Islamabad: Pakistan cannot be pressurised to “do more”, a combative Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Thursday as Islamabad’s relations remained strained with Washington over an accusation that spy agency ISI was supporting the Haqqani terror network.
Gilani urged the people to stand united to confront the challenges as he addressed the country’s political leadership at the specially convened All Parties Conference (APC) here.
He said there was need to resolve issues in a responsible and positive manner and these could only be addressed through dialogue, Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
He rejected the US officials’ statements that the ISI-supported Haqqani network was behind recent attacks in Afghanistan, including the Sep 11 truck bomb attack and the Sep 13 assault on the US embassy in Kabul.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Sep 22 accused the Pakistani government of supporting the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network. Mullen called the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI, a charge Islamabad denied.
Gilani said: “Pakistan cannot be pressurised to do more.” The prime minister termed the statements “surprising”. He said Pakistan desired relations based on mutual respect, dignity and honour. “Protection and upholding of national sovereignty is our first priority,” Gilani said and added that Pakistani nation was an honourable and respectable nation and was resilient and strong enough to tackle all important challenges to its national interests.
Stating that in Afghanistan, Pakistan fully supports the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led efforts for transition, Gilani said the assassination of former president Burhanuddin Rabbani had severely damaged the chances of a peaceful transition in Afghanistan.
He said the Pakistani political leadership and the country had to stand up to the challenges by rising above petty political differences to defend its territory, national sovereignty and integrity. He said the meeting was to discuss vital national issues and to apprise the political leaders about the latest changes in the region.
Just a day ago, Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, President Asif Ali Zardari and Gilani held a meeting here to discuss the current situation.
Meanwhile, during the meet, Hina Rabbani Khar, foreign minister of Pakistan also apprised the participants of her meetings with the US Government officials during her visit to New York for the UN General Assembly session.
Khar said she assertively presented Pakistan’s case during her meetings and highlighted the immense sacrifices rendered by the nation in the war against terrorism.
ISI chief Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha briefed the meeting about the challenges the country was facing on the military front. Pasha said the ISI was not exporting terrorism and denied US accusations of supporting the Haqqani network, Geo TV reported citing sources.
During the meet, PML-N President Nawaz Sharif said that there must be some reason that the world was leveling these accusations against Pakistan. He called for all issues to be presented before parliament and added that the world would not believe Pakistan unless parliamentary resolutions were implemented.
Kayani replied that he would address his concerns, the report added.
The deteriorating ties with the US has led Pakistan to court its allies.
On Wednesday, Pakistan and Iran vowed to work together for regional peace and stability besides agreeing to cooperate on security and border management.
Pasha visited Saudi Arabia Monday while Chinese Vice Premier Meng Jianzhu came to Islamabad on a two-day visit.