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US bounty on Saeed a wrong signal: PM Gilani

06 April, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Thursday the US bounty on Jamaatud Dawa (JD) chief Hafiz Saeed would send a "wrong signal" at a time when the two countries were embarking upon new dimensions.

"This is purely an internal issue of Pakistan and the US has been asked to provide evidence [against Saeed], if they have any, to the Pakistani government… This was also conveyed to the US deputy secretary of state that when new rules of engagements are being defined, they should send a positive signal to Pakistan," Gilani told the joint sitting of parliament.

Gilani said his Indian counterpart was ready to talk to Pakistan on all issues, including the core issue of Kashmir, water and Siachen.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has put all cards on the table to talk to Pakistan," Gilani said when President Asif Ali Zardari's upcoming visit to India came under discussion.

He brushed aside the perception that the president would hold talks with India on bilateral relations. "All talks with India will be conducted by me for my being chief executive of the country," he added.

"We will not take any step that is against the national interest," Gilani said. He also assured the House that parliament would be taken into confidence over the president's visit to India which, he said, was "totally a personal visit".

"The president is visiting India purely for his personal faith as he has long desired to visit Ajmer Sharif."

The debate on the president's visit was triggered by opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. He said that parliament and people of the country should be told as what was on the agenda of the president's visit.

"Zardari sahib is not an ordinary person. He is head of the state. An entourage of 40 members of parliament visiting with him is beyond the comprehension," he said.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told the House that only one minister and personal staff of the president would accompany him during his visit.

Nisar said his party was in favour of good relations with India "but it should be a two- way traffic".

"Our prime minister and president visit India. But Indians are not even sending their cricket and hockey teams to Pakistan," he said, and asked the rulers to care about Pakistan's self-respect.

Nisar also called the US bounty on Hafiz Saeed a "joke", and urged the Parliamentary Committee on National Security Committee to take notice of the issue.

"On one hand, new rules of engagements are being redefined with the US and on the other, they are making joke of the country by targeting a citizen of Pakistan against whom no case is registered in the US."

The JUI-F's Fazlur Rehman also called the head money on Hafiz Saeed a joke and an "unwise" decision of the US. He said that if the US had any complaints against Hafiz Saeed, it should have approached the Pakistan government.

Later, MQM lawmakers also staged a token walkout against increase in fuel prices.

End.

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