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Pak will use all means to eliminate terrorists: Gilani

world Updated: May 26, 2011 15:57 IST

Pakistan will use all "means" to eliminate terrorists and their sanctuaries inside the country, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said amidst rising criticism of the country's armed forces in the wake of deadly 17 hour standoff at a key naval air base at Karachi.

Asserting that Pakistan was now entering a "defining phase" in the fight against terrorism, Gilani said "security, defence and law enforcement agencies will be authorised to use all means to eliminate terrorists and militants."

The Prime Minister, who made these remarks after a crucial meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DDC) followed by the meeting with the defence chiefs, gave no indication whether the army was considering new offensive along the Afghan border, where most of the radical militant groups are based.

The US has been pressing Pakistan hard for offensive in North Waziristan, where it suspects that highly trained cadres of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network are based.

The second meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet in less than a fortnight was presided over by Gilani and was attended by federal ministers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the three service chief and the Director General of ISI.

It had been convened to discuss the security situation in the aftermath of the brazen weekend attack on the Karachi naval air base.

In his opening remark, Gilani called for revisiting the counter-terrorism strategy.

A statement issued by the Committee after the meeting said the civil and military leadership have decided to act decisively against terrorists and noted that current national security situation demanded tough decisions.

The statement released by the DCC said "National security is the foremost priority and all arms of the government will ensure that terrorists' hideouts will be destroyed using all appropriate means," the Dawn reported.

The DCC agreed that like the Swat operation, national consensus should be built prior to initiating an action against terrorists.

"The national consensus on eliminating terrorism will be implemented through a well-coordinated and comprehensive strategy."

The committee called for "full public support" in the new phase in the fight against terrorism.

The weekend raid on the naval base, which is suspected to have been carried out by militants trained in Waziristan, killed at least 10 securitymen and destroyed two US made spy planes.

The attack, one of the most brazen in years, raised fresh anxieties internationally about the security of the Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

However Gilani dismissed fears about the safety of the nuclear assets.

"Concerns have been expressed about the safety and security of our strategy assets.

Any speculation in this regard is unwarranted," Gilani said.