ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday told a US congressional delegation that he was unable to intervene in the issue of Raymond Davis, accused of killings in Lahore, as the matter was sub judice.
A high-powered delegation, that also met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh separately, raised the issue of Davis with the President and sought his intervention for release of the American national.
According to Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, the Congressmen also raised the matter of Raymond Davis with the President. The President said that he appreciated their concern but the matter was already before the courts. It would be prudent to wait for the legal course to be completed, Babar said quoting the President as telling the US delegation.
Other than release of Davis, the economic cooperation topped the discussions of the delegation with both the President and the Finance Minister.
Babar said that matters relating to Pak-US bilateral relations, mutual cooperation, fight against militancy, ROZs and security situation in the region in addition to other related issues were discussed during the meeting. Babar said that the President highlighted economic situation of the country during the meeting and focused upon the need for US support to Pakistan in pleading its case for assistance and market access before the international community.
The Finance Minister while meeting the delegation stressed upon the United States legislators to help Pakistan in getting access to American market for Pakistan trade products. He also proposed to create Enterprise Fund of 300 million dollar so that the American private entrepreneurs could come to Pakistan and deepen the bilateral trade partnership.
The finance minister gave a comprehensive overview of the distribution of resources between the Federation and the federating units and in this regard he enlightened the American legislators about the recent National Finance Commission Award whereby 57 per cent of the funds from the divisible pool had been transferred to the provinces.
Meanwhile, talking to the US congressional delegation, the Prime Minister said that for achieving durable peace in the region, US should not discriminate among the South Asian countries and Pakistan should be treated at par with its neighbours, particularly in the field of the nuclear energy cooperation.
He said that being a partner of the US in pursuing the regional stability, Pakistan rightfully expected that the US would not discriminate among the South Asian countries and Pakistan would be treated at par with its neighbour particularly in the field of nuclear energy cooperation.
Besides, the US should stop the predator attacks and share the drone technology and intelligence with Pakistan, thus enabling Pakistans security forces to take action against the terrorists themselves. He vilified the drone attacks as counterproductive as they only served to strengthen the hands and unite the terrorists rather than reducing that threat.
The Prime Minister also called for the enhanced cooperation and joint strategy among Pakistan, Afghanistan and US in war against terror and for restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan. He reaffirmed the Pakistans strong commitment to fight out forces of terrorism and stressed that military gains in that war could not be consolidated unless the people of the cleared areas see socio-economic development and higher job opportunities on the ground.
The US Congressional delegation recognised and applauded the sacrifices of Pakistani people and armed forces in the war against terrorism and extremism. The members of congressional delegation held the view that Pakistan-US partnership was critical at this juncture through enhanced civilian and military cooperation for defeating the menace of terror. They congratulated the Government of Pakistan for remarkably and successfully coping with onerous flood relief work and lauded the people of Pakistan for their resilience in overcoming the unparallel devastation caused by the unprecedented floods in the country last year. They assured the Prime Minister that the US Congress despite its agenda of budgetary cut would standby Pakistan and remain stead fast in its support to help it overcome its economic difficulties. They also promised to clear the backlog of assistance for Pakistans development projects through the USAID.
Representatives Darrell E Issa, Todd R Platts, Jason Chaffetz, Stephen F Lynch, Brain M Higgins, Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Defence Ch Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Secretaries Foreign Affairs, Defence and Interior, and senior officials were present in the meeting.