Pakistani PM reassures Bush he will fight terrorists

Pakistan’s Prime Minister reassured Americans of his commitment to the war on terror, stating he would “fight those extremists and terrorists” who were “making the world not safe”.




Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani re-iterated his commitment to the war against “extremists and terrorists” after meeting US President George W. Bush on Monday.


He is in WashingtonDC on his first visit to the country since taking over from President Musharraf in Pakistan’s February elections.


Mr. Gilani said that his country was “committed to fight against those extremists and terrorists who are destroying and making the world not safe. This is a war which is against Pakistan, and we'll fight for our own cause”.


“The Americans are very worried about Pakistan. It was great for them to hear (Mr. Gilani) assurances”, said Philippe Gassot, France 24’s correspondent in WashingtonDC.


Mr. Gilani is also expected to meet with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. Mr. Obama was recently in Afghanistan, where he said that the situation was “precarious”.


The Pakistan-Afghanistan border is the focus of an intensifying battle between Al-Qaeda and Taliban-supported militants, and US-supported forces.


Increasing efforts to take control of the ungoverned, lawless border areas is one of the biggest issues in the Coalition’s war in Afghanistan. “We talked about the common threat we face, extremists who are very dangerous people”, said Mr. Bush.


“It’s important for the US to maintain relationships with Pakistan’s government, which is fragile. Without their help, it will be chaos there”, continued Gassot. 


Crackdown on miliant enclaves


Barely hours before the Gilani-Bush meeting, an airstrike in the tribal areas killed Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, an Egyptian Al-Qaeda bio-chemical weapons expert with a 5 million dollar bounty on his head. He allegedly trained Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber”.


There had been speculation that US-backed coalition forces were preparing to strike the tribal areas in Pakistan. They have been unhappy with the government’s apparent inability to control the areas, which has been signing peace deals with militant groups.


On the other side of the fluid frontier, Afghanistan’s government insists that Pakistan’s agencies play a role in supporting extremist elements in the tribal areas.


Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, the ISI, “have some 3,000 terrorists, most of them foreigners, under sabotage training,” said Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the NDS, on Monday.


It went on to accuse the service of trying to hamper the activities of Indian companies involved in reconstruction efforts in the country.


When Mr. Gilani declared that the service would be placed under civilian control on Saturday, a day before leaving Islamabad, it created a stir.


“Nobody will say that this agency is not under the control of an elected government,” said Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan People’s Party leader in a telephone interview with a Pakistani newspaper.


But on Sunday the government was forced to retreat, stating the notification was “misinterpreted”. According to Pakistani journalist and author Zahid Hussain, things remain as they are, at “status quo”.


Guns or butter?


Pakistan is the largest recipient of the US-sponsored Coalition Support Funds, meant to aid the country’s collaboration in counter-terrorism efforts. The week before Mr. Gilani’s arrival in WashingtonDC, Mr. Bush agreed to allow Pakistan to use about 230 million dollars in upgrading its F-16 fighter jets.


That ran into controversy with the Congress, who felt fighter planes had more to do with battling India than with Taliban-supported militants. 


On Monday Mr. Bush changed his strategy, offering 115 million dollars over two years in food aid to Pakistan, said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.



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