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Backing US was compulsion, not choice: Kasuri

The foreign minister said that an uncooperative attitude towards the US would have landed Pak in a similar situation like Iraq or Afghanistan.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2006 16:05 IST

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri seconded Pakistan's decision in joining the international war on terrorism on grounds that an uncooperative attitude on Pakistan's part towards the United States would have landed them in a similar situation like Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying this during the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Friday, which was summoned to discuss Monday's air-strike on a Bajaur seminary in which more than 80 people were killed, triggering country-wide protests and a wave of agitation in tribal areas.

According to Online news agency, Kasuri told the Senate committee that siding with the US was a compulsion and not a choice as Pakistan's uncooperative attitude towards the US in the war against terrorism could have landed the country in a situation similar to that of Iraq.

The Foreign Minister came under severe criticism for what was described as lopsided foreign policy, which some senators said had given the country nothing and taken away its sovereignty and dignity.

Kasuri was asked questions relating to the Bajaur incident, on the fate of Northern areas and Pakistan-India talks.

Some members criticised the government for the Bajaur incident and described it as a foreign policy failure.

Kasuri said questions relating to the Bajaur operation should be addressed to the interior and defence ministries, which were responsible for the country's law and order situation and anti-terrorism operations, adding he could not say if there was any US involvement in the bombing.

Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), blamed the foreign policy for the loss of so many innocent lives and termed it extra-judicial killings.

Accusing the United States of orchestrating the attack, the Maulana said the Pakistan Army could not be so cruel as to kill its own people in such a barbaric way.

He said if the government knew that there were terrorists hiding somewhere in the Bajaur Agency it could have sent security forces to the area to arrest them.

He said such an extreme action would have been justified if the militants had defied the writ of the government.

Maulana Haq rejected Kasuri's stand that had Pakistan refused to join the US-led anti-terror war the US would have taken action.

He asked the government to demonstrate courage and stop repeating such incidents in future.

At one point, Nisar A Memon, another committee member, said that there was no mention of the country's foreign policy on the foreign office's official website, which reflected the inability of the foreign office to formulate and declare its policy while all other government departments had projected their policies.

Kasuri admitted that Pakistan was forced to take action on its side of the border to satisfy Afghanistan and to remove their complaints.

He said Pakistan was pursuing a policy of peaceful co-existence to subdue the hostile attitude of the Afghan leadership.

First Published: Nov 04, 2006 16:05 IST