Islamabad, 27 August 2011: A delegation of US Senators called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr today.
The delegation included Senator Robert P. Casey, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Richard Blumenthal. Ambassador Richard Hoagland was also present. The meeting was attended by Acting Foreign Secretary Dr. Alamgir Babar, Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddiq Akber, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar and Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Additional Secretary Foreign Affairs were also present.
Briefing the media Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that matters relating to Pak-US bilateral relations and mutual cooperation, war against terror and the regional situation were discussed in a very candid , frank and constructive manner during the meeting.
The President reiterated Pakistan’s call for a long term, sustainable and multifaceted relationship based on principles of sovereign equality, respect and trust. He said that continuity and smooth pace of bilateral equation was essential for taking maximum advantage of the toils of friendship.
The President said that recent developments at regional and international level make it necessary for the two countries to work hand in hand for stability of the region, on one hand, and to realize mutually agreed goals, on the other.
The President also reiterated his call that the two countries should not let some isolated incidents to affect their equation and to undo the efforts of building a multifaceted and long-term relationship.
He said that clearly defining and following the mutually agreed terms of engagement was necessary to avoid operational irritants that hamper the relationship. This, he said, was also essential in view of divergent positions and interests on different issues.
The President also called for exercising restraints by both the countries in issuing any statement that could potential impact the relationship. He said that extra care needs to be taken where sensitivities are involve so as to avoid sending negative signals to the people of two countries.
Discussing recent developments, the President appreciated US assistance and cooperation in the issue of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Fight against militants was also discussed during the meeting. The President said that Pakistan was committed to pursue this struggle till its logical conclusion no matter how many sacrifices we may have to offer, he told the visiting US Senators.
The President however emphasized upon the need for the international community to support the people and strengthen civilian law enforcing agencies of Pakistan in the fight against militancy. The President said that to permanently exterminate the cancer of militancy, the focus must be on bringing about socio-economic development in those area which were hit hard by the scourge of militancy. He said that imparting quality education to youth and then utilizing their capabilities in constructive manner through offering them job opportunities was essential to automatically defeat militants and extremist mindset.
Discussing regional situation, President reiterated Pakistan strong desire for having peace in the region and having amicable relations with its neighbors so that an environment could be created where all the countries could properly focus on addressing their real issues and not just pursue security-driven agendas.
The President also said that we are committed to support every effort directed towards stability of region. He said that Pakistan was a major stakeholder in peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan and we were ready to work with international community for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan supported an Afghan led peace and reconciliation process.
The Senators delegation thanked the President for meeting and appreciated Pakistan’s struggle against militants.