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Saturday, April 19, 2014  

Gilani rules out ‘business as usual’ with US
ISLAMABAD Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ruled out “business as usual” with the United States late on Monday after a Nato attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and the army threatened to curtail cooperation over the war in Afghanistan.  

“Business as usual will not be there,” Gilani told CNN when asked if ties with the US would continue. “We have to have something bigger so as to satisfy my nation.”  

While the Nato strike has shifted attention from what critics say is Islamabad’s failure to go after militants, Gilani’s comments reflect the fury of Pakistan’s government and military - and the pressure they face from their own people.  

“You cannot win any war without the support of the masses,” Gilani said. “We need the people with us.”  

The relationship would continue only if based on mutual respect and mutual interest, he said. Asked if Pakistan was receiving that respect, Gilani replied: “At the moment, not.”  

Gilani’s comments cap a day of growing pressure from the Pakistani military, which threatened to reduce cooperation on peace efforts in Afghanistan.  

The US military named an Air Force general to lead an investigation into allied air strikes and the they were given time till December 23 to probe the attack. The chief of US Central Command appointed Brigadier General Stephen Clark, from Air Force Special Operations Command in Florida, officials said. The team,is yet to arrive in Afghanistan but an initial military assessment team went to the border at the weekend.

The Afghan and Pakistani governments are also being invited to take part. There was no immediate reaction from Islamabad or Kabul, although some analysts voiced surprise that it will take as long as nearly four weeks.

Pakistan on Tuesday decided to boycott a key international conference on Afghanistan next month, The Pakistani cabinet took the decision at a meeting in Lahore, just days after Islamabad confirmed it was mulling its attendance in the German city of Bonn, where Pakistan was considered a key player.

“The cabinet has decided not to attend the Bonn meeting,” a government official said.Tuesday’s talks also decided to call a joint session of parliament to discuss the fallout.

The cabinet branded “unilateral action” such as Saturday’s air strike and the May 2 US killing of Osama Bin Laden, “unacceptable”, the prime minister’s office said.

Gilani said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had urged him in a telephone call to reconsider the boycott of the Bonn conference.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Pakistan was rethinking whether to attend next week’s conference on Afghanistan in Bonn.

 “It is a way to build pressure to make the US understand that Pakistan takes this very seriously,” analyst Hasan Askari said.

Adding a new element to tensions and giving a diplomatic boost to Islamabad, China said it was “deeply shocked” by the incident and expressed “strong concern for the victims and profound condolences for Pakistan.” Russia said it was “unacceptable” to violate the sovereignty of states.

Reuters
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