WASHINGTON -- Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has assured the United States that his country is committed to driving militants from Pakistan, including those who strike over its border into Afghanistan.
Meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in the White House on July 28, Gilani reminded Americans that it is in Pakistan's interest to defeat Muslim extremists. After all, he said, the leader of his own Pakistan People's Party was killed eight months ago in an attack attributed to them.
"This is our own war. This is the war which is against Pakistan, and we will fight for our own path. And that is because I've lost my own leader, Benazir Bhutto, because of the militants," Gilani said.
Bhutto was slain in a terror attack in December 2007.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Bush and Gilani declared that their two countries are steadfast allies in the war against Islamic militants.
But Bush indicated that he believes the Pakistani government had more work to do.
"We talked about the need for us to make sure that the Afghan border is secure, as best as possible. Pakistan has made a very strong commitment to that. I told the prime minister that the United States is committed to helping the Afghan democracy succeed, which is in Pakistan's interest. After all, the prime minister wants there to be a peaceful country on his border," Bush said.
The government of Pakistan says it is trying end the cross-border attacks by reaching agreements with the tribes in its border region that would outlaw the possession of weapons and support for the militants.
The region also is widely suspected of being a safe haven for Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al-Qaeda, and his senior lieutenants.
The meeting came only hours after missiles struck a religious school in Pakistan near the Afghan border, killing six people. The source of the missile strike wasn't immediately known, but it follows U.S. strikes in the mostly lawless region that targeted militants responsible for attacks in Afghanistan.
These attacks have angered Pakistanis and their government, which took office four months ago. Gilani has managed to politically marginalize President Pervez Musharraf, who has been a staunch ally of the United States in the war on terror.
Today, Bush sought to assure Gilani about the U.S. strikes in Pakistan, saying he respects that country's sovereignty. Gilani accepted Bush's assurances, saying, "I appreciate what he has said about supporting democracy, supporting sovereignty, looking after the interests and a lot of other areas where there is cooperation between us."