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Gilani urges intelligence sharing to combat Pakistan militants

The US should increase intelligence sharing with Pakistan to allow it to "act swiftly'' against militants near the Afghan border instead of carrying out strikes on Pakistani territory, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said.

  • Bloomberg
  • Published: 07:47 July 30, 2008
  • Gulf News

Washington: The US should increase intelligence sharing with Pakistan to allow it to "act swiftly'' against militants near the Afghan border instead of carrying out strikes on Pakistani territory, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said.

"We can do it ourselves,'' Gilani told the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington in remarks that included a defense of Pakistan's security capabilities and a plea for more cooperation and weapons.

The government in Islamabad is "striving to save Pakistan from terrorism and extremism'' and isn't a "surrogate'' of anyone, he said.

President George W. Bush said after meeting with Gilani yesterday that the prime minister gave a "strong commitment'' to control the terrorist threat from the country's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and US intelligence agencies say Islamic militants use bases in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas to train, arm themselves and plan attacks against troops across the border and beyond.

When asked about the federal government's lack of control over the areas, the prime minister responded that all elected senators from that region support him.

Gilani's administration is tackling Islamic extremism using a strategy of negotiation, economic and political development and the selective use of military force in an effort to cut terrorist attacks that killed more than 2,000 people in Pakistan last year.

Soldiers deployed

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf deployed more than 100,000 soldiers in the tribal areas to combat Taliban and Al Qaida terrorists crossing the 2,430-kilometer frontier with Afghanistan.

Gilani's coalition government took office after opposition parties won February's elections, defeating supporters of Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999 and was Pakistan's army chief until November.

Pakistani government leaders agreed in a July 23 meeting to increase investment in education and employment in tribal areas to dampen support for militants. Some US lawmakers also are coming around to the idea of a broader approach.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor of a bill authorizing $7.5 billion in non-military aid for Pakistan over five years to be used for development.

Gilani met with presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain and today with presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In response to a question on whether he thought Americans understood Pakistan, Gilani said McCain was "familiar with the situation.''

He did not comment on Obama.

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