Mullens remarks tantamount to interference in Pak affairs: PM

Islamabad: Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen`s remarks that Pakistan government sanctioned the killing of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad are tantamount to interference in the country`s internal affairs.

"This statement is tantamount to interference in our sovereignty. Pakistan will not allow anyone to interfere in its national affairs," Gilani said, referring to recent comments of Mullen, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman.

However, Gilani, during an interview with a TV news channel, said if the US had any proof regarding involvement of Pakistan government or establishment in Shahzad`s murder, it should be presented to the independent commission headed by a Supreme Court judge that is probing the incident.

Shahzad was abducted while driving from his house to a TV station in Islamabad on May 29, two days after he alleged in an article that al-Qaeda had infiltrated Pakistan`s Navy.

His body, bearing marks of torture, was found the next day in a canal in Punjab province.

Journalists` associations and rights groups alleged intelligence agencies were responsible for the killing, a charge denied by the ISI.

Shahzad had also told colleagues about receiving veiled threats from the ISI.

Mullen`s comments were the first public remarks by a senior American official linking Pakistan government to the killing.

Asked about new US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta`s comments that al-Qaeda chief Aiman al-Zawahiri was hiding in Pakistan`s tribal areas, Gilani said the US had agreed that it would not carry out any unilateral action in Pakistan in future.

"If the US has its own national interest as supreme, we too have (the same). We had intelligence and defence cooperation with the US and despite that, the May 2 Abbottabad incident (the covert US raid that killed Osama bin Laden) took place. We did not like it, we protested it and we condemned it," he said.

The US and Pakistan achieved all their targets against terrorists with intelligence-sharing, he said.

The US raid against bin Laden marked the "intelligence failure of the entire world as they could not trace" the al- Qaeda leader, Gilani contended.

In response to another question, he said there should be a core group comprising the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan to decide the future of Afghanistan.

"Pakistan should be included in talks (about the) future of Afghanistan," he said.

"We want a peaceful, prosperous, independent and sovereign Afghanistan as it is in the interest of Pakistan," he said.

After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the US "left us alone and the vacuum was filled by the militants", he added.

Asked about Indo-Pak ties, Gilani noted that Pakistan and India have agreed to resume their dialogue process to resolve all outstanding issues, including the "core issue" of Jammu and Kashmir.

Recalling his meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt and Thimphu in Bhutan, he said the two sides had agreed during these meetings to resume their dialogue for resolution of all issues, including Kashmir.

Gilani claimed Prime Minister Singh had acknowledged that India had committed a mistake by delaying talks with Pakistan.

The dialogue process between India and Pakistan had already started at the levels of the Foreign, Commerce and Interior Secretaries and now the Foreign Ministers of the two countries would hold talks, he said.