Britain says foreign incursions in Pak will be counter-productive

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Islamabad, Sep 17 (UNI) British Law and Justice Secretary Jack Straw said foreign incursions into Pakistani territory will be counter-productive.

Straw, who is currently visiting Pakistan said this during a meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last evening.

His remarks came against the backdrop of severe criticism by Pakistan's top civil and military leaders against a series of missile strikes and a cross-border raid by US troops in Pakistani tribal regions.

Straw said Pakistan had faced a lot of problems and rendered a lot of sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. He expressed the hope that Pakistan would continue providing passage to NATO supply convoys through its territory on their way to Afghanistan.

Mr Gilani called for an immediate end to violation of Pakistan's territory by the US and NATO International Security Assistance Forces and vowed that the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be protected at all costs. He said Pakistani armed forces were capable of handling any eventuality.

Reiterating his government's resolve to combat terrorism, Mr Gilani said that a lot of Pakistani troops and civilians had sacrificed their lives in the war against terrorism, adding that rooting out extremism was the government's first priority.

The prime minister urged the international community to remove the root causes of terrorism - socio-economic disparity and unresolved political disputes.

Reiterating his government's multi-pronged strategy, he criticised the previous government's policies.

The prime minister expressed Pakistan's desire to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours and said that a stable and prosperous Afghanistan was in the country's interest.

The prime minister briefed Mr Straw on the issue of reinstatement of the deposed judges and vowed to work towards an independent judiciary.

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Mr Straw acknowledged Pakistan's contributions in efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan and peace in the region. He also praised Pakistan's support for Afghan refugees, a foreign ministry statement said here today.

The two sides reviewed bilateral relations, discussed the situation in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism strategy. They also exchanged views on the status of Pakistan's composite dialogue with India and relations with other countries.

The foreign minister praised British government's support for the democratic process in Pakistan and the doubling of development assistance to 480 million pound sterling in the social sector.

Mr Qureshi told Mr Straw that violation of Pakistan's territory was extremely unhelpful in its efforts of tackling militancy.

UNI XC NC DS1356

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