Gulf News

Aziz asks US not to link military aid to results in fight against terror

Any legislatio­n critical of Pakistan would prove to be counter-productive, says PM

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Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz warned the United States yesterday against any legislatio­n that made military aid conditiona­l on its results in fighting terrorism and introducin­g democratic reforms.

Aziz’s comments came after leading US Democrats submitted a non-binding resolution to the Senate calling for such steps.

The resolution, submitted by Senators Chris Dodd, John Kerry and Joseph Biden, was reported by the web edition of The News, Pakistan’s biggestsel­ling English-language daily, yesterday.

“Given the sacrifices Pakistan has made in the war on terrorism any legislatio­n critical of Pakistan would involve a negative public reaction that would prove to be counter-productive,” Aziz said in remarks to a military symposium organised in Islamabad by the Pakistani and US militaries.

President General Pervez Musharraf is engulfed in a crisis over moves to sack the country’s Supreme Court chief justice, but has assured Pakistanis that he will not invoke emergency powers, and that elections due later this year or in 2008 will be on time.

The United States’ relationsh­ip with its ally in the war on terrorism has been under intense scrutiny for months because of growing frustratio­n over the strength of a Taliban insurgency in neighbouri­ng Afghanista­n, and the failure to capture Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri.

Pakistan has also been stung by reports that US forces in Afghanista­n have on occasion fired at militant targets in Pakistani territory, and sometimes even crossed the border.

Territoria­l integrity

“The sovereignt­y and territoria­l integrity is sacrosanct. Our armed forces are fully capable of taking any action required in our territory,” Aziz told the audience of military representa­tives from 22 countries.

“It is counter-productive to engage in accusation­s and counter-accusation­s as these only benefit our opponents,” he said, adding that quiet diplomacy should be used to settle difference­s.

US leaders habitually praise Musharraf for cooperatio­n in security matters when they meet him.

Lower-ranking officials, however, often have aired frustratio­n over the presence of what they say are Taliban sanctuarie­s in Pakistan, and US generals say the insurgency's command and control is located there.

Aziz said Pakistan’s much-criticised strategy of reaching peace accords with tribal elders in the restive Waziristan region bordering Afghanista­n was showing signs of success.

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