Islamabad: Senator John McCain, former presidential candidate and Republican senator from Arizona, called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr today.
He was accompanied by Mr. Cameron P. Munter, US Ambassador in Islamabad, Mr. Christine Brose, Mr. Vance Serchuk and Ms. Maggie Goodlander.
Pak side included Mr. A. Rehman Malik, Federal Minister for Interior, Mr. M. Salman Faruqui, Secretary General to the President, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam and other officials.
Matters concerning Pak-US relations, war against terror and the regional situation were discussed during the meeting.
Briefing the media Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that the President during the meeting reiterated his call for both the countries to work more closely in institutionalizing the mutual cooperation and cement bilateral relations based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
The President reiterated call for specifying clear and unambiguous terms of engagements in the war against the militants in order to avoid adverse impacts on bilateral relations owing to difference of opinion and stances on various issues. We need to build framework for an enduring strategic partnership, he added.
The President said that Pakistan wanted to build a long-term, sustainable and multidimensional relationship with the US that was marked by mutual understanding of each others’ interest, mutual trust and respect. The President said that a stable, long-term and multifaceted relationship of the two countries was not only in the mutual interests of the two countries but would also serve the purpose of stability for region.
The President said that the war against terror was a long drawn war. He said that it was important that root causes of militancy and reasons for drift towards extremism were also addressed. He said that a multi-pronged strategy encompassing socio-economic, political and educational measures besides judicious use of power could address the challenge of militancy and militant mindset.
He said that Pakistan has been the worst sufferer of this scourge and has suffered losses that exceed in quantum to any other nation. He said that with direct and indirect economic losses equalling to $68 billion and 35000 martyrs behind us, we were determined to pursue this war till its logical conclusion. Our commitment remains above-board and without even slightest shadow of doubt, the President emphasized.
The President said that besides the economic losses, the impacts of the war on our social fabric were equally devastating. He said that the Government, despite tremendous losses and toll, was committed to the uplift of the people especially of those who have been worst hit by the menace of militancy. The President said that he had been continuously pleading before the international the case for socio-economic development of the people of the hard hit areas especially that of tribal areas. FATA remains our top most priority, the President emphasized.
He said that the Government was committed to bring about qualitative change in the lives of the people of tribal areas by bringing socio-economic development in the tribal areas. Through good education and providing the youth better economic opportunities we can effectively wean them away falling into the traps of militants, the President said.
The President also raised the issue of recent moves in the Congress to reduce assistance under Kerry-Lugar-Berman. The issue of delays in flow of assistance, ROZ legislation and Enterprise Fund was also discussed during the meeting.
Discussing regional situation, the President reiterated Pakistan support for efforts to contribute towards lasting peace in Afghanistan and helping in the development of the country.
Senator McCain thanked the President for meeting the delegation and appreciated Pakistan’s countless sacrifices and struggle against the militants.
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