Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday asked the US to review new rules introduced by it to screen air travellers from Pakistan, warning that the “discriminatory” measures could “negatively impact bilateral ties“.
Mr. Gilani expressed concern over the issue during a meeting with a visiting US Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain.
Pakistan is among 14 countries whose nationals are subject to tougher screening rules introduced by the US after a Nigerian man tried to set off a bomb on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last month.
The premier “expressed his serious reservations on the new security measures introduced by the US government for screening Pakistani nationals...and termed them as discriminatory,” said a statement issued by Mr. Gilani’s office.
Noting that such policies cause “consternation and anxiety among the people of Pakistan”, he said “their continuity can negatively impact bilateral ties“.
Mr. Gilani urged the US administration to “revisit this policy and asked for the immediate removal of Pakistan from the list of the countries affected by it“.
He also took up several issues that have strained relations between Pakistan and the US, including continuing attacks by American drones in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan and delays in reimbursing Islamabad’s expenses on the war against terror.
Mr. Gilani expressed his government’s “disappointment” over the drone attacks and the “persisting reluctance of the US to share drone technology with Pakistan to enable it to take on terror centres in its border areas by itself“.
He also voiced concern over the delay in reimbursing over two billion dollars from the Coalition Support Fund for expenses on the war against terror.
This “inordinate delay” in payments by the US is affecting the campaign against terrorism, he said.
The disbursement of funds “must not be linked to any other issue and overdue payments must be made on fast-track basis,” he said.
Mr. Gilani said the economic cost of Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism over the past eight years amounted to around 35 billion dollars and the US should help his government to revive the country’s economy.
He sought greater access for Pakistani products in US markets and more investments in the energy, infrastructure, agriculture and water sectors.
Senator Joseph Lieberman, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee of the US Senate and a member of the visiting delegation, agreed with Mr. Gilani on the “negative fallout of the new security measures” for screening citizens of Pakistan and other countries.
Mr. Lieberman said he was “sceptical about the usefulness of these measures” and that he will take up this issue in the US.
Mr. McCain clarified that his statement in Kabul on Thursday about the continuation of US drones attacks had been “misquoted by the press” and that he wanted Pakistan and the US to “discuss and resolve this irritant at the earliest”.