SPIEGEL Interview with Pakistan's Prime Minister: 'American Drone Attacks Are Counterproductive'

In a SPIEGEL interview, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani talks about the fight against terrorism in his country, the future of Afghanistan and why US drone attacks do more harm than good.

Photo Gallery: Pakistan's War on Terror Photos
AFP/ ISPR

SPIEGEL: Mr. Prime Minister, Pakistan is being shaken by more and more terror attacks. In the past few weeks, the number of assaults has increased noticeably. Moreover, your government is at war with militants in Waziristan. Do you still enjoy being prime minister?

Yousuf Raza Gilani: I have taken a special responsibility in a unique situation of my country. Pakistan is a frontline state in a conflict which will decide the peace, progress and prosperity not only of Pakistan or South Asia, but of the whole world. So you can imagine what my job is about. I personally feel that it is our duty to perform successfully. As far as our military activities in South Waziristan are concerned, I followed the policy of dialogue and development first. But when the country was challenged by the militants, there was no other option left than military action.

SPIEGEL: Many people in Pakistan consider this approach a war against the country's own people.

Gilani: The people we are fighting are militants. They are not from Pakistan, they are Uzbeks, they are from Chechnya, they are Arabs and Afghans. And they cooperate with foreign agents to disturb the peace in Pakistan.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying that there are no Pakistani Taliban?

Gilani: Of course there are Pakistani militants, but the insurgencies are driven by foreign elements.

SPIEGEL: Let me guess: You believe that the Indian intelligence service is behind it.

Gilani: In fact, to some extent there is a lot of interference in Afghanistan. This is not only our opinion, but also the belief in the United States.

SPIEGEL: But there has not been any proof of Indian involvement.

Gilani: I am not saying that there is. But the insurgency in Afghanistan has been analyzed by many experts, including from American think tanks, and they have mentioned this.

SPIEGEL: You are talking about Afghanistan, but it is Pakistan that has been repeatedly described as the "most dangerous place in the world." Don't you think it is too easy to say that only foreign elements are responsible?

Gilani: The world is always only focusing on terrorism when it comes to Pakistan. This has, of course, harmed the reputation of our country. We must not forget that there are so many other areas and avenues which are very conducive for Pakistan. Despite all the things that are going on here, there are so many places not affected by terrorism. We are giving a lot of security to the employees here, also to those who have come from other countries. There are many engineers, for example. But, unfortunately, we see many lost opportunities for investment because of this focus on terrorism -- and that harms not only Pakistan, but also the foreign investors. Can't one see that there is a lot of development in Pakistan going on?

SPIEGEL: Are you disappointed about the world's opinion of Pakistan?

Gilani: Pakistan should not be portrayed only as a country at war. When there was a Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, there were many allies fighting the invaders in this war. We were part of this alliance. After this war, the world forgot about this region, and that vacuum was filled by the militants. We are facing those problems even today. They have been thrust upon us.

SPIEGEL: Since you are already letting the US carry out its drone attacks against militants on Pakistani territory along the border with Afghanistan, why don't you let them help you with soldiers on Pakistani territory?

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About Yousuf Raza Gilani
AFP
Yousuf Raza Gilani, 57, took office as prime minister of Pakistan in March 2008, half a year after President Pervez Musharraf stepped down. Gilani belongs to the late Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and also served under Bhutto as a minister during different governments.


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