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Now, Pakistan wants India-like N-deal from US

June 06, 2009 19:08 IST

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday said the United States should offer Pakistan a civil nuclear cooperation deal similar to the one it finalised with India in order to maintain "balance" in the region.

"As far as the civil nuclear cooperation is concerned, the US has given this facility to India and we think they should give a similar facility to Pakistan to maintain the balance in this region," Gilani said.

Pakistan has held talks with France on civil nuclear cooperation, he said during a brief interaction with reporters on the sidelines of an official function.

Asked about India's strong reaction to the release of Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohd Saeed by a Pakistani court and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's comments that bilateral talks could not be resumed till Pakistan took credible action against terrorism emanating from its soil, Gilani said: "That is their point of view. As far as we are concerned, action can be taken only when there is evidence."

However, Gilani acknowledged that there are loopholes in Pakistan's laws for tackling terrorism. He said the government would consult political parties to find ways to improve such legislation. "We have the resolve to end terrorism and we will examine what legislation is needed to make this more effective," he said.

Pakistan authorities have said they would file an appeal against the Lahore High Court's order freeing Saeed nearly six months after he was placed under house arrest in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. In reply to a question about possible Indian involvement in fomenting unrest in Pakistan, Gilani said intelligence agencies are probing such allegations.

"When they have evidence, we will take it up at the appropriate level," he added.

Gilani described the US policy of conducting drone attacks in the tribal belt as counter-productive and criticised US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke for saying that no Pakistani leader had raised the issue during his recent visit to the country.

Holbrooke, who yesterday ended a three-day visit to the country, told a news conference that no Pakistani leader had raised the issue of drone attacks.

Gilani said both he and opposition PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had told Holbrooke the drone attacks are counter- productive.

The Prime Minister said both he and Sharif had told Holbrooke that the US should instead provide drones to Pakistan so that it could carry out such strikes on its own. The Pakistan government and military had developed a "sound" strategy to separate militants from the residents of the tribal areas, he said.

"But they get united whenever there are drone strikes and this is counterproductive. It adds to our problems," he added.

Gilani said the ongoing military operations against the Taliban in Swat was not a conventional war and the government wanted it to end as soon as possible so that people displaced by the fight can return to their homes with dignity. Over 2.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting in Buner, Dir and Swat districts of the North West Frontier Province. More than 1,300 militants and over 100 security personnel have died since the operations were launched.
 

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