Gilani: Obama using drone strikes for political gains

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Pakistani Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, said on Sunday that U.S. president Barack Obama is using drone strikes in Pakistan tribal regions for political motives.

Gilani's statement came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly ordered a "sharp increase" in drone strikes in Pakistan 's tribal areas in recent months.

"The United States is into the election year and (President) Obama's decision has been aimed at gaining political mileage," Pakistani Prime Minister said when a reporter asked him at his press conference in the eastern city of Lahore.

The U.S. officials were quoted as saying that Obama's decision to increase drone attacks reflected the "mounting U.S. frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes".

On Thursday, the U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta stated in Kabul that the United States was running out of patience with Pakistan. He alleged that the country was being used as a safe haven by insurgents from neighbouring Afghanistan. A day earlier he had stated in New Delhi that the United States will continue drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions.

Pakistan, on Saturday, rejected Panetta's statements and said that he was "oversimplifying some of the very complex issues we are dealing with in our efforts against extremism and terrorism".

On reopening of NATO supply line, Prime Minister Gilani said all stake-holders will be taken on board and national interests will be safeguarded if the NATO supplies are restored.

He said that dialogue is going on with the United States on the NATO supply line issue in light of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, which had sought apology from the United States over the killing of 24 soldiers in November last year in an airstrike.

With reference to shedding U.S. assistance and becoming self- reliant, Gilani said economic self-reliance is very essential as a nation, adding that economy is not the issue of Pakistan alone amid global recession but Asia is performing better than the rest of the world.

He said Pakistan has cordial political and trade relations with neighbouring countries including Iran, China, Afghanistan, Russia, Central Asian Republics and India which would boost country's economy. He said many energy projects with Iran, India and China are in the pipeline.

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