Give peace a chance; APC rejects US assertions and allegations
30 September, 2011
ISLAMABAD: The All-Parties Conference (APC) held on Thursday to forge unity in the latest showdown with Washington called for adoption of the "give peace a chance" as a guiding central principle and recognised that there has to be a new direction and policy with a focus on peace and reconciliation.
The unanimously adopted joint declaration of the APC released at the conclusion of the meeting rejected the recent assertions and baseless allegations made against Pakistan by US of its alleged links with Haqqani network by calling them uncalled for, devoid of any substance and derogatory to a partnership approach. The declaration also proposed to form a parliamentary committee to oversee the implementation of earlier resolutions as well as this resolution, progress of which will be made public on a monthly basis.
The joint declaration stated that as a peace-loving country, Pakistan desires to establish and maintain friendly and cordial relations with all countries of the world on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual interest and respect. It also emphasised the need for initiating dialogue with a view to negotiate peace with our own people in the Tribal Areas. It also called for further enhancing brotherly bilateral relations with Afghanistan at three levels on priority basis: government to government, institution to institution and people to people.
The joint declaration also stressed on enhancing self-reliance comprehensively and noted that trade, not aid, should clearly be the way forward. "We should also focus on internal economic and tax reforms as well as resource mobilisation and the curbing of corruption", it envisaged. Terming the defence of Pakistan's sovereignty and its territorial integrity a sacred duty, the meeting resolved that they will never be compromised. It was decided that national interests, which are supreme, shall guide the country's policy and response to all challenges at all times.
Refusing to be pressured into doing more in the war on terror, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said, "American statements shocked us, and negate our sacrifices and successes in the ongoing war against terror." But he sought to lower tensions with the United States, saying that differences should be resolved through talks. "We should give up talking about assumptions for the sake of meaningful negotiations. Pakistan cannot be pressurised to do more. Our national interests should be respected. Our doors are open for dialogue," Gilani said.
Washington is now conducting a final review on whether to blacklist the network allegedly linked to Pakistani intelligence as a terror group, which risks then exposing Islamabad to economic sanctions. Islamabad denies any support for Haqqani attacks in Afghanistan. American officials want Pakistan to launch an offensive against the Haqqanis, but the military says it is too over-stretched fighting local Taliban to open a new front against a US enemy that does not pose a threat to Pakistan.
"Pakistan's red lines and national interests must be respected," Gilani asserted while terming "blame game" as counter-productive. "This should end," he said. He termed the statements by the US officials as "surprising", particularly as these ignored the immense sacrifices rendered by the people and the armed forces of Pakistan.
The prime minister said there was a need to resolve issues in a responsible and positive manner and said these could only be addressed through dialogue. "We have rejected these assertions and underscore the importance of addressing all issues in a mature, reasonable and responsible manner," he said. US pressure on Pakistan to attack Afghan militants on its soil will not succeed, Gilani told the gathering of political and military leaders.
"Pakistan cannot be pressured to do more, but the doors are still open from our side for talks and discussion," the premier said, adding, "We reject these allegations. God willing, we can face these challenges with unity. We are committed to defend our independence and sovereignty. ... I am confident that our nation is determined to defend its geographical frontiers, independence and sovereignty. Our armed forces are united as always. They have never disappointed their people," Gilani said.