Pakistan, India cannot afford war: Gilani

Sunday, January 2, 2011

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and India cannot afford a war, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said, stressing that dialogue is the only way to resolve outstanding issues between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Responding to a question on the Pakistan-India relationship during his maiden appearance in a live television show, the prime minister said dialogue is the only way forward because both the countries cannot afford a war.

The prime minister took calls on a range of issues from the people during the show, which was jointly hosted by PTV and Dunya TV Saturday night, APP reported.

Gilani acknowledged India’s commitment that the bilateral talks cannot be made hostage to the 26/11 Mumbai attack. However, he accused India of not being ready to make “any compromise with Pakistan”.

“Although (Indian prime minister) Manmohan Singh agreed in several meetings with me that bilateral talks should not be made hostage to the (Mumbai attack) tragedy, the Indian rulers seem to be under political pressure at home not to make any compromise with Pakistan,” Dawn quoted Gilani as saying during the show.

The 50-minute programme covered a range of topics on domestic and international issues.

The prime minister said his government will launch a “jehad” against corruption in the country 2011 by adopting strong legislative measures.

“It is our resolve for the new year, that we will launch jehad against corruption. I have talked to Mian Sahib (opposition PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif) so that we can adopt the accountability bill with consensus. And it will be done in a way that nobody can raise a finger against it,” Gilani said.

Taking a swipe at those criticising the government for allowing US drone strikes in Pakistani territory, Gilani said: “We are trying to convince Washington that these strikes will eventually prove counter-productive.”

“Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state which cannot take any irresponsible step to stop US Pedator attacks. We are, however, confident that we will be able to persuade the world and the US to stop the drone attacks as they affect attempts to isolate militants from non-combatants,” he said.

Gilani reiterated his stance about WikiLeaks, dismissing as concocted its “revelations” about his tacit approval of the use of drones.

Explaining the reconciliation policy adopted by him to tackle the political stalemate in the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the prime minister said: “It means a balance of relations and a consensus among all the organs of state, including political parties, the establishment, media and civil society.”

The PPP-led coalition suffered a setback last week after its key ally, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), announced the withdrawal of its support to the government.

So far as the MQM’s anger with the coalition was concerned, Gilani said, the MQM had no complaints against him as most of them concerned the Sindh government.

About the demand of his replacement made by the estranged coalition partner Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Gilani said: “We should take the maulana’s criticism positively as he remained our ally and we would still like that he remains our supporter.”

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