ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday reiterated Pakistan’s call for a long term, sustainable and multifaceted relationship with the United States based on principles of sovereign equality, respect and trust.He was talking to a delegation of US Senators here at Aiwan-e-Sadr.The delegation included Senators Robert P. Casey, Sheldon Whitehouse, Michael Bennet and Richard Blumenthal. Ambassador Richard Hoagland was also present.The meeting was attended by Acting Foreign Secretary Dr. Alamgir Babar, Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddiq Akber, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar and Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Additional Secretary Foreign Affairs.
Briefing mediapersons, Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that matters relating to Pak-US bilateral relations and mutual cooperation, fight against terrorism and the regional situation were discussed in a very candid, frank and constructive manner during the meeting.He said that the President highlighted the continuity and smooth pace of bilateral equation as it was essential for taking maximum advantage of the toils of friendship.
The President said,”recent developments at regional and international levels make it necessary for the two countries to work hand in hand for stability of the region, on one hand, and to realize mutually agreed goals, on the other”.
The President also reiterated his call that the two countries should not let some isolated incidents to affect their equation and to undo the efforts of building a multifaceted and long-term relationship.He said that clearly defining and following the mutually agreed terms of engagement was necessary to avoid operational irritants that hamper the relationship. This, he said, was also essential in view of divergent positions and interests on different issues.President Zardari also called for exercising restraints by both the countries in issuing any statement that could impact the relationship.He said that extra care needed to be taken where sensitivities were involved so as to avoid sending negative signals to the people of two countries.
Discussing recent developments, the President appreciated the US assistance and cooperation in the issue of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).Fight against militants was also discussed during the meeting and President Zardari told the visiting Senators, “Pakistan is committed to pursue this struggle till its logical conclusion no matter how many sacrifices we may have to offer.”The President, however, emphasized upon the need for the international community to support the people and strengthen civilian law enforcing agencies of Pakistan in the fight against militancy.
President Zardari said that to permanently exterminate the cancer of militancy, the focus must be on bringing about socio-economic development in those areas which were hit hard by the scourge of militancy.He said imparting quality education to youth and then utilizing their capabilities in a constructive manner through offering them job opportunities was essential to automatically defeat militants and extremist mindset.Discussing regional situation, the President reiterated Pakistan’s strong desire for having peace in the region and having amicable relations with its neighbours so that an environment could be created where all the countries could properly focus on addressing their real issues and not just pursue security-driven agenda.
President Zardari also said, “We are committed to support every effort directed towards stability of region.”
He said that Pakistan was a major stakeholder in peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan ready to work with international community for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.The President said Pakistan supported an Afghan led peace and reconciliation process.The Senators delegation thanked the President for meeting and appreciated Pakistan’s struggle against militants.