‘No talk of Iraq troops in Bush-Musharraf meeting’
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Friday no reference was made during a meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and his United States counterpart, George W Bush, on sending troops to Iraq by Pakistan.
Talking to APP on the phone from Canada, the minister said the meeting between both presidents held on September 24 was “productive and cordial” where regional and global issues were discussed.
“There was no reference to sending troops to Iraq by Pakistan made during the meeting,” he said while giving details of the meeting. However, he said the president took up the issue during meetings with other world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
He made it clear any decision on sending troops to Iraq would be taken in conformity with the UN resolution and the OIC’s decision while keeping in view Pakistani people’s aspirations.
He said Pakistan would continue its cooperation in the war on terror and also seek cooperation in the fields of defence, economy, trade, science and technology and other development sectors.
President Musharraf also highlighted the Indian purchase of defence hardware, causing imbalance of power in the region during the meeting with President Bush, he added. He quoted President Musharraf as saying Pakistan never wanted to join the arms race in the region, however, it would maintain minimum deterrence. “We have the right to defend our motherland and every possible effort is in the making to ensure it,” Mr Ahmed said. “The president has made it clear the issue of Kashmir is the main cause of unrest in the region and lasting peace could only be achieved by resolving the issue peacefully.”
About religious seminaries, he said: “They are serving the cause of poor people as the biggest non-government organisation of the world and these have nothing to do with terrorism.”
He also brushed aside an allegation that Pakistan had been patronising or sponsoring the Al Qaeda or the Taliban, saying Pakistan had always been with the world against such activities. He said the anti-Pakistan statement of Al Qaeda leader Aimnal Zawahri was itself a testimony to the fact that Pakistan was in no way involved in terrorism. —APP