States.
Obama, flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and
Secretary Defence Robert Gates, said the US military in
Afghanistan would also shift the emphasis of its mission
to training and expanding the Afghan army so that it
could take the lead in counter-insurgency operations and
allow the US troops to leave.
“The situation is increasingly perilous,” Obama said
in a sombre speech in which he sought to explain to
Americans why he was boosting the US involvement in the
seven-year-old war and expanding its focus to include
Obama plans to send 4,000 more US troops to train the
army, along with hundreds of civilian personnel, to
improve the Afghan government’s delivery of basic
services. The force will be in addition to the 17,000
combat troops Obama has already ordered to send to
The United States will also reach out to Afghanistan’s
neighbours, step up military and financial aid to
stabilise Pakistan, and ask Nato allies to send more
troops for elections due in August and to help train the
Afghan security forces.
European Union countries said on Friday they were ready
to step up their presence in Afghanistan to complement
the new US plan. “The world cannot afford the price
that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos
or al-Qaeda operates unchecked,” Obama said.
The Afghan government said it welcomed all the major
conclusions of the review, especially the recognition
that the war against the Taliban was a regional problem.
Obama said the United States, together with the United
Nations, planned to form a “contact group” bringing
together countries with a stake in the security of the
region, including long-time US foe Iran, Russia, India
He said his new strategy had a “clear and focused
goal” —to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat
al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple
intelligence estimates had warned that al-Qaeda was
actively planning attacks on the United States from safe
havens in the mountainous border regions of Pakistan, he
“For the American people, this border region has
become the most dangerous place in the world. But this
is not simply an American problem. The safety of the
world is at stake.” By stating that the main mission
is to target al-Qaeda militants, Obama played down more
ambitious goals embraced by Bush and other Nato leaders,
who said a year ago the aim was to build a stable,
prosperous and democratic Afghan state.
Obama set no timetable for the strategy but he said the
United States would not “blindly stay the course”
and would set benchmarks for the Afghan government to
crack down on corruption and ensure it used foreign aid
to help its people. He said key to defeating al-Qaeda
was strengthening the weak civilian government of
President Asif Ali Zardari in Pakistan, where, he said
al-Qaeda and its allies were a “cancer that risks
killing Pakistan from within.”
The United States would give military aid to Pakistan to
help it combat al-Qaeda and economic assistance in
coordination with the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund. But, he added: “After years of mixed
results, we will not provide a blank check. Pakistan
must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al-Qaeda
and other violent extremists within its borders.”
Some lawmakers, including John Kerry, the chairman of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed
concern that there was not enough focus on regional
diplomacy and help for Pakistan. A bill sponsored by
Kerry and supported by Obama plans to triple economic
aid to Pakistan over five years.
“To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must make clear
that our relationship with Pakistan is grounded in
support for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the
Pakistani people. And to demonstrate through deeds as
well as words a commitment that is enduring, we must
stand for lasting opportunity.” Obama advocated that
the US steps backing Pakistan “are indispensable to
our effort in Afghanistan, which will see no end to
violence if insurgents move freely back and forth across
At the same time, he acknowledged that military actions
alone will not address the problem of violent extremism.
“It is important for the American people to understand
that Pakistan needs our help in going after al-Qaeda.
This is no simple task. The tribal regions are vast,
they are rugged and they are often ungoverned. “That
is why we must focus our military assistance on the
tools, training and support that Pakistan needs in
rooting out terrorists
“We will insist action be taken one way or the other
when we have intelligence about high-level targets.”In
the regional security perspective, Obama was conscious
of the historical tensions between India and Pakistan
and the need to defray strains between the two South
Asian powers over their disputes through constructive US
“To lessen tensions between two nuclear-armed nations
that too often teeter on the edge of escalation and
confrontation, we must pursue constructive diplomacy
with both India and Pakistan.”
The US president claimed the al-Qaeda leaders have moved
into Pakistan after US dislodged their Afghan hosts, the
Taliban from power in Kabul in post-9/11, 2001 invasion
“The people of Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered
the most at the hands of violent extremists,” he said,
hours after a suicide bombing in Khyber tribal agency
claimed scores of lives.
Obama stressed the commonality of Pakistani and American
peace and security goals and vowed a “lasting
partnership with the Pakistani people,” saying they
share with Americans the desire to get rid of terrorist
“The United States has the greatest respect for the
Pakistani people,” he said, applauding their rich
history and struggle for democracy in the country.
“The people of Pakistan want the same things that we
— an end to terror, access to basic services, the
opportunity to live their dreams and the security that
can only come with the rule of law.”
“The single greatest threat to their future comes from
al-Qaeda and its extremist allies. And that is why we
must stand together.”
The terrorists, he said, killed former prime minister
Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani soldiers and police personnel.
“Al-Qaeda and its extremists allies are a cancer that
risks killing Pakistan from within,” he said urging
the need for supporting Pakistan.
He also called for enactment of legislation on
establishing reconstruction opportunity zones under a
preferential trade plan to kickstart economic activity
and create jobs in the terrorism-afflicted areas.
“A campaign against extremism will not succeed with
bullets or bombs alone. Al-Qaeda offers the people of
Pakistan nothing but destruction. We stand for something
different. So today, I am calling upon Congress to pass
a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by John Kerry and Richard
Lugar that authorises $1.5 billion in direct support to
the Pakistani people every year over the next five years
- resources that will build schools, roads, and
hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan’s democracy.
“I am also calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan
bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen
and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the
border region to develop the economy and bring hope to
places plagued by violence. And we will ask our friends
and allies to do their part - including at the donors
conference in Tokyo next month.” Obama added, he does
“not ask for this support lightly”.
“These are challenging times, and resources are
stretched. But the American people must understand that
this is a down payment on our own future - because the
security of our two countries is shared. Pakistan’s
government must be a stronger partner in destroying
these safe-havens, and we must isolate al-Qaeda from the
Pakistani people,” he added.
“We need agricultural specialists and educators,
engineers and lawyers,” Obama said, adding “That’s
how we can help the Afghan government serve its people
and develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit
He said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will ask
other countries and international aid groups to
contribute to the civilian surge when she attends a
UN-led conference on Afghanistan on Tuesday in The
“It’s far cheaper to train a policeman to secure his
or her own village or to help a farmer seed a crop than
it is to send our troops to fight tour after tour of
duty with no transition to Afghan responsibility,”
Obama said. “Now a campaign against extremism will not
succeed with bullets or bombs alone,” Obama said.
“Al-Qaeda offers the people of Pakistan nothing but
By Asim Yasin
President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday welcomed US
President Barack Obama initiatives for Pakistan to
strengthen democracy and his call to US Congress to pass
a bill for $1.5 billion aid to Pakistan every year.
In a statement issued by the Presidency, Zardari said
Pakistan has always held the Pak-US relations in high
esteem and President Obama’s announcements during
speech on new strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan will
further cement these ties.
He said the creation of the Reconstruction Opportunity
Zones (ROZs) in tribal areas with the US help, will
create an enabling environment for the people there,
distressed for a long time by terrorism and extremism.
“Pakistan has always maintained that without going
into the root cause, the menace of terrorism cannot be
overcome and that is only possible by providing the
people there with employment opportunities,” he added.
He said Pakistan, which is at the forefront in war
against terror, lost its great leader and his spouse
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto at the hands of terrorists.
“No one knows better than us the importance of a
society which is free from terrorism and extremism as
Pakistanis have suffered immensely at the hands of
The president said his country always wants to maintain
friendly relations with all its neighbours on the basis
of equality, non-interference and respective for
sovereignty. Tahir Hasan Khan adds from Karachi: Prime
Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday endorsed the
new American policy and termed it a good change.
He was talking to newsmen at the National Institute of
Performing Arts (Napa) after the distribution of
certificates among the passing out students. He said it
was Pakistan's stance to take on board the regional
countries to solve the regional problem.
He said taking the regional countries China, India,
Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan on board to tackle the
Afghan issue would help in solving this problem. The
prime minister said the Pakistan stance was accepted
internationally and the change in the American policy on
the Afghan issue was also endorsement of the Pakistan
stance that terrorism and extremism could only be solved
through dialogue, discussion and development as the army
operation could not solve this problem.
He said the US reviewed its policy on the demand of
Pakistan and added that Pakistan assured the world that
Pakistan was against terrorism and extremism as “we
want peace and prosperity in the region”. He said US
President Barack Obama also talked about regional
cooperation in his new Afghan policy. He said Obama
admitted that few elements were spreading terrorism in
Prime Minister Gilani said the report about drone
attacks in Balochistan was denied by those who initiated
this and he could not say more about it. Replying to a
question, the prime minister said his government has no
intention of conquering the Punjab and would prefer to
win the hearts and minds of the people. Gilani also
declared that there were no differences among the
provinces and added that democracy and process of
reconciliation would continue as the government was
against governor's rule.
He said the government will withdraw governor's rule
after consultation with President Asif Ali Zardari as it
was imposed for a brief period. He said the PPP
leadership and government were committed to amend the
17th Amendment as it was promised by late Benazir Bhutto
in the Charter of Democracy.
Gilani said the government is also committed to
implement the CoD in letter and spirit and the
reconciliation process which started under the Charter
of Democracy would continue. Condemning the bomb blast
in Jamrud, he said tribal people are patriots and only
few elements were involved in the subversive activities.
He appreciated the role of Napa in promoting culture and
art and said there was a need to open more such
institutions in the country.
Reuters adds: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told
Reuters in an interview in Moscow that: I think the new
Obama administration’s approach is a very positive
approach. They are looking towards a regional approach
to the situation,”.
“Pakistan is willing to play an active, constructive
role in this because we feel our peace and security is
linked to Afghanistan’s ... there is spill-over,” he
said, shortly before Obama unveiled a new strategy in
Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But he said it was not enough for the United States and
its allies to boost troop numbers in Afghanistan.
“Along with a military surge, we need a greater effort
on socio-economic development and political developments
in Afghanistan,” he said.
Qureshi said the security situation in Afghanistan was
intertwined with a presidential election scheduled for
Aug. 20. “The elections ... will certainly help
improve the security situation in Afghanistan. We need a
stable, peaceful environment in Afghanistan to have a
meaningful election so it (the new US strategy) will
Welcoming the new plan, Pakistan’s ambassador to
United States Husain Haqqani, meanwhile, said: “The
government of Pakistan ... believes that it is an
extraordinarily positive sign that the Obama
administration is thoroughly re-examining its policy
toward our region, re-evaluating and reinvigorating our
common efforts to contain terrorism and extremism.”
“We have been especially pleased by the new level of
consultation and partnership that the administration has
demonstrated in producing this new strategy and
President Obama’s personal engagement at this critical
time. It bodes well not only for a stronger regional
approach to a clearly regional problem, but to a more
mature bilateral relationship between the United States
and Pakistan,” he added.
daunting’ in new plan: Halbrooke
WASHINGTON: The US envoy
for South Asia said on Friday that Pakistan’s border
regions posed the toughest challenge in a new US plan to
root out extremism, warning the area cast a shadow over
efforts in Afghanistan.
“We have to deal with the western Pakistan problem,”
special envoy Richard Holbrooke told reporters after US
President Barack Obama unveiled a new plan to root out
extremism from the region.
“And our superiors would all freely admit that of all
the dilemmas and challenges we face, that is going to be
the most daunting,” he said. He said that Pakistan
posed a particular challenge “because it’s a
sovereign country and there is a red line.” “The red
line is unambiguous and stated publicly by the Pakistani
government — no foreign troops on our soil.”
Holbrooke declined to discuss the sensitive issue,
saying it could endanger military operations. “You can
have a great government in Kabul — a government that
fulfills every criteria of democratic governance — and
if the current situation in western Pakistan continues,
the instability in Afghanistan continues,” Holbrooke
said. “We all know that.”
ISLAMABAD: After agreeing
to bury their differences and unite forces, Taliban
leaders based in Pakistan have closed ranks with their
Afghan comrades to ready a new offensive in Afghanistan
as the United States prepares to send 17,000 more troops
there this year, the New York Times has reported.
In interviews, several Taliban fighters based in the
border region said preparations for the anticipated
influx of American troops were already being made. A
number of new, younger commanders have been preparing to
step up a campaign of roadside bombings and suicide
attacks to greet the Americans, the fighters said.
The refortified alliance was forged after the reclusive
Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, sent
emissaries to persuade Pakistani Taliban leaders to join
forces and turn their attention to Afghanistan,
Pakistani officials and Taliban members said.
The overture by Mullah Omar is an indication that with
the prospect of an American buildup, the Taliban feel
the need to strengthen their own forces in Afghanistan
and to redirect their Pakistani allies toward blunting
the new American push.
The new Taliban alliance has raised concern in
Afghanistan, where Nato generals warn that the conflict
will worsen this year. It has also generated anxiety in
Pakistan, where officials fear that a united Taliban
will be more dangerous, even if focused on Afghanistan,
and draw more attacks inside Pakistan from United States
“This may bring some respite for us from militants’
attacks, but what it may entail in terms of national
security could be far more serious,” said one senior
Pakistani official, who spoke on condition of anonymity
because he is not permitted to talk to news
organisations. “This would mean more attacks inside
our tribal areas, something we have been arguing against
with the Americans.”
hail new US strategy
PARIS: France welcomed on Friday the new US strategy for
Afghanistan unveiled by President Barack Obama, saying
it was exactly what Paris had been seeking for months.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan hailed on Friday the US strategy
to fight extremism announced by President Barack Obama,
especially a focus on the al-Qaeda threat from Pakistan
and a push to build the Afghan security forces.
Karzai’s chief spokesman, Homayun Hamidzada, told AFP:
“We particularly appreciate the recognition that the
al-Qaeda threat mainly emanates from Pakistan and it
poses a danger to Afghanistan and our international
friends here,” he said.