Islamabad: Pakistan has decided to recognize the National Transition Council (NTC) government in Libya, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced on Sunday.

"I took the decision to accord recognition four days ago," Gilani said while replying to questions from journalists at a function at the Lahore Press Club. He explained that "assessment" of the changing situation in Libya took time as it was Pakistan's consistent policy to avoid interference in affairs of a sovereign state.

The announcement by the prime minister followed criticism of the delay in recognition by the country's main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) headed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

A PML-N leader, senator Ishaq Dar said Friday he had written a letter to the prime minister to press for recognition of the new dispensation in Libya.

In the letter he had stated that recognition was needed in the interest of a large number of Pakistani expatriates employed in Libya as there were indications that the NTC could move to substitute Pakistani workers with Indians because of Islamabad's hesitation in recognizing the new government.

Answering another question about tension in relations with US, Gilani said things were now moving in the "right direction."

The relations came under sever strains in the wake of the May 2 unilateral US operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a Pakistani garrison town.

A commission appointed by the government under a unanimous resolution of the Pakistani parliament is probing facts and circumstances of the operation and also how bin Laden managed to hide in Abbottabad for five years.

The prime minister stressed that national interest would be guiding principle in the government's talks with the US and that it would emphatically project the sentiments of the 180 million people of Pakistan and the views of the parliament and the recently held conference of all political parties.