Pakistan asks EU for assistance in fight against Taliban

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani asked the European Union(EU) on Monday for immediate weapons and training for security forces to help the insurgency-wracked nation drive out the Taliban.

Gilani made the demand during talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who had earlier pledged full support for Pakistan as it deals with the resettlement of 1,9-million people displaced in fighting with Taliban rebels.

The premier urged the EU to provide “immediate assistance” for law enforcement capacity building and the “supply of much needed sophisticated weapon systems” to eliminate terrorism, a statement issued by Gilani’s office said.

Gilani also asked the EU member states to “deliver on their pledges” made in a Friends of Pakistan meeting in Tokyo earlier this year, where nations promised cash support amounting to $5,28-billion.

Solana visited a refugee camp in North West Pakistan and praised the country’s efforts in managing the return of its displaced people, the vast majority of whom have been made homeless by fighting since late April.

“I was very, very impressed by the manner in which this complicated operation has been handled,” Solana said, describing it as “work well done”.

“I have seen already today families returning and I think that it is very, very important good news. The EU has contributed more than €150-million and will continue to support Pakistan as it deals with one of its largest mass-migrations in history,” he added.

“We will continue to be engaged in this battle which is very, very important not only for your country but for everyone.”

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the EU to allow greater market access to countries afflicted by terror, saying the Pakistan’s economy had suffered losses of $35-billion since joining the US-led “war on terror” in late 2001.

“What we are demanding is market access on more favourable terms,” Qureshi said, adding that Pakistan-EU trade stood at $10-billion.

At a summit attended by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari last month, senior EU officials promised to study future ways to boost commerce with the regime in Pakistan, with the ultimate aim of opening a free trade area.

Solana said he would visit Afghanistan on Tuesday after holding talks with Zardari and Gilani.


Client Media Releases

Utility outages: looking at the big picture
UKZN scientists get L'Or'eal-UNESCO Women in Science grants
Springbok-mania hits MTN head office
Optimise your SMS campaigns this Black Friday